SF Supes Approve Solar Panels For Sunset ReservoirCBS 5 News
May 05, 2009
San Francisco supervisors Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a contract with a private solar company for an ambitious 5-megawatt solar installation in the city’s Sunset district.
The project would put 25,000 solar panels on the 480,000-square-foot roof of the Sunset Reservoir, the city’s largest reservoir, at 24th Avenue and Ortega Street, more than tripling the city’s current 2-megawatt solar generation capacity.
The contract calls for the city to sign a 25-year power purchase agreement and site lease agreement with San Francisco-based Recurrent Energy for the company to build and operate the project. After either seven or 15 years, the city has the option to buy the installation from Recurrent.
Some supervisors, though expressing support for renewable energy projects in San Francisco, have contested this contract, claiming it might be a poor financial deal for the city.
However, the full board Tuesday passed an ordinance—co-sponsored by Mayor Gavin Newsom and supervisors Carmen Chu, Bevan Dufty, Michela Alioto-Pier and Eric Mar—approving the deal by a 7 to 4 vote. A second and final vote is scheduled for next Tuesday.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi argued the price of solar could "shift substantially" lower in the coming years, and the current terms of the buy-in would place the city in a poorer financial position.
Supervisors Chris Daly, John Avalos and David Campos also voted against the ordinance Tuesday.
"I hope five, 10, 15 years from now, we don’t look back at this deal and say, ’What was the Board of Supervisors thinking?’" said Campos.
According to San Francisco Public Utilities Commission officials, a 30-percent federal tax credit is only available to large solar installations constructed by private companies, which the current agreement takes advantage of, and not to a city-built installation.
Power from the installation will be fed into the city’s electrical grid for city facilities such as San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco Municipal Railways light-rail system and city schools.
Despite the Sunset district’s often foggy weather, Recurrent said the area receives only 15 percent less sun than the sunniest parts of the city, and the reservoir rooftop was chosen because of its large size.
In addition, Recurrent said it plans to hire about 70 local electricians, laborers and operators for the installation.
See this story on CBS 5