SFPUC gives blessing to solar incentives 

The heavens will power Grace Cathedral — with help from The City — if supervisors vote to bankroll solar-panel installations, according to an environmental and religious leader who joined others Tuesday in endorsing the program.

The City’s public utilities commissioners Tuesday unanimously endorsed the proposed solar incentive program, announced last month by Mayor Gavin Newsom. If approved by the Board of Supervisors, the program will provide grants of up to $10,000 per building to help meet solar-panel installation costs.

"We’ll be taking advantage of it," the Rev. Sally Bingham, environment chair of the diocese of California and president of California Interfaith Power and Light, told commissioners before their vote. "We are looking right now at putting solar on our Grace Cathedral roof at the top of Nob Hill."

Homeowners in the Bayview- Hunters Point, Potrero Hill and Dogpatch neighborhoods will be eligible for up to $5,000 in assistance under the solar incentive program because they are in environmental justice districts, according to SFPUC Assistant General Manager for Power Barbara Hale.

Other city homeowners will be eligible for up to $3,000, according to Hale, or up to $4,000 if they hire a local company. Businesses will be eligible for up to $10,000.

The SFPUC will begin accepting applications for the $3 million program on a first-come, first-served basis after the program is approved by the Board of Supervisors, according to Hale.

She said she expects supervisors in February to approve the program, which will be funded largely with money from hydroelectric power sales.

Supervisors are also considering providing interest-free solar installation loans to property owners, which would be repaid using money saved on future power bills, according to SFPUC spokesman Tony Winnicker.

Utility chief fails to show due to recent injury

Susan Leal, the general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, was a no-show Tuesday at the first commission meeting held since Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that he wanted another city official, City Controller Ed Harrington, to take over her job.

Leal did not attend the meeting because she was still recovering from being struck by a car three weeks ago as she crossed the street in front of City Hall, according to SFPUC spokesman Tony Winnicker.

On Friday, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced 27 staff changes, including the replacement of Leal as head of the SFPUC. Its commissioners, all of whom were appointed or reappointed by Newsom, must vote to endorse the change.

The accident did not break any of Leal’s bones or damage any of her internal organs, according to acting general manager Tony Irons.

jupton@examiner.com

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