GoSolarSF Funding Doubles As Mayor Lee Delivers On Commitment To Restore Cuts
Like a quarterback leading a team of environmental and green jobs advocates down a field of renewable energy goals, Mayor Ed Lee has put San Francisco’s successful GoSolarSF program within inches of the goal line by announcing yesterday that he has doubled funding for the incentive effective July 1.
And unlike last month’s heartbreaking Super Bowl conclusion, this story promises a celebratory finish as Mayor Lee has found a new ally in his pursuit to restore full funding for GoSolarSF: San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General Manager Harlan Kelly.
This morning’s San Francisco Examiner reports Mayor Lee’s announcement that GoSolarSF, which nearly quadrupled the number of solar panels in San Francisco before the program was slashed 60% last year, will increase from $2 million to $4 million for the fiscal year 2013-2014. The announcement leaves only a $1 million shortfall from its historical $5 million of full funding.
“We have some setbacks in the environmental movement sometimes, with the economy going down as it has,” Lee said. “But when we recover, we really have to recommit to these programs and make sure we’re on the right path. GoSolarSF has shown a proven track-record of success."
Mayor Lee also noted that "today, our City is a leader in clean energy because we’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in part, by generating more and more of our energy locally from rooftop-installed solar arrays.”
The news represents Mayor Lee's commitment to push for full funding of GoSolarSF after the program dried up for San Francisco homeowners, tenants, businesses and nonprofits requesting the ratepayer rebate this year. This week, over fifteen environmental, job training, and clean technology organizations and companies sent a letter of thanks to Mayor Lee for his pledge to fully restore the program, which has served over 2,000 customers to date. GoSolarSF has been particularly successful in supporting low-income residents, dispelling the myth that clean energy is a luxury that eludes those with modest means.
SFPUC General Manager Harlan Kelly, who took over an agency that has struggled to fund the highly successful program in the past, presented a sea change in leadership yesterday, stating that "rooftop solar is one of the easiest ways that San Franciscans can do their part to combat global climate change and reduce their monthly electricity bill. Our incentive for low-income residential customers is one of our most popular incentives, which is proof that GoSolarSF is for all San Franciscans."
Kelly, the former City Engineer that now helms one of the City's largest departments, also provided key insight into the landmark 2010 local hiring ordinance authored by Supervisor John Avalos and successfully implemented by Mayor Lee.
The news was greeted with great enthusiasm by community and environmental activists, as well as members of the Board of Supervisors such as Supervisor Scott Wiener, who noted that not utilizing available space for solar arrays is "a huge lost opportunity."
Longtime GoSolarSF supporter and community leader Dr. Espanola Jackson stated, "This news is music to my ears, the Mayor is doing exactly what he said he would do for our communities back on Lunar Day." The Mayor expressed his commitment to move the program back to full funding at the February 21 swearing-in of California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild.
"Today is a fantastic day for San Francisco," said Angelo King, director of the Neighborhood Jobs Initiative. "GoSolarSF compliments ongoing investments in our communities with multiple benefits: homeowners get access to affordable clean energy and we ensure that our green training dollars do not go wasted."
"It's great to see the Mayor coming so far in restoring GoSolarSF funding," said Sierra Club political director John Rizzo. "We are almost back to where we were before the cuts."
"We are really excited about this announcement, which shows how the Mayor is pushing forward job creation in a growing sector of the economy on behalf of all San Franciscans, including those disproportionately hurt by the financial downturn," said Jeanine Cotter, CEO of locally-based solar company Luminalt. "GoSolarSF leverages City resources to include everyone in the growing green economy."
"Funding GoSolarSF with an additional $2 million will save homeowners money on their energy bills, create good local jobs, and help us make San Francisco the sustainable city it is striving to be," said Nicholas Josefowitz, founder of Impact Reactor LLC, an investment company with a focus on the clean economy. "The Mayor should be congratulated and we look forward to working with him to fully fund the program and expand the number of San Franciscans it can serve."
"The Mayor has stepped up big-time to save GoSolarSF and this could not have come at a better time, with the program running on fumes after last year's cuts," said Brightline executive director Joshua Arce, who has helped support GoSolarSF through record funding shortfalls. "General Manager Kelly's leadership is exciting and his vision for GoSolarSF motivates all of us."