San Francisco and California See Results With Solar Incentive Programs

Last year the City and County of San Francisco launched a local solar energy incentive program, the first of its kind in the country. The program is called GoSolarSF, and provides up to $4,000 for residences and up to $10,000 for businesses. There are bigger incentives for low-income residents. Any resident is eligible that is on a meter and pays an electricity bill.

Since launching the program July 2008, San Francisco has seen a 450 percent increase in applications for solar installations; from 200 to 850. A report issued earlier this month ranked San Francisco third behind Los Angeles and San Diego, but per-capita San Francisco leads the state’s large cities in rooftop solar installations. Last year San Francisco ranked last among Bay Area cities for rooftop solar installations. 

“By any measure, our solar energy incentive program has been a stellar success after just one year,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said. “If we continue making smart investments guided by the right priorities, imagine what we can do for our economy and our environment this year and in years to come.”

“The type of leadership that San Francisco is demonstrating is probably unparalleled,” said John Stanton, spokesman for the national Solar Energy Industry Association. “We haven’t seen this type of local government commitment and initiative for a carbon-free future.”

Claudine Schneider, president of the Solar Alliance of solar businesses and a former five-term congresswoman from Rhode Island, said, “We only hope that many other cities follow course,” she said.

Solar panels on roof (San Francisco)

California’s solar incentive program

In 2007, the state of California launched Go Solar California, which included two new solar incentive programs. The goal of the $3.3 billion program is to install 3,000 megawatts (MW) of new solar energy capacity over ten years. The program is part of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) California Solar Initiative (CSI) Program. CSI has a goal of installing 1,940 MW of solar energy capacity by end of the end of 2016. 

A recently released CSI report on Go Solar California showed the following results:

  • California currently has 515 MW of installed solar PV capacity, 226 installed under CSI program
  • New installed solar capacity almost doubled from 2007 to 2008 (81 MW to 156 MW); prior had 30-40 percent yearly growth rate
  • CSI could generate similar level of new installed capacity in 2009; 78 MW installed through May


LMj Sunshine

Good info, thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Good info, thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Good info, thank you.

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado5 years ago

Yes to solar energy and hope that the cost of having one is lowered.

Deborah S.
Past Member 7 years ago

It is uplifting to finally read an article about a city that is doing something good for itself.
What I believe is that until solar panels are affordable, are mass produced there will never be enough homes that use these to slow the effects of global warming.

Carol H.
Past Member 7 years ago

I am glad they are trying to save mother earth but all of us have to do the same thing or it won't matter what California does.

Past Member
Michelle R.7 years ago

the more we can make each home sustaining and feeding to the grid the better. Instead of an energy suck, each home will provide energy instead of having to develope huge powerplants and everyone will be feeding the grid. The technology is getting better and better, but there should be oversight to assure that everything is done to produce the most energy at the least cost to benefit all.

Ralph S.
Ralph S.7 years ago

Don't forget folks that Solar Panels last only about 20 years! And thereafter they are not eco-friendly to recycle. How should solar panels be recycled or destroyed?

Take care,


Scott W.
Scott W.7 years ago

I would love to feature this article on my solar news network -
please email me to discuss. thanks and great work!

Jean A.
Jean A.7 years ago

So goes California so goes the rest of the country. We need more solar in Florida. We would not have to pay a $13 to $17 dollar increase to Progress energy, to help pay for a nuclear plant coming in the future. We have one right up the road mostly powered by coal. So all the respiratory illnesses still remain like asthma, autism. We need solar, and wind to be refined. Until we clean up our energy and carbon emissions are health care cost will continue to climb. Clean energy is what we need.