Trading Safety for Solar : Mayor Newsoms Proposal to Green San Francisco

The mayor has a proposal to make San Francisco the solar capital of America. There are some dark spots to this idea.

On Dec 11 of '07 the Mayors office issued a press release initiated a yet to be voter approved program to create the largest urban solar incentive program of any city in the US.

The program would offer companies and resident’s government-funded loans and rebates to offset the costs of installing solar panels, city officials said

The Mayors press release goes on to say: San Francisco's proposal must be approved by voters and legislators. Businesses would be eligible for rebates of up to $10,000. Residents would receive $3,000 to $5,000 off the cost of installing solar panels depending on whether they use a local contractor and are working on property in a neighborhood near a power plant.

The city would underwrite the cost of the loans, which commercial and residential owners would be expected to pay back through annual tax assessments on their properties. Basically, the loans would be amortized over a ten year period and then be paid back to the city.

The city is looking to half the cost of solar, offer the owner a low rate loan and be the greenest city in the land.

The only sticking point is that the program will be created via a voter-approved ballot measure to re-purpose $50 million in general obligation bonds originally designed for the “Seismic Safety Loan Program” to a solar and other renewable energy loan program. Im certainly not opposed to solar, but Im not sure i would trade off seismic safety for it. Supervisor Aaron Peskin says using seismic safety bonds for the solar program "robs Peter to pay Paul."

Something to think about…..A progressive green city and new green jobs and the creation of a big market for solar panels that may create the market efficiencies the Mayor is looking for, but at the expense of life and death issues?

Thanks for Reading

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