Burlingame wants to go solar 

A group of residents wants their city to follow in the success of other Peninsula communities such as San Carlos and Foster City by offering citizens cheaper solar panel installations.

Residents, led by the Sierra Club, an environmental organization, want Burlingame to consider partnering with SolarCity, a provider of solar energy systems that gives substantial discounts on solar panels for homes and businesses as long as 20 people sign up.

The solar panel idea is one of many that residents and city staff members will present during a Wednesday meeting of the city’s Green Ribbon Task Force.

Recently, Foster City-based SolarCity netted 18 San Carlos homeowners who applied to install solar power systems. Residents who install such systems will get a 15 to 20 percent discount, and potentially help reduce the city’s electricity usage by 63 kilowatts.

"It’s basically a way of making it more cost-efficient and straightforward for citizens to install solar panels," said Burlingame resident Dave Pine. "Installing solar panels and doing everything we can on a local basis to reduce our carbon emissions is a good thing to help combat global warming."

"To me, the solar panels are one little piece of a bigger thing that we should be proposing to Burlingame’s Green Ribbon Task Force," said longtime Burlingame resident Mike McCord. "We can make something like this happen."

City officials say they’re not exactly new to the green movement and would support the solar panel installations and other environmentally friendly ideas. The city has already reduced solar panel installation permits from $1,022 to $309 and wants to have a complete plan for reducing carbon emissions within a year.

"That is one of many good suggestions I have heard for projects we might decide to tackle," said Mayor Terry Nagel. "In my mind there are dozens and dozens of projects we could do. The biggest challenge of the whole green movement is the fact that there are just so many players getting into the game."

That game could include future projects like improved recycling, the use of hybrid city vehicles, increased public transportation and higher building standards.

"The solar panels would set an example of things that we can do to lower our overall energy use," said Burlingame resident Michael Barber.

Solar City is also running solar panel campaigns in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Berkeley, Rockridge and in Palo Alto.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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