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SFPUC’s New Solar Inverter Program Provides Equitable Access to Clean Energy

A man stands by a solar array.
  • Donald Pollitt

San Francisco has often been ahead of its time. In 2008, the City recognized that rooftop solar power could play a role in advancing San Francisco’s ambitious clean energy goals, and the GoSolarSF program was born.

Over the past 15 years, GoSolarSF has distributed nearly $30 million and incentivized the construction of close to 6,000 solar installations that have helped residents, businesses, non-profits, and many customers with low incomes throughout San Francisco save on their electricity bills while helping San Francisco reduce its carbon footprint. Managed by the San Francisco Public Utilities (SFPUC), GoSolarSF serves both Hetch Hetchy Power and CleanPowerSF customers across San Francisco.

While solar technology has matured and improved greatly since 2008, a critical piece of solar infrastructure known as the “inverter” has been prone to needing repair or replacement long before the expected 25 to 30+ year life of the solar panels themselves. However, the high cost to replace an inverter presents barriers for many rooftop solar owners with low-incomes.

To address this cost-barrier, the SFPUC launched a Solar Inverter Replacement program as part of GoSolarSF. The program helps qualifying customers and households maintain their GoSolarSF solar installation by providing rebates for system inspections, inverter replacements, and repairs.

Since launching in August 2021, the program has already successfully enrolled 85 households with low incomes in need of solar repairs and upgrades. The program ensures that SFPUC power customers can continue to see lower electricity bills as a benefit of their solar systems, while also helping San Francisco realize its 100% renewable electricity goal.

As the City’s local clean electricity provider, the SFPUC is committed to ensuring equitable access to clean energy for communities across San Francisco. Low-income households continue to face disproportionally high energy burdens. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), on average, low-income households spend 8.1% of their income on energy costs compared to 2.3% for non-low-income households. The Solar Inverter Replacement program is helping to address this energy cost disparity so that the economic and environmental benefits of rooftop solar continue to reach San Franciscans who need it most.

To learn more about the Low-Income Solar Inverter program, visit: www.cleanpowersf.org/solarinverter.