Lights out for solar power


San Francisco’s well-known green technology and incentives may have to take a backseat to Mayor Ed Lee’s new budget proposal.

The GoSolarSF program started in 2008 is currently set to receive only $2 million in funding.

The program has spent $18 million throughout its time, brought new jobs and boosted San Francisco’s clean energy street cred.

Nine companies in alignment with the solar technology sent a letter Monday to Lee citing that the decrease could damage SF’s rep and hurt those wishing to utilize solar energy.

The letter, signed by groups including Sunrun, First Solar and One Block Off the Grid, said:

“We are concerned that proposed cuts from GoSolarSF’s historic $5 million funding level … will severely undermine this progress and negatively impact San Francisco’s clean technology leadership and economic development. We understand that this year, for the first time since the program began, the City had to turn away homeowners and businesses seeking to go solar. This year’s even more dramatic cut means funding will run out even sooner.”

GoSolarSF has led to 1,826 solar installations—that’s 5.75 megawatts of energy—and created 86 new jobs, according the the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The companies that wrote the letter asked Lee to restore funding the program to $5 million, having made business decisions based on the incentives .

SF Public Utilities Commission spokesman Charles Sheehan said the cuts are necessary and a means of prioritizing to pay for other projects:

“These budget cuts are necessary to pay for capital improvement repairs at our hydroelectric powerhouses and throughout our transmission system. If we don’t prioritize funding for the maintenance of our power infrastructure, we won’t be able to generate and transmit energy.”

The mayor’s budget is still under review by the Board of Supervisors.

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