Photovoltaic Solar Panels Have Come to San Franciscos Public Housing Projects

That big residential solar project in the Lower Haight / Western Addition / Hayes Valley from SunWheel Energy Partners just went live. The juice, she  is flowing.

See all the deets in this 15 minute video – it’s just like being there.

San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil “The Thrill” Ting was there for the ribbon-cutting…

…as was District 5 Supervisor Ross “The Boss” Mirkarimi:

San Francisco Affordable Housing Sites Power On Solar Energy
Federal, State and Local Officials, Site Residents and Community Members Celebrate Green Energy and New Jobs at Western Addition Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
San Francisco, CA, January 26, 2010 – On Monday, January 25, 2010, Sunwheel Energy Partners, which provides turnkey solar energy systems for urban and community partners, celebrated the commissioning of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at three affordable housing community sites in San Francisco’s Western Addition and Hayes Valley neighborhoods — bringing solar power, green jobs and financial relief to residents and owners.  The ribbon cutting ceremony at Plaza East Apartments was widely attended by a notable group of federal, state and local officials as well as the site’s residents and community members who were hired to install the solar panels.
Dignitaries in attendance included Henry Alvarez, Executive Director, San Francisco Housing Authority; Timothy Alan Simon, CPUC Commissioner; Phil Ting, SF Assessor-Recorder; David Rubin, Director of Service Analysis, PG&E; Michael Carlin, SFPUC Deputy General Manager; Neola Gans, Vice President, SF Housing Authority Commission; Caroline Krewson, Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Stephen Schneller, Director, San Francisco Office of Public Housing; Ross Mirkarimi, San Francisco Supervisor; and representatives of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s offices. Senator Mark Leno issued a proclamation commending the site.

Even more deets, after the jump

Sunwheel Energizes Urban California

The luminaries praised Sunwheel Energy Partners’ efforts to bring solar power to affordable housing in San Francisco. In total, Sunwheel’s California solar projects will generate over 2.3 million kWhs of clean, renewable electricity annually, eliminating nearly two million pounds of CO2 emissions each year and lowering the cost of electricity for the 1,500 families living in the sites’ communities.
“We believe in bringing renewable energy to affordable housing here in San Francisco and around the country, not just for energy sustainability, but to bring real economic benefits and jobs to families,” said Jonathan Goldstein, President and Founder of Sunwheel.
“This is a great accomplishment.  You are moving into the distributed generation arena in which the green movement is led by the people, not just by corporations and not just by Wall Street. Everyone is putting a brick in the temple of reducing climate change for a greener, brighter future,” said Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon of the California Public Utilities Commission. “Young people who worked on this project, I hope this inspires you to look at the careers that are available to you in so many areas of clean technology. This state needs you, and we are working together to ensure that these utilities provide you with the jobs you deserve.”
“When we first started talking about solar in San Francisco, there were a lot of mega-words, but not a lot of mega-watts,” said Phil Ting, SF Assessor-Recorder. “This project shows what can happen when the federal government, housing authority, public utilities commission and tax credits work together with state and city government. Creating jobs is especially hard in this economy, and the fact that this project employed people from this neighborhood with 14,000 work-hours cannot be understated. It changes lives.”
Green Jobs in Underserved Communities
The audience gave a rousing applause for the dozens of green jobs generated, highlighting the 33 local jobs created by Sunwheel in partnership with Real Goods Solar, the projects’ solar integrator, local jobs programs such as SF City Build, the site owner, McCormack Baron Salazar, as well as the San Francisco Housing Authority.
“I want to thank the residents of Hayes Valley North and South and Plaza East for coming together to transcend any invisible turf lines and put into action those mega-words. It is uplifting to see the electricity generated by the spirited drive of people motivating themselves to implement an innovative idea we’ve heard on the national stage and put to work on a street level,” said San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.  “You decide for yourself if this is attributable or not — the crime rates in this area, centered around these sites, went precipitously down at the same time when we dedicated job and job training programs to the area.”
Previously unemployed residents spoke about receiving on-the-job training and experience in green economy jobs, bringing pride and numerous other benefits to their communities. 
“This was my first job, my first paycheck; I didn’t even know how to fill out my time card. It was great to just get up in the morning and work hard on something for our community,” said Tyrone Mullins, Hayes Valley North resident and solar installer.  “I just turned 25. Where we’re from people don’t make it to that age. I’m just grateful for this opportunity to work.”
“This project demonstrates the diversity of San Francisco, the diversity of power we want to have and the diversity of people solar is available to,” said Michael Carlin, SFPUC Deputy General Manager. “We have to thank Mayor Newsom for his GoSolarSF initiative, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting for leading the solar task force and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi for getting affordable housing on the menu of where solar should go.”
Local, State and Federal Programs Enable Solar Energy for Affordable Housing
The solar installations at these three sites were developed by Sunwheel Energy Partners and enabled by the California Solar Initiative’s MASH (Multi-family Affordable Solar Housing) program, GoSolarSF, and the federal New Markets Tax Credits and solar Investment Tax Credit programs. These projects implemented California’s new Virtual Net Metering tariff, allowing the electricity and cost savings to be shared with resident families.
“We’ve participated in dozens of ribbon cutting ceremonies like this, but this one is unique for three reasons,” said David Rubin, Director of Service Analysis, PG&E. “It is among the first under the innovative MASH program; it is the first under Virtual Net Metering, which provides direct benefits to the tenants; and it is the first to create local jobs in the community for the residents themselves.”
About Sunwheel Energy Partners
Sunwheel Energy Partners provides turnkey solar energy systems for urban and community partners. Founded by members of the urban revitalization firm McCormack Baron Salazar, the company’s renewable energy solutions offer clean, sustainable power, financial relief and green jobs to mixed-income/affordable housing, government institutions and businesses nationwide. By combining green practices with jobs creation and real economic impact, the company aims to drive both near- and long-term economic growth in disinvested neighborhoods.  For more information, please visit www.sunwheelenergy.comor contact Mike Steinbaum at
About Real Goods Solar
Real Goods Solar is a leading solar energy integrator, having installed over 5,000 solar electric systems for both residential and commercial properties. Real Goods Solar offers turnkey solar energy solutions, and has 30 years of experience in solar energy, beginning with its sale of the first solar photovoltaic panels in the United States in 1978. With offices in San Rafael, Richmond, Campbell, Fresno, Santa Cruz, Murrieta, and Hopland, California, as well as in Boulder, Colorado, Real Goods Solar is one of the largest residential solar installers in the United States. For more information, go to or call 1-888-507-2561.
About McCormack Baron Salazar
McCormack Baron Salazar is the nation’s leading for-profit developer of economically integrated urban neighborhoods, developing over $2 billion in urban investments in 33 cities around the country.  MBS focuses on developing new and historic housing, retail and commercial assets for neighborhoods, and is itself a recipient of a New Markets Tax Credits allocation.

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