San Francisco Solar Energy Incentive Program Gets Approval – Finally!

Last Tuesday, San Francisco supervisors gave final approval for a 10 year, $3.0 million (per year) fund to provide specific incentives for residents and businesses to install solar electric power systems.  The program is designed to stimulate growth in the City’s supply of renewable energy.

We believe this is great news for City residents.  Getting the best out of a solar system requires homeowners to adjust and reduce their electric energy consumption.  At a time of rising fossil fuel costs, what better way to raise awareness and move towards a more distributed, environmentally sound energy policy than support an initiative where consumers and businesses can play a direct role.

Under the Solar Energy Incentive Program, which was sponsored by Supervisor Bevan Duffy, residents could receive a one-time incentive payment between $3,000 and $6,000 for the cost of design, purchase and installation of solar photovoltaic systems that produce a minimum of 1 kilowatt or electricity.  For a 2.5 kilowatt system costing approximately $22,000, this represents a significant percentage saving which will be in addition to Federal and State solar incentives.  Residents looking for the full $6,000 rebate will need to live in an Environmental Justice District (such as Potrero Hill) and will need to have the system installed by an individual trained under the City workforce development program.  In addition the residential program, businesses could receive up to $1,500 per kilowatt installed up to a maximum of $10,000.

Allocation is on a first come, first served basis, regardless of the type of applicant and the program will be administered by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.  Eligibility for the program will be largely consistent with the California Solar Initiative guidelines and payments can be received by individuals or made directly to installers or contractors.

In light of these developments, residents are likely to be inundated with proposals by locally based installers and new start-ups.  We suggest doing your homework; attend a free workshop, speak with at least 2 qualified installers and shop around for an installation and financing package that works for you.