News

Sun Light & Power designed this impressive array of Suntech panels for Clif Bar and Company's headquarters in Emeryville.  Built in three phases and optimized with Tigo Maximizers, it is the largest SMART array in North America. 
Choosing solar is perfectly aligned with the company aspirations. "It is possible to be profitable and sustainable at the same time." -B.L., Clif Bar

 

We're Hiring!

 

Navigate your passion to About Us/Careers.

Info@sunlightandpower.com

800.233.4SUN or 510.845.2997

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News

March 31st, 2014

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MASH Waitlist Ending April 10!

March 31st, 2014

 

Affordable Housing customers who want to reserve their solar rebates must do so by April 10 at 5 pm in order to get on the wait-list.  After that time no additional reservations will be accepted under this program, and it is unknown when and under what circumstances a new MASH rebate program may start, but it is certain that the rebates will never again be as high as they are right now.
 
In fact, the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing rebate is one of the most generous rebate programs in the entire California Solar Initiative program.  Don’t miss this opportunity to reserve this valuable incentive for your new or retrofit project!
 
Sun Light & Power is a California Benefit Corporation and specializes in serving the energy needs of the affordable housing industry.  As you know, over many years Sun Light & Power has installed hundreds of MASH systems serving thousands of low income housing units, and will, as always, provide comprehensive rebate support for you. Please contact us immediately so that we can guide you through the process and assure you the earliest possible position on the wait-list.
 
Please contact your sales representative, or email us at info@sunlightandpower.com to take action.

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March 31st, 2014

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March 31st, 2014

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Raceway Selection and Installation for PV Systems (Part II)

November 7th, 2013

The second part of Blake Gleason's series "Raceway Selection and Installation for PV Systems" has been released by SolarPro magazine.

[Read the full article here]

 

Conductor management

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Net Metering in California

September 25th, 2013

From The Vote Solar Initiative: "The results are in: net metering benefits California ratepayers! Vote Solar funded consulting firm Crossborder Energy to conduct an in-depth analysis of the costs and benefits of net metering to the ratepayers of the three California IOUs, using a CPUC-approved economic model. The study concludes that net metering’s benefits to the ratepayers of those utilities outweigh the costs: the benefits to ratepayers in SCE, PG&E, and SDG&E territories will total more than $90 million every year by the time the state’s net metering program is fully subscribed at 5% of peak demand."

[View the full report here]

NEM front

NEM back

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SLP in Designer magazine

September 13th, 2013

Sun Light & Power's 57-collector solar thermal project at Rincon Green has earned yet another media mention, this time in the Sustainable Product Watch section of Designer magazine. 

[Read more]

Sustainable Product Watch

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Blake Gleason in SolarPro

September 6th, 2013

Sun Light & Power's Director of Engineering, Blake Gleason, has long since established himself as a highly respected regular contributor for SolarPro magazine. In the October/November issue, Blake shares his technical expertise in this highly detailed article:

[Raceway Selection and Installation for PV Systems: Part One]


SolarPro

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Hunters View in Green Building & Design

September 5th, 2013

Sun Light & Power's active role in the Hunters Point neighborhood revitalization effort in San Francisco includes a number of strong relationships with general contractors, architects, and developers. One such partnership is with local firm Paulett Taggart Architects who are featured in this month's issue of Green Building & Design magazine. 

[Read the full article here]

Hunters View

 

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Rincon Green in Plumbing & Mechanical

September 4th, 2013

Sun Light & Power's 56-collector solar thermal system at the Rincon Green apartment complex in San Francisco was featured in this month’s issue of Plumbing & Mechanical. Read below for an excerpt of the article. [Full text here]

Rincon Green Says 'Welcome!'

by Kelly Faloon

Solar thermal helps this San Francisco apartment building achieve LEED Gold status.

The seven-story, energy-efficient Rincon Green building in the South Market neighborhood of San Francisco, completed in February, is located very close to the Bay Bridge that funnels tens of thousands of vehicles into the city every day. Greeting those commuters and visitors are the 56 Heliodyne Gobi 410 solar thermal collectors with selective surface coating at the top of the LEED Gold-certified apartment building.

“Tenants were moving in very early in 2013, while punch lists and landscaping were still being completed,” says Martin Morehouse, solar thermal sales engineer and estimator at Sun Light & Power, a design/build solar firm based in Berkeley, Calif., that designed and built the system. “The building is now fully leased and has used all the green features as market differentiation.” 


Plumbing & Mechanical

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Gary Gerber in CALSEIA Conference Sessions at Intersolar

July 10th, 2013

Sun Light & Power President & CEO Gary Gerber appeared on a panel called "California Solar Markets: Opportunities and Challenges" at Intersolar earlier this month. Topics included the Feed-in Tariff, Renewable Portfolio Standard, and Net-energy Metering among othersRead some of Gary's comments in the great coverage provided by PV-Tech in their article Intersolar NA 2013: What comes next for California… 50% RPS?


Intersolar NA 2013

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SLP is now an AIA CES Provider!

July 3rd, 2013

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Continuing Education System (CES) has formally welcomed Sun Light & Power as an Approved Provider for 2013! Now that we have joined the Provider network, be on the lookout for quality educational offerings to AIA members and other design professionals worldwide. First on our list of presentations will be a focused lunch + learn series on solar thermal and Title 24 requirements for 2014. Watch this space for more information on how to stay ahead of the curve!

 

AIA CES

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Mercy Riders: Pushing pedals, pushing hope

June 20th, 2013

An ambitious team of cyclists called the mercyRIDERS are currently pedaling across the county raising awareness and support for Mercy Housing, a national non-profit and longtime client and partner of Sun Light & Power. Mercy Housing is celebrating 30 years of dedicated work providing housing, social services, and mortgage assistance to those most in need.

The intrepid mercyRIDERS are hoping to call attention to the work performed by Mercy Housing and have a goal of raising at least $60,000 through their efforts. Send a secure online donation to support their efforts and follow their journey from San Francisco to Washington DC at http://mercyriders.org.

 

Mercy Riders

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Gary Gerber speaks on Joint Forces for Solar discussion panel

May 23rd, 2013

President and CEO of Sun Light & Power, Gary Gerber, recently shared his expertise on Net Metering issues and state policies at the 10th PV Briefing and Networking Forum hosted by Joint Forces for Solar. Gary was joined on the "How to Ensure Sustainable Market Growth in the Downstream Segment" panel by Matthias Altieri, Managing Director, Head of Solar Energy, Thomas Lloyd Group PLC; Bret Young, Sales Director, Samil Power US Inc.; Mark Abrams, Director of Product Management, Enphase Energy; and Boris Schubert, CEO, saferay Inc. This discussion was part of the morning session which focused specifically on the California market. More information about the full program can be found at the Joint Forces for Solar website.

 

Panel Discussion: How to Ensure Sustainable Market Growth in the Downstream Segment?

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Rincon Green at 333 Harrison Street

April 1st, 2013

Highly energy efficient market-rate housing development Rincon Green has been featured in Green Building Community. Among the highlights is the "large 57-collector solar thermal system to help produce hot water for the building’s residents". Read more about the project, the design challenges, and the grand opening gala here: Solar Hot Water Becomes an Attractive Investment for Market Rate Real Estate Developers

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7-array PV system on New Harmony in Davis

April 1st, 2013

Eco-friendly journalism outfit Solar Novus has taken note of the many ways in which solar can benefit affordable housing developments.

"Residential developers are catching onto the fact that putting solar on new housing construction saves money in the long run, plus it adds to the marketability of the home."

A detailed account of the 186kW system built on the rooftops of the New Harmony community in Davis can be found here: Solar on Affordable Housing

 

Aerial Image of New Harmony Apartment Complex, Davis, California. Photo by Donny Lieberman

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Satellite First Communities featured in BuildingFree

March 18th, 2013

Satellite Affordable Housing Associates have made a committment to solar energy that makes both financial and environmental sense. Green design blog BuildingGreen has recognized this effort by noting "Satellite Central, Park Boulevard Manor, Doh On Yuen, Glen Brook Terrace, and Stuart Pratt have provided affordable housing for extremely low-income seniors for over 40 years. Four of these buildings now have solar hot water systems installed by Berkeley’s Sun Light & Power."

Read more here: Solar Thermal Expands With Four New Affordable Housing Installations 

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The New York Times on Crowdfunding Clean Energy

March 6th, 2013

"In January, a company called Mosaic, made a splash in the renewable energy world when it introduced a crowd-funding platform that makes it possible for small, non-accredited investors to earn interest financing clean energy projects. When Mosaic posted its first four investments online – solar projects offering 4.5 percent returns to investors who could participate with loans as small as $25 — the company’s co-founder, Billy Parish, thought it would take a month to raise the $313,000 required. Within 24 hours, 435 people had invested and the projects were sold out. The company had spent just $1,000 on marketing. All told, Mosaic has raised $1.1 million for a dozen solar projects to date. Now it is connecting with other solar developers to identify new projects for financing. More than 10,000 people have already signed on and are standing by to invest."

YEP ribbon cutting ceremony

[Read more from the NYT Opinion Pages]

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Sun Light & Power Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

February 7th, 2013

Sun Light & Power has been recognized as a Rockstar of the new economy by Fast Company and, along with Seventh Generation and King Arthur Flour, has received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. 

"These businesses exemplify qualities particularly important in times of uncertain economic outlook--durability, resilience, and the ability to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing marketplace.

Operating from 25 to nearly 225 years, these companies have maintained their commitment to mission through up and down business cycles, continued to create high-quality jobs and to improve the quality of life in our communities, and paved the way for today’s growing group of green, responsible, and sustainable businesses."

Read the entire article here!

SLP album cover

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Shelter Hill in Mill Valley goes solar

January 10th, 2013

Affordable housing is going green as solar retrofitting and other efficient technologies are being utilized in the refurbishing of a complex in Mill Valley.

Shelter Hill, a 75-unit housing complex in Mill Valley managed by EAH Housing, is going solar starting this month. The solar installation will provide predictable energy bills and reduce the utility costs paid by the residents each month.  

The complex, which hosts four four-bedroom, 40 three-bedroom and 27 two-bedroom apartments, also includes a community room with a kitchen, a computer learning center and outdoor play areas for kids.

Of the 275 to 300 residents who call Shelter Hills home, many are lower income or living on fixed incomes. Reducing the ever rising energy costs will provide a welcome reduction of out of pocketing heating, cooling and electrical costs, EAH officials said.

[Read more from the Mill Valley Herald]

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Gary Gerber appears on Go Green Radio

December 17th, 2012

On December 14th, 2012 Gary Gerber appeared as the guest on Go Green Radio with Jill Buck. Listen to Gary and Jill discuss a number of pertinent questions relating to public policy, climate change, and the future of solar among other topics here or through the embedded video below.

 

 

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SLP, Mosaic, and Youth Employment Partnership celebrate solar

December 12th, 2012

Sun Light & Power, Mosaic, and Youth Employment Partnership joined forces yesterday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the roof of YEP's facility in Oakland. Speakers included Steve Richmond, Chief Financial Officer of Mosaic; Michele Clark, Executive Director of the Youth Employment Partnership; Gary Gerber, Founder and President of Sun Light & Power; Jakada Imani, Executive Director of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Michael Hannigan, Founder and President of Give Something Back; and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Details of the remarks can be found on Mosaic's live blog. A tour of the 47kW rooftop solar PV system followed the speaking program. Peruse the photos at the MercuryNews.com website to see what we saw!

 

 

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SLP joins design team for Helsinki Library in Finland

December 10th, 2012

Sun Light & Power has teamed up with d INKOFF Architects & Engineers Inc in a design competition for The Helsinki Library. SLP is proud to have its engineering prowess recognized around the world. Read more about the competition and see images from the architect at ARCHIscene.

Helsinki Library solar

 

 

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Gary Gerber to teach PG&E's Zero Net Energy Homes class

December 6th, 2012

PG&E is offering a series of six free full-day classes on zero net energy homes, and Gary Gerber will be teaching the session on December 13th.

Click here for more details and register at http://www.pge.com/stockton/

Zero Net Energy cover

 

 

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Clif Bar and Environment California celebrate solar installation

November 13th, 2012

A new report by the Environment California Research & Policy Center highlights how Clif Bar, and other California businesses, save money by cutting global warming pollution.  Clif Bar took the unusual step of installing a large solar system on a very green, LEED Platinum standards office building they are renting.

It is a common misconception among business owners that they must own the building before they can install a solar PV system. Not true! Cassie Cyphers of Clif Bar, Bernadette Del Chiaro of Environment California Research & Policy Center, Gary Gerber of Sun Light & Power, and Assembly member Nancy Skinner all gathered at Clif Bar headquarters in Emeryville to share how Clif Bar is embracing clean energy solutions as a way to reap near-term economic returns.

Read the ABC7 News article here.

 

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Gary Gerber speaks at Sustainable Business Council LA Forum Reception on October 30th

October 19th, 2012

The next SBC Forum Reception will be held on October 30th, 2012 in Santa Monica, CA from 7:00pm - 9:00pm. Steve Glenn, Chair of the Board of the Sustainable Business Council will host the event at his LivingHome, the first home in the nation to be certified LEED Platinum.

Please see this link for more details and information on how to RSVP.

 

** UPDATE: View the video of Gary's presentation here!

 

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First 5 Solar Mosaic projects interconnected

October 1st, 2012

Congratulations to Solar Mosaic who have successfully connected their first five solar projects to the grid!

Asian Resource Center (ARC) - Oakland

People's Grocery - West Oakland

The Murdoch Community Center - Arizona

St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County

Shonto Begay residence

[Read more]

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Gary Gerber speaks on AGRION panel

August 24th, 2012

Gary Gerber, Sun Light & Power President and CEO, recently participated in a highly informative panel discussion hosted by AGRION. The topic was "Taking Advantage of the Promising Residential Solar Market" and the subjects covered included the dropping cost of equipment, solar leasing vs. solar purchasing, new demographics of the solar customer, streamlining the permitting process, and opportunities in residential solar finance structures. Gary was joined by Kristian Hanelt of Clean Power Finance, Danny Kennedy of Sungevity, and Michael Kanellos of Eastwick Communications.

Watch the video here (login may be required).

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SLP Leads Today’s Architectural Style

August 17th, 2012

Sun Light & Power is pleased to share this wonderful write-up in the LEED Points Green Building Blog: Today’s Architectural Style; Lead by Sun Light & Power

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Branson School in Sierra Magazine

August 15th, 2012

Sun Light & Power installed the photovoltaic panels on this LEED Platinum building featured in Sierra magazine: Heart of a High School.

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New financing models for churches

August 14th, 2012

Sun Light & Power is featured in a PV Tech article that discusses crowdfunding as a financing strategy for churches:  New financing models bring solar closer to God

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B Corp Solar Summer

July 25th, 2012

What if the community of Certified B Corps helped thousands of B Corp employees go solar while supporting the work of nonprofit organizations? As a collective, we could:

  • Improve the environment by reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel energy sources
  • Provide our employees with clean and cost-effective solar energy for their homes
  • Channel financial support to nonprofit organizations serving our communities, the environment, and the greater good.

Sun Light & Power has teamed up with other Certified B Corp Solar Providers to offer employees at B Corporations access to solar energy for their homes, plus a $500 gift card and a matching $500 contribution to their employer’s nonprofit of choice.

How does it work?

  • Your company contacts one of the participating B Corp Solar Providers offering residential solar systems in your state.
  • You work with the Certified B Corp Solar Provider to tailor pre-existing educational materials to inform employees how to go solar at home.
  • Each employee that signs up to install a solar energy system for their home receives a $500 gift card from the Certified B Corp Solar Provider.
  • For each employee that signs up, the B Corp Solar Provider will make a $500 charitable donation to a nonprofit organization of your choice.

How do I learn more?

B Lab will host an introductory webinar on Tuesday, July 31st from 11am-12pm PST. During the webinar, we will give a brief overview of each Solar Provider’s offering along with details to learn more and sign up. To register for the webinar, click here.

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Meet Patch Garcia and Doug Parrish

July 23rd, 2012

Sun Light & Power is pleased to announce the addition of Patch Garcia and Doug Parrish to their growing Sales team. Both of these industry leaders bring a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to green technology. Learn more about the new Design Consultants below.

About Patch:

By luck and diligent planning, Ms. Patch Garcia has worked exclusively for organizations on the SF and East Bay Business Times lists of Fastest Growing Companies. This tradition continues at Sun Light & Power where she has returned to work as a Commercial Solar Design Consultant specializing in elevated solar shade structures (“carports”) and large-scale solar thermal systems.

As a veteran of the S.F. Bay Area’s “green scene”, Patch has worked in senior management positions in the solar and energy efficiency industries for over eleven years.  She was the former Chief Culture Officer of Sustainable Spaces/Recurve, and the former General Manager of Sun Light & Power (2003 to 2006). Her experience as an independent consultant includes organizational development and talent acquisition projects for cleantech companies such as Eco Performance Builders, KevelHome Performance, Sunwater Solar, SolarCity, Sungevity, and Watersmart Software.

About Doug:

Prior to joining Sun Light & Power, Doug spent over a decade building and serving in world-class sales organizations. Most recently, Doug served as President of Reddipper.com, a small alternative energy company located in District 10, the last redevelopment area of San Francisco.  Doug lives at the intersection of solar installations, SAAS, and education with an emphasis on helping customers and individuals reduce their carbon footprint.  

Doug has been a key player in the telecom (IP) and technology industry and brings a considerable amount of experience in executive level sales and management. Doug founded IPeffect, a hosted VoIP wholesaler of Covad whose assets were sold to Pac-West.  Doug also co-founded IP Global Voice where he was instrumental in raising $500,000 in financing.  Doug also brings experience in consulting multifamily REIT’s. Mr. Parrish attended the University of California at Berkeley.  An alumni of the NFL and CFL, Doug was privileged to be selected by the New York Jets.

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SLP wins Company Bike Challenge

June 6th, 2012

Sun Light & Power took top honors in the 2012 Company Bike Challenge in the medium-sized company category. This was achieved despite having less employees and less riders than the other front runners. See the results of the month long competition here.

TOP MEDIUM COMPANIES

1. Sun Light & Power 1,061 pts

2. Sungevity 950 pts

3. Exploratorium 872 pts

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Help SLP save NSHP funding!

November 23rd, 2011

Funding for the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) is in trouble! Please sign our petition to help keep this critical incentive alive. Affordable Housing supporters are especially encouraged to participate.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/newsolarhomespartnership/

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SolarPro Magazine Featured Project:

Clif Bar & Company

November 9th, 2011

Clif Bar & Company, a leading maker of energy and nutritional foods and drinks, recently moved into its new headquarters in Emeryville, California. Clif Bar contracted with Sun Light & Power (SLP) of Berkeley, California, to provide a turnkey design/build 531 kW PV system as part of a substantial renovation.

Clif Bar consultants initially rejected using the existing roof of the building for modules due to its broken-up nature and limited structural capacity, and focused instead on the top level of the existing parking garage for the placement of the proposed PV system. However, since Clif Bar wanted to offset as much electrical usage as possible, SLP designed an expanded system on the garage and took on the challenge of using the building roofs as well. The resulting system of 1,968 Suntech 270 W modules, plus Tigo Energy Maximizers, is predicted to offset more than 80% of the anticipated electrical loads at the facility.

[Read more...]

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Gary Gerber interviewed in SolarPro December/January 2012

November 9th, 2011

Pioneering Solar Integration and Corporate Values

Gary Gerber launched Berkeley, California–based Sun Light & Power in 1976 and serves as the company’s president and CEO. He recently began his fourth term as president of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA.) Gerber has co-founded several environmentally focused nonprofits, including Build It Green, Green Resource Center and Sustainable Business Alliance. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a BS in mechanical engineering, is a registered professional engineer in California and holds both B and C46 contractor licenses.

SP: Sun Light & Power appears to be charting a conservative and intentionally sustainable course. What basic principles do you consider in relation to business growth?

GG: It is interesting to me that you characterize my approach to business growth as “conservative.” In many ways, I consider my approach to business growth to be radical and definitely sustainable.

[Read more...]

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Sun Light & Power Wins Bike Friendly Business Award

April 11th, 2011

For the 2nd year in a row, the EBBC will recognize these three bike-friendly workplaces at our fabulous Bike Away from Work Party in Old Oakland on Bike to Work Day, Thursday, May 12, 2011.

“We have had numerous nominations from our members in the first two years of the competition,” said Renee Rivera, Executive Director of the EBBC, “and I wish we could make 30 awards instead of three. So many businesses in the East Bay realize that cycling to work makes their employees healthier, happier, and more productive. It’s good for business as well as for the planet. Each year, we recognize those companies, like Clif Bar, Sun Light & Power, and Alta Planning & Design, that have taken that extra step to motivate their employees to cycle to work.”

Congratulations to three workplaces that set an example for all.

[Read More...]

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Zen & The Art of Environmental Sustainability

March 24th, 2011

Adding solar power to houses of worship

The San Francisco Zen Center is one of the largest Buddhist ‘sanghas’ outside of Asia, functioning as a member residence and offering meditation, monastic retreats, classes, lectures and workshops. The non-profit organization is deeply committed to community outreach, working for peace, and environmental protection. It was this commitment that inspired the Zen Center to contact Sun Light & Power for help in reducing their carbon footprint.

The Zen Center occupies an historic building designed by Julia Morgan in 1922, making the need to preserve the integrity of the building’s aesthetic an added challenge when installing the 20 kW DC photovoltaic solar system. Sun Light & Power’s engineers and design consultants worked with the Center to ensure that the system would be designed to suit the original construction and be virtually invisible from street level while maintaining the highest possible level of efficiency. The result is a seamless integration of modern technology into a landmark building design.

As a non-profit organization, it is especially important to the Zen Center to reduce variable operating costs. The photovoltaic system has significantly reduced their electricity bills and will provide years of free energy, generating thousands of dollars in future savings. And what of the goal to reduce the Center’s carbon footprint? Every year, the system removes 34,524 lbs of CO2 from the air, the equivalent of removing 4 cars from the road, saving 4.4 acres of trees, or preventing 48 barrels of oil from being drilled, transported and burned. In 2008, the Zen Center earned an ‘Energy Oscar for Environmental Commitment,’ presented by California Interfaith Power & Light. Sun Light & Power has designed and installed many customized renewable energy systems for houses of worship. View Portfolio

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Calculating Solar Payback for Your Business

March 23rd, 2011

Calculating solar payback for a business is often a strictly financial exercise. Will this reduce energy costs, and by how much? It is true, solar power can greatly reduce energy expenditures for a typical business. Solar is a fixed energy cost that can protect a business against rising energy prices over periods of up to 25 years or more. Most businesses use the bulk of their energy during daylight hours, when solar power is generated and most utility companies charge peak rates for electricity. Drawing on self-generated power at peak times can result in higher than average savings per kWh.

But calculating solar payback goes beyond simple energy savings. Intangible benefits extend to public goodwill with customers, investors, and employees, which can lead to more sales and better employee recruitment and retention. Solar systems serve as a visible reminder of a company’s commitment to environmental responsibility. Government mandates and a business’ own carbon-reduction goals may provide additional incentives to make the switch to solar power. As experts in commercial solar design and installation, Sun Light & Power can help guide businesses toward the best decision for their unique commercial needs. We are pleased to provide an evaluation of the potential payback from a solar investment in your business without cost or obligation. Get a Free Quote

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Top Considerations for Architects Designing For Solar

March 22nd, 2011

When designing a solar installation it is important to take site conditions as well as energy requirements into consideration. While new construction offers greater flexibility than a remodel, in either case it can be beneficial to have an experienced solar professional as part of your team of consultants, especially on a large commercial project. The following are four important considerations:

1. Position & Orientation – Ideally you want to plan for solar from the beginning and consider a south or west orientation for optimum system performance. The PV modules should be tilted to the south or west to increase efficiency and you want to be sure that obstructions such as mechanical equipment, parapets, other structures or trees do not shade the roof as this will decrease system output.

2. Roof Pitch – If the roof is sloped at 9 degrees or more, the modules will be mounted above the roof membrane at the same slope for aesthetic considerations. If the roof is mostly flat, the system will be mounted on racking above the roof surface, allowing space underneath to re-roof at a later time. The tilt or slope of the arrays will be determined by available space and power goals, as well as aesthetic concerns.

3. Planning for Future Solar Installation – In new construction where solar is not initially specified, have additional conduits installed from the roof to potential inverter locations. Be mindful with mechanical equipment placement to allow for large open areas where PV arrays can be built.

4. Structural Requirements – Consult with your structural engineer to determine whether additional roof load of up to 5 lb per square foot can be accommodated. When framing the roof using trusses, be sure the top cord can accommodate 3.5” lag bolts. Also note that for TJI’s, additional roof blocking may be required.

Sun Light & Power has extensive experience consulting with architects, structural engineers and contractors during the design process. We are happy to review specifications or working drawings and can even assist in writing an RFP for bidding a solar contract. We also conduct detailed informational sessions for your entire staff to learn about solar applications, techniques and the latest trends. Click here to schedule an Architects Lunch & Learn Seminar.

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Gourmet Indian restaurant finds good karma going solar

January 10th, 2011

Restaurants have high energy requirements for lighting, temperature control, cooking, cleaning and refrigeration. Sun Light & Power has the experience serving the food service industry to design the most efficient photovoltaic and solar thermal systems to meet those needs while reducing carbon emissions and saving money.

One example is the installation of ten solar thermal collectors at Dosa in San Francisco, one of the Bay Area’s top restaurants specializing in the rich culinary tradition of Southern India. From countertop to rooftop every aspect of this award-winning restaurant is focused on sustainability.

The engineers at Sun Light & Power designed and installed an active, closed loop thermal system for water heating to meet their needs, while reducing their carbon emissions by 33,754 lbs. annually. The system allows for the most efficient use of limited roof space and a quick return on investment with an estimated equivalent electricity production of over 28,000 kWh per year. According to Dosa’s owner Anjan Mitra, “We are proud to be part of the growing trend toward sustainability and on track to receive LEED certification.”

In the past 18 months, Sun Light & Power has added sizzle to restaurants throughout Northern California, including Taco Bells in Albany and Rancho Cordova, Local 123 Café in Berkeley, Little Star Pizza in Albany and The Plant Café Organic on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. As a result, each of these businesses will achieve substantial savings on costly utilities while reducing its carbon footprint.

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Writing an RFP for a commercial solar installation

January 9th, 2011

When writing a Request For Proposal, engineering specifications can make all the difference and one size doesn’t fit all. It is often best to bring in an expert to help design your system requirements before going out to bid. This way you can accurately define the scope of the project with both construction parameters and equipment specifications prior to requesting proposals from prospective solar contractors.

This benefits your business in two very important ways. First, you can set specific quantifiable goals for energy production, ROI and profitability. Second, you can guard against “scope creep”, otherwise known as “change order purgatory”. By utilizing an expert consultant to design your system and write clearly defined specifications, you can objectively compare installers’ proposals based on cost, scheduling and expertise to ensure that you hire the right firm for your project.

Sun Light & Power offers engineering and project design services for commercial installations independent from our contracting services. We have designed thousands of solar systems, which have addressed a broad range of needs, environments and pre-existing conditions, so we know what will work and what won’t for your specific situation. Led by Blake Gleason, one of the leading solar engineers in the industry, Sun Light & Power employs a team of seven full-time engineers to address both photovoltaic and solar thermal solar system engineering. For a free introductory consultation click here.

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Five things you should know before choosing a solar energy company

December 7th, 2010

Along with greater awareness of the need for energy independence has come extensive competition among solar energy providers. For the business owner or residential customer who is considering the benefits of solar this can be a good thing, but it can also be fraught with confusion and potential problems.

Choosing a solar provider is not just about the price. The following are five things you should consider before entering into a contract for a solar installation:

  1. How long has the company been in business and what kind of reputation do they have?
  2. Do they have extensive experience in the type of installation you require? There can be a very different skill set needed for a large commercial installation, and long-term ROI and maintenance can be more important than the up front cost.
  3. Can the firm demonstrate the expertise to solve a wide range of engineering challenges, or do they offer “cookie-cutter” solutions? A company that has the experience to handle all situations will save you time and money, and deliver the best possible solutions.
  4. What type of hardware technology and manufacturers will they specify for your project? There are new types of solar panels and monitoring devices coming on the market each year. Some proven and some not.  Make sure your provider is capable of evaluating the latest technology so you are sure to get the most efficient system at the most reasonable cost.
  5. Will they provide sufficient design detail prior to a contract? Beware of fuzzy specifications which can lead to expensive change orders down the road. Contact us to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.

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Fast Food Goes Green

November 30th, 2010

Sun Light & Power's solar hot water installation at Taco Bell in Albany, CA was awarded the first commercial rebate check from PG&E under the CSI-T program. Read more from Eneref Institute and www.solarthermalbiz.com.

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Oldest Pool in Bay Area Takes Plunge to be Greenest in Country.
August 20, 2010 - by Andrew Michler, Inhabitat

August 20th, 2010

The oldest and largest existing public pool in the Bay Area shuttered its doors ten years ago due to structural concerns but has re-emerged like a phoenix from the ashes this weekend as the greenest pool in the country! The Richmond Plunge has long been a stable icon of a city with an ever-changing identity. Now the pool represents not just renewal but a leap forward in sustainability with a historic preservation that saves energy, and a huge 80 panel solar thermal system that saves water and chemicals by using saline water. And they did it all without swimming in red ink as the reconstruction and upgrades were all done well under budget.

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Richmond Municipal Natatorium powered by solar

August 15th, 2010

As reported by Eneref Institute and CalFinder Blog, Sun Light & Power has installed a solar pool heating system at Richmond Municipal Natatorium (aka "The Plunge").  The system at this beloved municipal swimming facility consists of 80 Heliodyne Gobi 4x10 collectors. Read more about the sustainable retrofit here.

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California Public Utilities Commission Introduces Incentives for Solar Hot Water Systems

June 1st, 2010

As reported on solarthermalbiz.com, Sun Light & Power is pleased to announce that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has introduced a program of incentives for commercial or residential customers who install Solar Hot Water (SHW) systems. The program, called The California Solar Initiative Thermal (CSIT) Program, is $305.8 million in incentives for new solar thermal systems. The program uses $250 million in funds collected from gas rate payers (pursuant to Assembly Bill 1470), as well as $100.8 million in funds collected from the existing CSI program, earmarked for solar thermal customers by Senate Bill 1, to provide incentives for new SWH systems in California.

The program aims to lower the cost of solar thermal systems by increasing the solar thermal market in California and increasing accessibility to information about the market. Projections from the CPUC foresee California residents who take advantage of the incentive program displacing 585 million therms of gas use and 275.7 million kWh of electricity by the year 2017. The program will also include energy efficiency audits that allow the system owner to see how they can make small changes to aid in conservation.

Contact us to see how these incentives can apply to your system.

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Yun Lee is the Newest Contributor to SolarPro Magazine:
February/March 2010 – “Design and Engineering for Pitched-Roof PV Arrays” by Yun Lee, SolarPro Magazine

March 1st, 2010

Yun Lee, Sr. Design Engineer at Sun Light & Power, joins Engineering Manager, Blake Gleason as a Contributor to SolarPro Magazine. Lee’s article is featured in the cover story. His article explains that with a systematic approach, it is possible to overcome pitched-roof PF monitoring design challenges to provide an efficient and cost-effective system that will perform well for decades.
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PV for the people. Incentives and savvy developers help PV flourish in California affordable housing projects.
February 2010 - by Christopher Warren, Photon

February 1st, 2010

     The first thing any visitor to the roof of the Ironhorse affordable housing development in west Oakland will notice is the striking view. On a clear day, it can feel as if you are standing at the very heart of the San Francisco Bay Area: to the east is the skyline of downtown Oakland and, slightly north, the hills of Berkeley; to the west is truck-clogged Interstate 880, and the towering cranes of the port of Oakland; in the distance, beyond the mileslong Bay Bridge, are the cluster of tightly packed high rises, punctuated by the distinctive Transamerica Pyramid, that make up San Francisco’s financial district.

     Impressive vistas aside, perched at Ironhorse you also have a perfect view of a $41 million newly-constructed – so  new, in fact, that the smell of drying paint fills the air in places – development of 99 rental apartments designed to house lower-income families and seniors, which in this case means people who earn no more than 50 percent of the area’s median income, or somewhere between $18,000 and $50,000 annually. Ironhorse is the affordable  component of a much larger, 28-  acre master-planned development called  Central Station, which is transforming an  old industrial tract of land once owned  by Union Pacific Railroad into a mixeduse  area that includes between 1,200 and  1,500 mostly market rate condos and  live-work lofts. What’s noticeable, even  jarring, is that while the flat roofs that make up the Ironhorse apartments are  nearly covered with 832 Mitsubishi PV  modules – capable of generating 209,000  kWh annually, or enough to supply about  60 percent of the power needed to run  the lights, elevators, and everything else  in the complex’s common area – the surrounding  roofs of the market rate units  are completely devoid of solar panels.

     As it turns out, the embrace of solar  by Bridge Housing Corporation, the San  Francisco-based developer of Ironhorse, is  anything but a surprise. Indeed, all over  California an increasing number of affordable  housing developers are incorporating  PV into both their newly built apartment  complexes as well as retrofitting existing  buildings. For example, Los Vecinos, a  42-unit affordable housing development  opened in Chula Vista near San Diego last  year. The development features a 93 kW  rooftop array that provides all of the necessary  power. The list of projects already  underway or completed in the Golden State  goes on and on. But the incorporation of  solar into affordable housing isn’t confined  to large, multi-family projects. Individual  low-income homeowners have also installed  new solar arrays on their rooftops.

Big Incentives equal more installations

     This burst of PV installations on all  forms of affordable housing is occurring  by design, specifically as a result of provisions  of the California Solar Initiative  (CSI), which offers sweetened incentives  to encourage these types of projects. »The  economics of any solar project are driven  by incentives,« says Tom Milhoff, vice  president of business development for Helio  Micro Utility, a Berkeley-based project developer that finances, owns, and operates  PV systems at affordable housing developments  via Power Purchase Agreements  (PPAs). »That’s the lynchpin of affordable  housing in California.« 

     The California Public Utilities Commission  (CPUC) has mandated that 10 percent  of the CSI’s roughly $2.16 billion budget be  earmarked to support the installation  of PV at low-income residences.  That 10 percent, or $216  million, has been divided in half,  with $108 million going to fund  the Multifamily Affordable Solar  Housing (MASH) program, which  supports the addition of PV to  existing, mostly apartment-style  dwellings. The remaining $108  million has been set aside to help individual  homeowners through the Single-Family  Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program.  The MASH program is administered by  the state’s three investor-owned utilities,  Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern  California Edison (SCE), and San Diego  Gas & Electric (SDG&E), while the SASH  program is being handled by the Berkeleybased  non-profit Grid Alternatives. 

     Most importantly, the MASH and SASH  programs provide higher levels of incentives  to support solar installations at eligible  affordable housing projects. The SASH program, for instance, provides incentives  between $4.75 and $7.00 per W, the level of  which depends on factors such as a household’s  federal income tax liability, and  whether or not their earnings are less than  80 percent of the area’s median income. The  SASH program also makes it possible for certain  homeowners at or below 50 percent of the area’s median income to receive a fullysubsidized  (i.e. free) 1 kW PV system.

     The MASH program, which is broken  into two so-called »tracks,« also offers higher  incentive rates than what is available to  standard CSI participants – when we went  to press, PG&E, which had reached track  six of the CSI, was offering $1.10 per W for  both residential and commercial projects.  By contrast, track one of MASH provides  for a fixed, upfront rebate of $3.30 per W  for a PV system that offsets a development’s  common area load, and $4.00 per W if the  system offsets individual tenants’ electricity usage. Track two is designed to give incentives to install systems that, essentially,  reduce an apartment building owner’s power  costs, so long as the owner then passes  those savings on to the tenants. 

     Regardless of how the CSI incentives for  affordable housing are structured, the important  thing to remember is that they provide  the necessary financial boost to make  the projects viable. Gary Gerber, president  and founder of Sun Light and Power, a  Berkeley-based PV system designer and installer,  has done dozens of installations at  affordable housing projects, including the  one at Ironhorse. He says that there is also a  tight knit culture amongst developers that  is helping speed the spread of solar. »It  has spread virally, and we’re seeing it now  where it is a rarity for an affordable housing  project not to have solar,« he says.

Making solar more democratic

     MASH, DASH, CSI, PPA and AMI: this  acronym alphabet soup, a shorthand for  the programs and requirements that make  it possible to incorporate solar into different  affordable housing developments,  can be bewildering. But before trying  to unravel the complexity of financing  and developing PV for affordable  housing, it helps  to understand why policymakers,  homeowners,  and landlords alike see real  value in installing PV.

     On a very personal level,  they’re doing it for people  like Mardina Graham. Graham,  who owns a home in  the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco,  not far from Candlestick Park, used  to wonder if her utility, PG&E, had mistaken  her for someone else. »It was funny,  I would call them and ask if they had me  at a commercial rate rather than residential.  Compared to my friends and neighbors  my bill seemed very high,« she says. 

     Luckily for Graham, a retired postal  worker, she attended a community meeting  in 2006 where someone mentioned  that the city of San Francisco was offering  to pay for solar installations at the homes  of low-income residents. Graham filled out an application for the program and,  before she knew it, officials from the city  had processed her application, come out to  her home to inspect the roof, and approved  the installation of a PV system. Not long  afterwards a group of volunteers organized  by the non-profit Grid Alternatives showed  up at her house and completed the installation  over the course of one weekend. »All  these people just show up at your house  and it’s amazing to see what they can do  with volunteer help,« she says. 

     While Graham certainly found the level  of community spirit heartwarming, far more  important has been the reduction in her utility  bills; since her PV system was installed,  Graham has reduced the amount she pays  PG&E each month by around two-thirds.  Graham has also witnessed a proliferation of  solar in her neighborhood, with five nearby  homes sporting their own PV panels. 

     Graham’s experience is exactly the sort  of scenario Erica Mackie likes to highlight.  Mackie, a co-founder and executive director  of Grid Alternatives, a non-profit installer  focused exclusively on helping low-income  families go solar, and now the administrator  of the state’s SASH program, underscores  the economic benefits a PV system  can provide to people of modest economic  means. »Why should wealthy folks get solar  when folks who are struggling month  to month to pay their mortgage, and buy  food, and put their kids in school…need  solar all the more,« she asks.

The business case

     Even those who are renters rather than  homeowners look to the economic advantages  solar energy provides. »It will help  lower the cost utility-wise,« says Sheila  Marrow, a longtime resident of Crescent  Park in Richmond, California, a 378 unit  development that was retrofitted to include  what is believed to be the largest PV system,  900 kW, powering an affordable housing  project. »I’m excited we have it.« 

     As excited as Marrow is, chances are  that she’s not quite as tickled as Mary  Murtagh, the president and CEO of San  Rafael, California-based EAH Housing,  the outfit that owns and operates Crescent  Park, and develops affordable housing around California and Hawaii. Murtagh,  whose company manages 84 properties in  total, says she got a very personal business  lesson in what it means not to have  the kind of predictable electricity costs PV  can offer. In the early part of the decade,  she says, EAH Housing was hit hard by  the big energy price spikes many believe  were caused by the manipulation of the  California energy market by Enron, the  infamous and now defunct energy services  company. »Enron cost us hundreds of  thousands of dollars,« says Murtagh. 

     By working with project developer Helio  Micro Utility, EAH Housing was able to arrange  a PPA for the PV system at Crescent  Park. Besides meeting EAH’s sustainability  goals the new solar array, which provides  between 60 and 80 percent of the energy  required at Crescent Park, reduces the  risks of another Enron-like situation. »We  were driven by the operating benefits to  the property,« says Andy Blauvelt, project  manager at EAH. »We could predict stable  operating costs for 18 to 20 years.« 

     David Eagan, who also does project management  for EAH, says that consistency also  helped in paying for the solar installation,  which cost $8 million. »We were able to  project out that we could reduce our electrical  bill netting into a higher net operating  income that would manage a loan that  was about $3 million higher than we would  have otherwise been able to support,« he  says. »That helped pay for the solar.« 

     When it comes to affordable housing  – which is in desperately short supply in  expensive areas of California, making it  impossible for people who work as teachers,  firefighters or police officers to live  near their work – PV can arguably help  increase the number of units available to  low and moderate income people. Walker  Wells, the director of the green urbanism  program at the Santa Monica-based nonprofit  Global Green, makes the case that PV  can help prevent evictions of low-income  families. »Instead of having a [utility]  bill that fluctuates from $30 to $130 per  month, they have a bill that can fluctuate  between $9 and $15. When you learn that  failure to pay utilities is the number two  reason for eviction, after not paying rent, that means less exposure to financial risk  to low-income people,« he says. »I think  you get a more stable pool of affordable  housing developments in a community  because the owner-developers are less exposed  to that risk and you are creating an  increased financial security for the tenants,  which is the point of affordable housing.«

It's complicated? No problem

     It doesn’t take much more than a quick  glance at the »financial partners« listed as  supporting the Ironhorse apartment complex  to get the impression that developing  affordable housing, with or without solar, is  a complex affair. Here’s the complete list: The  Redevelopment Agency of the City of Oakland,  the California Department of Housing  and Community Development, Oakland  Housing Authority, Federal Home Loan Bank  of San Francisco, Union Bank, US Bancorp  Community Development Corporation, and,  last but not least, Wachovia Mortgage FSB. 

     When it comes to the construction of  new affordable rental units, this myriad  of financial backers  is almost standard.  And while it’s not  surprising to see  city and state entities  involved, what  is it that drives big  banks to get involved  with lowincome  housing?  In short, it’s a result  of the federal  Low Income Tax Credit program (LITC),  which provides tax credits for corporations  that invest in affordable housing –  a real benefit for institutions, like banks,  that want to trim their tax bill. But there  are restrictions that accompany the LITC,  often including the requirement that developers  who use it ensure that the affordable  housing units they build remain affordable  for at least 15 years. 

     Ben Metcalfe, who spearheaded the development  of Ironhorse for Bridge Housing,  says what usually happens is a general partner-  limited relationship develops between  the equity investor and the non-profit developer.  »We solicit a major corporation to come in and take a 99 percent equity ownership  of a project in exchange for federal tax  credits,« he says. »In this case, the investor  was US Bank, and they basically come in and  own 99 percent of the project, and Bridge is  the developer and we have a 1 percent share,  but have managing control.« After 15 years,  says Metcalfe, Bridge fully owns and operates  Ironhorse. Metcalfe says that Bridge had  to bring in additional investors beyond US  Bank because after 10 years their tax credits  are fully vested and the developer needed to  have financial backing to support the project  between year 10 and year 15, when they  take ownership of the development. 

     Got all that? Surely your head must be  spinning after reading that gross oversimplification  of how new affordable housing  is financed. What matters most when it  comes to solar is that there are plenty of  developers who have the savvy and expertise  to pull it off. As Gary Gerber of Sun  Light & Power says, their everyday work is  exceedingly complex: »To put one of these  projects together, it seems you are juggling about six or seven balls, and they all have  to stay in the air in order to get one of these  things to actually land.« Gerber insists that  »one reason affordable housing developers  and owners have taken so quickly to solar  – as complex as it can be in terms of financing  – [because] they deal with much higher  levels of complexity all the time.« 

     While savvy certainly helps, so do some  of the requirements for accessing the LITC.  For instance, Walker Wells of Global Green  underscores the typical stipulation that developers  must keep their apartments affordable  for at least 15 years as an incentive to  include solar. Wells says that the financing  and deal structure to get the development built usually isn’t touched for 15 years. »It’s  a big advantage because even with government  subsidies, and with the current cost of  electricity, from what I see it’s hard to have  a PV system paying itself back in much less  than 10 years or 7 years,« he says. »So you’re  able to have a 15 year time horizon, and a  much longer window to work with for payback  or return on investment than you ever  would get with a market rate project.«

New benefits, long-term uncertainty

     Elevated incentives aren’t the only  reason solar has become so popular with  affordable housing developers. California  has also taken a number of steps recently  to make it easier to include PV in both  new and existing multifamily affordable  housing projects. One particularly important  new measure is what’s known as the  California Utility Allowance Calculator  (CUAC), which was unveiled in January  of 2009, and has significance mostly for  developers involved with building new affordable  apartments who want to utilize the  benefits afforded by  the state’s New Solar  Homes Partnership.  Developers interested  in building  new affordable  housing units via  state and federal  LITC have to apply  to the California  Tax Credit Allocation  Committee  (TCAC). As part of the application process,  developers must include an estimate  of their project’s monthly income and expenses,  including a calculation of utility  costs tenants will likely have to pay each  month. The problem with this, however,  is that traditionally utility costs are figured  by using the allowance schedules of  local public housing authorities, which  are typically based on a portfolio of buildings,  many of which are inefficient and  require a lot of electricity – this usually  meant that utility cost estimates were far  too high. CUAC now enables developers  to make far more accurate predictions of  an individual project’s utility costs, by taking into account not only any proposed  energy-saving measures the builder  wants to incorporate, but also the impact  of a PV system on those expenses. 

     This makes PV even more attractive financially  for developers of new affordable  housing. Why? Because when a developer  can more accurately project what his PVassisted  utility costs will be, they will have  a higher projected monthly net income.  That, in turn, means they’ll be able to access  more tax credits to finance their project.  Wells says that the additional tax credit  equity that a PV system can provide – when  combined with the federal investment tax  credit (ITC) and state rebates – can actually  cover the entire cost of a PV system. »They could put up a system to take up all their  electrical use on their meter and pay for it  with cash from day one,« he says. 

     In addition to providing higher incentives,  the MASH program has also introduced  the idea of virtual net metering  (VNM) for existing affordable housing projects.  Only available for on-site PV at multifamily  affordable housing projects, VNM  makes it possible for solar to provide power  for both a development’s common areas as  well as its tenants. In the past, affordable  housing developers only used PV to cover  common area loads, since providing solar  energy to tenants required installing an individual  PV system, inverter, and meter for  each unit. That was too much trouble for most developers. »Those problems made  apartment PV pretty much useless. Except  for common areas, we weren’t doing apartments,  « says Sun Light & Power’s Gerber.  »MASH takes care of that because now we  can install a single PV system for the entire  complex and take output from that system,  separately meter it, and apply the energy  proportionally to the units there.« 

     All of this is good news when it comes to  increasing the amount of solar on affordable  housing in California. But there is a hitch:  the MASH program, which has facilitated  the addition of PV to existing buildings, was  almost out of money when PHOTON went  to press. Katie Romans, a spokesperson for  PG&E, says that of the $33 million the utility  had been allotted for MASH, $32.7 million  had been claimed since the program  began in July of 2009; Romans also says  that there is a waiting list of 52 additional  projects, totaling $10 million. »The rapid  adoption of this program speaks to the fact  that there is a need,« she says.

     It remains to be seen whether there will  be any additional funding. Romans certainly  seems amenable, given the initial  reaction to MASH. »I think we will have a  good case to expand the program,« she says. 

     Plenty of developers will be watching  what the CPUC decides. Andy Blauvelt at  EAH Housing says he has a laundry list of  developments beyond Crescent Park that  he’d like to equip with PV. »We have other  properties we want to retrofit, but MASH  ran out of money, and until that gets renewed  we have stopped,« he says. »We will  install the panels on new construction,  but that is also related to the New Solar  Homes Partnership, and if those rebates  run out, we will stop that too.«

     Obviously, Gerber, whose company has  done many affordable housing installations,  doesn’t want to see that happen.  Gerber would like to build on his track record  of supplying PV to people for whom  it might otherwise be out of reach. »I  couldn’t be prouder to have such a large  body of the work we do go to the benefit  of people who need it most,« he says.  »Anything that shows people that solar  actually is affordable, and isn’t just for the  rich, is important.«

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Cheap Hot Water? Just Add Sunshine.
January 28, 2010 – by Gwendolyn Bounds, Wall Street Journal

January 28th, 2010

Bill Banack doesn't fancy himself an environmental "fanatic," but his showers, dishwasher and washing machine all use renewable energy these days. The source: three slim solar panels perched atop his 2,200-square foot Hadley, Mass., home. They don't provide electricity—they send him heat for hot water. "I'm not belittling the green movement, but mostly we wanted to save money," says Mr. Banack, who now shuts off his gas boiler in the summer except during stretches of cloudy days. Mr. Banack estimates his heating-fuel bills have dropped at least 25% since adding the system, which cost about $6,000 after tax credits. "This is a form of independence," he says.
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After Six Decades of Slumber, Solar Water Heaters to Wake Up in California
January 22, 2010 – by Michael Kanellos

January 22nd, 2010

Will rebates ignite the market finally? And could it even help PV sales? The California PUC has approved a $350 million dollar program that will encourage state residents to install solar thermal water heaters. Homeowners will get up to $1,500 in rebates for swapping out their existing heaters for solar ones. Like the credits for installing photovoltaic systems, the rebates will diminish over time so start early. Commercial buildings and multifamily dwellings will also qualify for benefits. Solar thermal hot water heaters were big business in California in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly in Santa Monica, Berkeley, and Los Angeles. Approximately 75 percent of the homes in the U.S. could take advantage of solar technology, said Jane Davidson, a professor at the University of Minnesota and the director of the Solar Energy Laboratory.
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California to Subsidize Solar Water Heaters
January 22, 2010 – by Todd Woody, The New York Times

January 22nd, 2010

California regulators on Thursday approved a $350 million program to subsidize the installation of solar water heaters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program will allocate $250 million for the replacement of hot water heaters fueled by natural gas and $100.8 million for those powered by electricity. Solar hot water systems typically consist of a storage tank and a rooftop array that collects heat from the sun to warm the water. Customers of California’s three big investor-owned utilities will receive rebates of up to $1,500, or about 30 percent of the cost of replacing a residential natural-gas hot water heater with a solar system. Owners of multifamily commercial buildings are eligible for up to $500,000 in incentives.
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Sun Light & Power Interviewed About Green Jobs

December 17th, 2009

Read interviews with Sun Light & Power’s Eric & Heidi on Linda SolarSun’s blog.
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Sun Light & Power Wins Build It Green Award
December 16, 2009 – by Robert Gammon

December 16th, 2009

Berkeley-based Build It Green recognized some of the leaders in the world of green construction at an awards reception last week in downtown Oakland. The East Bay award winners included Berkeley-based Sun Light & Power, which has been doing solar installations since the late 1970s. "They've been a leader in solar power for thirty years," noted David Myers of Build It Green.
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Crescent Park, the Largest Affordable Housing Solar Installation in America
Nov/Dec 2009 – by Mary Murtagh, Solar Today

November 1st, 2009

Sun Light & Power was pleased to work with EAH, West Coast Contractors and architects Okamoto Saijo on Crescent Park in Richmond, CA. The project is the largest affordable housing solar installation in America.
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Gary Gerber interviewed in AltenergyMag
October/November 2009 – “AltenergyMag Interview, Installing Solar Systems”

November 1st, 2009

As a recognized solar industry pioneer, Gary is President of CALSEIA – the California Solar Energy Association, using his three decades of knowledge to grow the solar industry for all companies.
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David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza Win ABAG Award

October 30th, 2009

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) gave WRT | Solomon's David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza a 2009 "Building a Better Bay Area - Urban Design" award. The award is a new category in ABAG's Growing Smarter Together awards program, which is in its third year. The award was one of five given out this year by ABAG, which is a regional planning agency incorporating various local governments in California's San Francisco Bay Area. The David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza, a competition-winning design for downtown Berkeley, builds upon the inherent richness of the city with a combination of affordable housing, environmental education and a venue for art and the arts community.
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Green Inc.: Do Green Jobs Create Greener Americans?
October 29, 2009 – by Liz Galst, GreenInc

October 29th, 2009

Green-job training programs, designed to transition low-income workers to join the nascent clean-tech economy, may be churning out citizens with a higher environmental consciousness. Most “green job” training programs aim to teach low-income workers the job skills necessary to join the nascent clean-tech economy. “I’m getting greener,” declared one recent graduate of a San Francisco-area program that trains solar-panel technicians. Consider, for example, Wayne Gatlin, who graduated in the spring of 2008 from Solar Richmond, a San Francisco-area group that prepares low-income adults for jobs in California’s burgeoning solar industry. “I’m getting greener,” said Mr. Gatlin, who earns far more as a photovoltaics installer for the Berkeley-based Sun Light & Power than he did working security or selling shoes at an Adidas retail store.

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B Stands for 'Benefit'

October 29th, 2009

Continuing in its leadership, Sun Light & Power is proud to announce that we have become a Certified B Corporation™. B Corporations are a new kind of corporate designation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. They are the foundation of a new sector of the economy that communicates with the amplified voice of other like-committed sustainable businesses. In this era where many are merely adding the word “green” to their names, Certified B Corporations must meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and most importantly, accountability. Sun Light & Power has met the stringent B Corporation performance standards as measured by our impact on our employees, suppliers, community, customers and the environment.
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Sun Light & Power receives SunPower’s Intelegant Award
October 26, 2009

October 26th, 2009

Sun Light & Power received SunPower’s Intelegant Award for an exemplary residential solar installation. The Intelegant, a combination of intelligent + elegant, project is located in the town of San Mateo, California. The award was presented at the Annual SunPower Dealer Conference on Monday. Accepting the award for Sun Light & Power were Gary Gerber (President), Martin Pedley (COO), Blake Gleason (Engineering Manager), and Eric Nyman (Sales Manager). The criterions for the award were an exemplary residential SunPower installation based on customer satisfaction, aesthetics of installation, and technical perfection of installation.

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Sun Light & Power installation, 'Ironhorse at Central Station' featured in GreenPoint Showcase Tour
October 4, 2009

October 4th, 2009

Sun Light & Power is proud to announce the inclusion of 'Ironhorse at Central Station' in this year's GreenPoint Showcase Tour co-hosted by Build It Green and KTVU Channel 2. The project features 153.92 kW of PV (832 Mitsubishi 185's, solar electric) and 32 Heliodyne Gobi 410's (1280 square feet solar thermal water heating) and earned 116 points on the GreenPoint scale. Building owner Bridge Housing, General Contractor J. H. Fitzmaurice, and David Baker + Associates Architects are also to be congratulated on this project which will provide 99 apartments for families earning up to 50 percent of area median income. 'Ironhorse' stands at the center of Central Station, an exciting reintegration of approximately 29 acres of unused industrial land into the surrounding residential neighborhood. .
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Sun Light & Power Shows Community Commitment
September/October, 2009 - by Zoey Burrows, Solar Today

October 1st, 2009

Sun Light & Power applauds the work of Solar Richmond, a solar training and placement program that offers skills and a new life to at-risk residents. Several graduates of the program have become installers at Sun Light & Power, including featured installer Wayne Gatlin.
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Berkeley Bowl West Gets PV
September/October, 2009 - Solar Today

October 1st, 2009

Berkeley Bowl West, an extension of the iconic supermarket in Berkeley, CA, opened in July powered by a 111kW solar electric system installed by Sun Light & Power. Page 24.
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Solar Power and Your Business
September 18, 2009 - by Lindsay Holloway, LA Business Technology Examiner

September 19th, 2009

The California Legislature has been abuzz. Among the topics being discussed and voted on were several environmental issues, including the push for more solar power in California. Despite the impending concern for improving the economy's current state, legislators showed that the environment is still a top priority. One of solar adoption's biggest deterrents is the upfront installation costs. However, while costs for other energy sources continue to rise, experts say the costs for solar materials and installation are on the decline. "Since the 1970s when the solar energy market was virtually nonexistent, the industry has seen 100-fold price decreases," says Gary Gerber (President and founder of Sun Light & Power, Berkeley, CA), who's been in the industry for more than three decades...
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Solar-Powered, Affordable Housing Community Nears Completion
September 14, 2009 - Solar Buzz

September 14th, 2009

Richmond, California’s Crescent Park is the largest solar-powered affordable housing community in America. Gary Gerber, President of Berkeley’s Sun Light & Power said: “I am honored and pleased that EAH chose Sun Light & Power to build America’s largest affordable housing solar project here at Crescent Park. Sun Light & Power’s engineering expertise and our 33 years of experience designing and installing solar systems made us a great match with EAH, who clearly recognize that solar electricity must play a pivotal role in providing the renewable energy this country needs to reduce our environmental impact and stabilize our future energy costs.”

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Sun Light & Power Wins a 2009 Green Dot Award for Service

August 25th, 2009

The Green Dot Awards received over 500 entries from 18 countries. The purpose of Green Dot is to reward those who practice excellence in environmental responsibility, to promote forward-thinking businesses that create environmentally friendly products or services and to reward revolutionary green business plans and proposals. Sun Light & Power was recognized as the Winner in the Services category. Other notable Winners included Parducci Wine Cellars in the Products category and Coca Cola Enterprises in the Entertainment & Culture category.

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Plant Cafe 'Cooks Food with the Sun'
August 23, 2009

August 23rd, 2009

The San Francisco Chronicle recently spotlighted The Plant Cafe in its weekend review. In addition to a restaurant review, The Plant Cafe's solar array, a Sun Light & Power installation, was noted.
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Sun Light & Power Listed as One of the Fastest-growing Private Companies in America
August 12, 2009 – Inc. Magazine

August 12th, 2009

Sun Light & Power has once again made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America. With this accomplishment, Sun Light & Power joins the rarified company of enterprises that have appeared on the list multiple times, many of which have grown to become national icons. Inc. recognizes the creativity, dedication and hard work that have gone into building Sun Light & Power into what it is today.

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Sun Light & Power Nominated for Green America's 'People's Choice Award'
August 6, 2009

August 12th, 2009

Through the month of August, America is voting for the Green Business of the Year. Sun Light & Power has been formally nominated to receive the award.

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Branson School Going Solar-Powered
August 2009

August 1st, 2009

The Branson School in Ross in Marin County, California will have a new solar energy system installed by Berkeley's Sun Light & Power; to produce 22,854 Kilowatt Hours per year. The campus is already high-tech, with a fully integrated, fiber optic and wireless network linking all academic classrooms, administrative, arts and athletic buildings to one another and to the internet. Sun Light & Power is installing an array of (138) SunPower 230 modules on the student commons and the science quad. The building partners are Herrero Contractors as the general contractor. Allied Irish Bank is the construction lender. The architect for the job is Turnbull Griffin Haesloop of San Francisco.

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Daylight Robbery
July 24-30, 2009 – San Francisco Business Times

July 24th, 2009

Solar Panels - popular with thieves. Enterprising thieves are snatching a growing number of solar panels from Bay Area wineries, school, homes and municipal land, leaving solar installers scrambling to add theft deterrent measures to their systems.
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Bay Area Solar Installations (BASI) Report
July 15, 2009

July 15th, 2009

New 2008 BASI Report finds continued strong solar growth in Bay Area Region in line with California Solar Incentive Goals (CSI). Over 31 Megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) were added in the Bay Area in 2008 representing 28% of state total and a 26% growth over 2007. In 163 Bay Area cities and 10 Bay area counties, 3,630 new installations were added representing 11% growth in the number of installations over 2007. Commenting on the news in the report, Gary Gerber, President of Sun Light & Power in Berkeley said: "This new Bay Area Solar Report is a key measure of the growth of solar in the Bay Area, providing energy independence for homes and businesses while reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases." The data tables and PDF report may be downloaded from the NorCal website.
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Berkeley Bowl West celebrates grand opening
July 13, 2009

July 13th, 2009

The new Berkeley Bowl West uses 636 solar panels installed by Sun Light & Power to produce 149,633 kWh of electricity per year. The solar-powered Berkeley Bowl West, an extension of the iconic Berkeley Bowl supermarket will have a grand opening as a new branch store on Monday, July 13 at 920 Heinz Street in Berkeley. The building's energy needs includes the lighting and extensive power demands from refrigeration and other electrical needs.
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Berkeley Bowl Opens Sister Location Powered by Solar Energy
July 13, 2009 -- Progressive Grocer

July 13th, 2009

The new store, called Berkeley Bowl West, worked with local green design firm Sun Light & Power on the project. The Sharp 175 PV panels installed by Sun Light & Power are expected to generate 149,633 kilowatt-hours every year and eliminate 179,560 pounds of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere to power a facility of its size.
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Sun Light & Power Leads by Example
March 20, 2009 – “Sun Light & Power Goes Beyond Solar,” Matter Network: News & Ideas for a Sustainable World

March 20th, 2009

There are companies that attempt to greenwash by giving lip service to their environmental practices. And then there are companies that are awash in truly green technology. Sun Light & Power is a great example of a company that has integrated clean technology and energy efficiency throughout its organization.
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Sun Light & Power Engineering Manager, Blake Gleason, Authors Article about Electrical Test Equipment

February/March, 2009 – SolarPro Magazine

March 1st, 2009

Of the many tools you use to install and maintain a PV system, electrical test equipment may not be your first priority. But....
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Sun Light & Power Helps LJ Kruse Achieve LEED Status
February 22, 2009

February 22nd, 2009

LJ Kruse applies for Platinum LEED status, citing solar panel installation as integral to their green commitment.
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SLP’s Gary Gerber Reelected to CALSEIA presidency
December 2008 (California):

December 15th, 2008

Gary Gerber, co-founder and president of Sun Light & Power, was reelected President of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) for his second annual term. Gary has been involved with CALSEIA since shortly after its formation in 1977. For the past two years he has been chairman of the Policy Committee, addressing:

  • Issues related to determining the industry position on the many provisions of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) and the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP)
  • The rate design and Time of Use policies,
  • The shading calculations for the Estimated Performance Buy-down Program, and
  • The federal Solar Tax Credit extension and the state Solar Thermal rebate program, among other activities.
  • Most recently Gary has represented CALSEIA and small solar contractors in a meeting with the governor’s staff and the CPUC regarding improving the CSI; he has worked with the CALSEIA team in months of regular meetings with the CA state Fire Marshal regarding state-wide design guidelines; and has traveled to Washington DC to lobby for extension of the solar ITC and elimination of the residential $2,000 tax credit cap.

Gary feels that the major challenges facing CALSEIA and its members include:

  • Continuing to improve the CSI, NSHP and EPBB rules and policies,
  • Continuing to lobby for the federal Solar Tax Credit extension,
  • Helping to create a viable feed-In tariff for California,
  • Working with the State Fire Marshal on a statewide guideline for solar system design,
  • Creating a CALSEIA-branded solar installer training program.

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Energy Award to San Francisco Zen Center
December 12, 2008

December 12th, 2008

San Francisco Zen Center has earned an “Energy Oscar” for its efforts to use renewable energy. As part of its efforts, the center utilizes a photovoltaic system designed and installed by Sun Light & Power. The award was one of several presented by California Interfaith Power & Light (CIPL) to its member organizations. The CIPL unites almost 500 congregations statewide who are dedicated to addressing global warming within the faith community. Since its founding in 2001, CIPL has mobilized religious support for landmark legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California, educated hundreds of thousands of congregants, and worked with every major religious denomination in the state. CIPL member congregations have reduced CO2 emissions in their own houses of worship by over 20 million pounds.

In August 2005, Sun Light & Power (SLP) completed the design and installation of a photovoltaic (PV) system that would provide significant energy but not disrupt the building’s original architecture, as designed by Julia Morgan in 1922. Mounting brackets to support the PV modules were installed close to the roof, so that the profile of the array is not visible from the ground and does not contrast drastically with the historical architectural style of the building. Power is provided by 120 Sharp 175-Watt modules and three Sunny Boy 6000 Inverters producing 21 kilowatts of peak power
As of March 2007, the system had produced over 400,000 kWh of electricity and offset the release of over 499,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

CIPL: http://www.interfaithpower.org/
Zen Center: http://www.sfzc.org/zc/display.asp?catid=1,5&pageid=1

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Bright Days Ahead for Solar in California
December 11, 2008

December 11th, 2008

Today the California Air Resources Board approved state standards that will push utilities there to use less fossil fuel for generating electricity. The express reason for the new, tougher anti-emissions regs: combat global warming.
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Marin Leads Bay Area in Use of Solar Energy
November 25, 2008

November 25th, 2008

Marin has the highest number of solar energy systems per capita among the nine Bay Area counties, according to data from a new report on sun energy in the region.
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San Francisco Food Bank - Working to End Hunger; Now Fed with Green Energy
May 13, 2008

May 13th, 2008

The San Francisco Food Bank collects and distributes most of the food that local human service agencies use to fight hunger.
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Bay Area Performing Arts Group Going Green
February 25, 2008 – by Robert Hurwitt, Chronicle Theater Critic, San Francisco Chronicle

February 25th, 2008

The Shotgun Players' Ashby Stage became the first theater in the Bay Area - and possibly in the nation - to convert to solar power. It's part of being a good neighbor in south Berkeley. "We address these issues in our art, but we wanted to find a way to pay them more than lip service."
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Non-profits find path to affordable clean energy
December 14, 2007 – by Elizabeth Browne, San Francisco Business Times

December 14th, 2007

Bay Area non-profits are rethinking their missions to include solar power. Churches, theaters and community centers are among the groups striving to cut their energy bills and make an impact on the environment through solar installations.
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Berkeley Mayor Announces Plan To Make Solar Energy Financing Easier -
Oct.23, 2007 (BCN)

October 23rd, 2007

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates today announced a plan for his city to be the first in the nation to allow property owners to pay for energy efficiency improvements and solar system installations as a long-term assessment on their individual property tax bills.
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GoSolarSF

October 22nd, 2007

NEW Solar Energy Incentive Program -- The City of San Francisco is offering residents and businesses new financial incentives to encourage them to install solar power on their properties. The incentive program, GoSolarSF, together with the California Solar Initiative (rebate program sponsored by the State of California), and federal tax credits, could equal half the cost (or more) of a solar power system installed in San Francisco.

Benefits
GoSolarSF offers residents up to $4,000, and businesses up to $10,000 to install solar power. Low-income residents can qualify for an additional $7,000. For the first year of the program, non-profit organizations and multi-unit, non-profit residential buildings can also qualify for substantial payments. San Francisco incentive payments will not be more than the net cost of a solar installation after federal and state incentives.

For Example
In San Francisco, a typical 2.5 kilowatt (kW) residential solar installation would cost about $25,000. Depending on the level of incentive, the cost of this system could be cut in half. Low-income residents could save 60% - 70% and pay between $7,000 and $10,000 for solar power. Businesses and non-profits could save well more than half the cost of their systems. Low-income residents and non-profit, multi-family residences may qualify for more.

Information
To find out more about GoSolarSF and how to apply for the program go to gosolarsf@sfwater.org or call (415) 554-3289. You may also contact a Sun Light & Power representative at (510) 845-2997 or email info@sunlightandpower.com.

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