San Diego Area Applies for $260 M in Stimulus for Solar

Nine San Diego municipalities, schools and water districts on Aug. 5 submitted close to 300 applications for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs). Approval of all the region's applications could finance 160 new solar projects in the next three years, bringing new green jobs and generating over 26 megawatts of solar power.

The CREB program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and provides public agencies with $800 million in low-interest tax credit bonds to install renewable energy projects.

"This regional effort is part of a strong San Diego tradition of collaboration, and by leveraging the resources of our universities, nonprofits and private sector; it will certainly result in substantial economic, environmental, and social benefits to our region," said Lisa Bicker, chief executive officer of CleanTECH San Diego.

CleanTECH San Diego formed a coalition of public and private groups to assist local government in applying for CREBs. The coalition held working sessions to inform municipalities of the financing opportunity and provided direct assistance in completing CREB applications. Municipalities had access to pro bono legal, engineering and financial resources to help them with each step of the application process. Coalition partners include Latham & Watkins, University of California San Diego, Stone & Youngberg, PE Consulting, the San Diego Foundation, the California Center for Sustainable Energy, Southern Contracting and MuniBond Solar.

The cities of Chula Vista, Lemon Grove, Fallbrook and Santee each filed multiple applications along with a number of school districts, water authorities and other public agencies. "This joint effort establishes a vibrant marketplace ready to deploy local clean technology and signals a regional commitment," said Brendon Reed, city of Chula Vista energy manager. "The city of Chula Vista established strong programs over the past few years and the city is committed to sharing its experiences and efforts with the members of this regional coalition."

Already the No. 1 solar region in California with 2,262 solar roofs, San Diego's CREBs initiative could potentially more than double the capacity of locally produced solar energy.

The IRS is expected to award CREB allocations in a matter of months.

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