In June 2008, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom helped the city achieve a first when he signed a bill recently approved by the Board of Supervisors. Officials are touting the GoSolarSF program as the first-ever and largest solar program of its kind offered by a city in the country.

The 10-year incentive program, coupled with federal tax credits and the California Solar Initiative could pay half the cost or more of a solar power system installed in San Francisco. Any home business in San Francisco that is on a meter and pays an electricity bill is eligible for an incentive payment from the city.

GoSolarSF offers incentives ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 for residents and up to $10,000 for businesses. Low-income residents can qualify for an additional $5,000. The highest residential incentive is reserved for residents or businesses that use an installer that hires graduates of the city’s work force development program. It also provides up to $30,000 for nonprofit affordable housing. For the first year of the program, nonprofit organizations and multiunit, nonprofit residential buildings will be eligible for enhanced, substantial payments. Incentive payments will not be more than the net cost of a solar installation after federal and state incentives.

In San Francisco, a typical 2.5-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 to 70 percent and pay between $7,000 and $10,000 for solar power. Businesses and nonprofits could save well more than half the cost of their systems.