Image credit: SF Citizen
Although Kristin may have written about the first 100% solar-powered affordable housing project in San Diego, and there was some debate whether these prefab solar homes in Chicago were fairly priced, in general the terms "solar" and "affordable" don't (yet) sit well together in the public imagination. But Sunwheel Energy Partners has just completed a major installation of solar photovoltaics on affordable housing units in San Francisco. And crucially, they hired local residents to do the work. The initiative was part of San Francisco's GoSolarSF initiative launched by Mayor Newsom. Sunwheel just completed installation of over 375 kilowatts on three San Francisco affordable housing sites, employing site residents to install the panels, contributing over 14,000 work hours to the community and decreasing crime in the process.
According to the Mayor's office this is all part of a movement that is seeing San Francisco take the lead for solar in California—"San Francisco has 1,350 solar roofs totaling 7,050 mw of solar power, ranking San Francisco third, behind Los Angeles and San Diego, in terms of sheer numbers of solar roofs. But, on a per capita basis, San Francisco has approximately six times more solar roofs than Los Angeles, despite Southern California receiving more sun."
I'm sure there will be those who scoff at public money (in California, of al places) being spent on expensive solar, but with the twin pressures of climate change and peak oil breathing down our necks, I suspect those regions that invest now in energy capacity for the future will find themselves profoundly grateful in the coming years. And if you are going to spend money on renewables, it makes perfect sense to double that investment by channeling it to create affordable, local green collar jobs and training.