Renewable Energy . . . Still a Dream for SF

San Fransisco, a leader in sustainable city development, commissioned a Solar Energy Project five years ago. The idea simply was a public-private partnership (PPP), where the private player (Recurrent Energy) would finance, construct, own, operate and maintain a solar PV plant on rooftops of public buildings. The public entity (SF City) would buy the energy generated, thereby producing a pool of green energy units available to the consumers. After 7 years or at 15 years, the City would buy the project at fair market value or $33 million, whichever is greater. The solar PV installations are designed to generate 5MW power, enough to power 1500 homes.

The PPP initiative is amongst the various targets the city of SF has set for itself, which is to generate 50MW of Renewable Energy in the city by 2012. Currently, 7.24 MW of Solar Energy is being generated in SF, with city owned installations amounting to 2MW. The city generates 150MW hydro power, which is, of course, not a part of the renewable and clean energy goal because of its other environmental impacts.

The project is currently in the limelight as some of the City Members are objecting to the participation of a private entity in this project. It is because of tax incentives offered to private players and the City unable to take the onus of securing initial investment that a private player is crucial in this type of a project. Politics is evidently at play here as suggested by media.. the current GREEN Mayor is the target.

It will be interesting to follow up on this project to see if the PPP and the Renewable Energy works for a city like San Fransisco. If it doesn’t, it will be a big blow to the Green Movement worldwide, where cities, communities and people are yet grappling with the operational and financial hindrances to setting up successful Renewable Energy installations. It it does, SF will move closer to its goal and provide a great case example!

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