North Coast Solar Stocks

May 8, 2009

Schwarzenegger touts solar technology in San Jose

Filed under: none — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 10:56 pm

5/8/2009 10:56:26 PM
By Tracy Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, Calif.

SAN JOSE, CALIF.: Calling Silicon Valley “the most innovative place in the world,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday told an audience of solar technology executives and industry representatives that “we need to find ways to reduce our use of fossil fuel and use what we have in abundance in California — the sun.”

“I’m a big believer in solar technology,” he told about 350 people attending a daylong “solar summit” in San Jose meant to accelerate the state’s solar economy. “We want to make this state the solar state.”

Held at eBay’s North Campus, which boasts the city’s largest commercial solar installation, the event was organized by SolarTech, an initiative of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and by the California Solar Energy Industries Association.

During an hourlong question-and-answer session with Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the leadership group, the governor said he gets a good view of how solar is faring when he soars over rooftops in parts of the state via helicopter.

“There should be no rooftop in California without a solar panel,” he said. “Every rooftop I see without solar panels is a waste of space.”

Schwarzenegger, who is termed out next year, said he hopes voters will elect a successor who believes in renewable energy and “has the same kind of passion I have for solar.”

Schwarzenegger has already played a major role in pushing for solar in California. At his direction in 2006, the California Solar Initiative created a $3.3 billion, 10-year program to put solar panels on 1 million roofs in the state. The program includes state renewable energy incentives and a rebates program.

But he is frustrated by the public’s capricious reception to solar energy, the popularity of which seems to fluctuate with gas prices.

“You’ve got to look ahead 20 to 30 years,” he said. “Every time oil prices go down, we abandon that vision. “… You’ve got to have a plan and stick with that plan.”

The conference focused on developing standards to reduce installation time and costs for solar-power systems.

San Jose’s solar program coordinator, Jessie Denver, said the city has the most solar installations of any large city in Northern California. She also said San Jose has streamlined the solar-permitting process in a way that has become a model for other cities.

But more work remains to be done, she said, including transferring the permitting process online. A pilot program is under way to do just that.

And as more solar installations are added, Denver said, the city also is working with the San Jose Fire Department to help implement building codes that align with statewide fire safety guidelines. The idea is to help firefighters more easily access fires in structures with solar-paneled roofs.

Environmental Defense Fund staff member Miriam Horn, who spoke at the event, applauded both SolarTech and the Solar Energy Industries Association for their efforts.

The groups have “done a lot of important groundwork” for the solar industry, she said, so much so that the rest of the country benefits as a result. “I don’t know what the U.S. would do without California.”

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