New Municipal Solar Projects

(May 14, 2008)

Projects Will More than Triple Total Municipal Solar Power Generation in S.F.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--Mayor Gavin Newsom today praised the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's (SFPUC) decision to authorize new projects that will create at least five megawatts of new solar energy generation at City-owned facilities. When completed, the new projects atop the newly seismically-retrofitted Sunset Reservoir and the Pier 96/Norcal Recycling Center will increase municipal solar energy generation in San Francisco by more than 300% from two megawatts to seven megawatts.

"These new solar power systems at the Sunset Reservoir and Pier 96 will more than triple the energy we generate from the sun atop City facilities," said Mayor Newsom. "The innovative approach to developing these projects is another example of our efforts to dramatically accelerate and expand solar power and other renewable energy sources for San Francisco. With these projects, we'll have larger-scale solar energy projects at City facilities and the resources to provide funds for residential and commercial solar energy systems through our proposed Solar Energy Incentive Program."

The photovoltaic systems at the two facilities and the solar energy they generate will be developed and operated under a "Power Purchase Agreement" between the SFPUC and Recurrent Energy. Under the agreement, which the SFPUC members authorized SFPUC staff to negotiate today, Recurrent will finance, design, build and operate the solar energy projects and provide all the energy generated to the SFPUC for a period of 25 years. The five megawatts generated between the two facilities will be used to help power other San Francisco public services and buildings, including streetlights, San Francisco General Hospital, Muni light rail and city schools.

Previously, city-owned solar projects like those at the Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco International Airport, the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant and others were developed through a more traditional approach with the City contracting directly to build, operate and own the photovoltaic systems. The "Power Purchase Agreement" approach will allow the SFPUC to more rapidly develop large-scale solar projects, take advantage of federal tax credits not directly available to the SFPUC and generate solar energy at a better rate.

The projects should be installed and generating solar power by mid-2009.