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SF Mayor Issues Solar Challenge
to 1,500 Biggest Firms

by Staff, October 1, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- The 1,500 largest firms in San Francisco can each get a free solar assessment and an energy audit, if they enlist in Mayor Gavin Newsom's drive to install enough solar power arrays to generate 5 megawatts of electricity - double the city's current capacity for sun power.

Newsom and his office said he will invite the largest businesses in town to join his new Solar Founders' Circle in the coming weeks.

The free assessments and audits for companies will help businesses identify potential energy efficiencies and savings, the mayor and his office said in announcing the plan. The assessments and audits will also help firms determine their solar power potential and the likely costs, incentives, offsets, savings and energy generated from installing a solar power system on their property.

The program is to be funded in part by a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Cities initiative and the San Francisco Department of Environment's SF Energy Watch Program.

San Francisco's current capacity of 5 megawatts comes from solar power installations on commercial, municipal and residential buildings.

The 1,500 largest firms have an estimated solar potential of some 170 megawatts - enough energy for 42,000 households, according to a statement from the mayor's office. Given those numbers, doubling the current capacity and bringing the load to 10 megawatts by next September is a doable goal, members of Newsom's staff said.

Federal tax incentives that enable businesses to obtain a 30 percent tax credit for installing qualifying solar energy equipment are scheduled to expire December 31 this year (bluefish notes: extension of eight years for solar projects was passed in Congress' bank rescue bill.).

Despite San Francisco's budget challenges, Newsom has been trying to stimulate more interest in his city's ambitious solar initiatives and solar subsidy programs.

Just last week, Newsom announced that his city has agreed to partner with the Clinton Global Initiative to create a sustainable resource district for the buildings and public spaces in San Francisco's Civic Center.

The goals for the area include slashing use of potable water by 80 percent, cutting wastewater discharge by 45 percent, reducing energy use by 33 percent and using renewable energy to meet 35 percent of the area's peak power demand. In addition, the plan seeks to reduce the carbon footprint for the area by 2,225 tons annually, the estimated equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from 1,286 San Francisco households, according to the mayor's office. The three-year commitment to the Clinton Climate Initiative partnership is scheduled launch on October 20. The first phase of the Civic Center efficiency projects are expected to begin in late 2009.

SF Mayor Issues Solar Challenge to 1,500 Biggest Firms, October 1, 2008

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