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Local Green Jobs Rise as SF Solar and Energy Efficiency Incentive Programs Expand

Editors Note: This is a guest post by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. His last post covered wave energy generation of the coast of California. Watch a live press conference for this event at 10 AM today.

Every day more San Francisco residents and businesses are signing up for two San Francisco programs that will cut monthly utility bills and help the City meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. One is SF Energy Watch, which provides technical assistance and financial incentives that pays over half the cost of energy efficiency upgrades to commercial and multifamily properties. The other is GoSolarSF, which, when combined with federal tax credits and state incentives, can reduce the cost of installing a residential solar power system by more than 50 percent.

In the past 2 years, 1,500 businesses and multifamily properties have saved over $5.7 million in energy bills through SF Energy Watch. The program has also delivered 6 megawatts (MW) of energy efficiency savings, which in turn reduces the amount of energy generation we need from polluting power plants.  

San Francisco currently has nearly 8 MW of in-City solar power, including the massive installation at Moscone Center. But the real San Francisco solar gold rush came when we rolled out GoSolarSF in July 2008. In the first seven months, 640 residents and enterprises had taken advantage of the program’s considerable incentives, applying to install nearly 2 MW of clean, renewable energy — 25 percent of the City’s overall solar portfolio.

All of this activity has been a big boost for companies that provide energy efficiency and solar services in the Bay Area. Because of the way San Francisco has structured these programs; local companies that hire locally benefit the most. SF Energy Watch has helped to sustain and/or expand companies—both service providers and suppliers—and currently supports 150 new and ongoing jobs in this emerging green field.

GoSolarSF has specific bonus incentives for employers who hire new staff through the City’s workforce development program. We have placed dozens of new employees in the local solar industry, and of the 640 projects under GoSolarSF, 83 percent are employing workforce development trainees.

On Tuesday of this week I introduced a resolution that will expand the SF Energy Watch program by nearly $4 million. The money for SF Energy Watch comes from California’s Public Goods Charge, a fund for renewable energy and energy efficiency that you pay into with a percentage of every utility bill.


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was the youngest San Francisco mayor in over a century when he was elected at the age of 41. Newsom, the son of William and Tessa Newsom, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attended Santa Clara University on a partial baseball scholarship, graduating in 1989 with a B.A. in political science. After only 36 days as mayor, Newsom gained worldwide attention when he granted marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This bold move set the tone for Newsom’s first term. Under his energetic leadership, the economy grew and jobs were created. The city became a center for biotech and clean tech. He initiated a plan to bring universal health care to all of the city’s uninsured residents. And Newsom aggressively pursued local solutions to global climate change. In 2007, Newsom was re-elected with over 73% of the vote. Since then he has built upon the successes of his first term, launching new environmental initiatives and a comprehensive strategy to transform one of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods into a life sciences, digital media, and clean tech center.

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