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San Diego Region Secures $154 Million
in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds

Financing opportunities will support new
job development and 20 megawatts of new solar power

October 29, 2009

By Rex Graham

Photo of Solar Panels
UC San Diego will be able to use its $15 million of bonding authority to add an estimated 2.9 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity to its existing 1 megawatt PV system. Sustainability at UC San Diego integrates education, research, and application http://sustain.ucsd.edu

The San Diego region has been allocated financing opportunities for 192 solar installation projects for public facilities, which will promote hundreds of new green jobs and increase by more than 40 percent the capacity of locally produced solar energy with an estimated 20 megawatts of additional solar power.  A coalition of San Diego stakeholders, led by CleanTECH San Diego, captured $154 million in allocations for financing renewable energy projects for public facilities under the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) program.  The total allocations to the San Diego region make up 19 percent of the total allocations going to public agencies nationwide.

The Internal Revenue Service received 997 applications requested total allocations of more than $3 billion from state, regional, and local public agencies throughout the nation.  The IRS allocated $800 million to 739 projects for public agencies throughout the nation.

“The $154 million for renewable energy projects marks a major milestone for our region and will make a significant economic, environmental, and social impact.  This clearly demonstrates the successful collaboration within the various business sectors of our region,” said Lisa Bicker, CEO of CleanTECH San Diego.

The $154 million in CREBs allocations for the San Diego region went to a total of 192 projects submitted by San Diego municipalities, school districts, universities, and a water district.  The CREBs program is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) and provides public agencies with an opportunity to issue tax-credit bonds to finance renewable energy projects for public facilities.  The public agencies do not have to pay the interest on the bonds because the bond holders receive a tax credit in lieu of an interest payment.

The San Diego Unified School District received allocations totaling $74 million for 111 projects, which is the largest number of projects to receive allocations for a single public agency in the nation.

“Clean renewable energy is a win-win proposition for our schools; it not only saves dollars we desperately need for educational programs but these projects are also wonderful learning opportunities for our students,” said Bill Kowba, Interim Superintendent.

UC San Diego, which will receive $15 million for 15 renewable energy projects, relied on four students who provided key help in the preparation of the proposals from the San Diego region while taking an engineering course on solar power from Jan Kleissl, a professor in the Jacobs School of Engineering.

The analytical tool created by the students working under Kleissl made it possible for the San Diego partners to perform engineering and economic analyses of cost, energy output, and payback time of solar PV arrays, information considered crucial to the success of the proposals during the federal review process.

“I am incredibly excited about the success that UC San Diego and the other San Diego entities had in this cycle of CREBs applications,” said Karl Olney, a UC San Diego mechanical and aerospace engineering graduate student. “I am glad to have been part of this great achievement that will hopefully push San Diego to be the leader in photovoltaics.”

CleanTECH San Diego formed a coalition of public and private groups to assist public agencies from the San Diego region in applying for CREBs allocations.  The coalition held working sessions to inform public agencies of the financing opportunity and provided direct assistance with completing CREBs applications.  Public agencies 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 LLP; University of California, San Diego; Stone & Youngberg LLC; PE Consulting; the San Diego Foundation; the California Center for Sustainable Energy; Southern Contracting; and MuniBond Solar.   

CREBs Facts

$3 billion in allocations requested nationwide and $800 million in allocations awarded nationwide.

Public agencies located in the State of California won allocations totaling $640 million, which is 80 percent of the total allocations awarded nationwide.

Public agencies in the San Diego region won allocations for 192 projects totaling $154 million, which is 19 percent of the total allocations awarded nationwide.  In the previous application cycle for CREBs allocations in 2007, the San Diego region had an allocation of $1.25 million for a single project.

The San Diego Unified School District won allocations for 111 projects totaling $74 million, which is 9 percent of the total allocations awarded nationwide and which is also the largest total allocation amount for a single public agency nationwide.  For each of these projects, the San Diego Unified School District used a template created by students from the University of California, San Diego to calculate the project site’s solar output, generate the financial forecasts, and complete the CREBs application.

The San Diego Unified School District’s total allocation amount is nearly twice that of the State of New Jersey, which is the second-largest state winner for total allocations going to public agencies in one state.

Allocations in California for Public Agencies

The San Diego region received 24 percent of the total allocations going to public agencies in the State of California.

Only three higher education institutions nationwide won allocations: University of California, San Diego ($15 million); University of California, Berkeley ($4.8 million); and  San Diego State University ($2.4 million)

Allocations in the San Diego Region for Public Agencies

Public Agency

Number of Projects
Receiving Allocations

Total Allocation
for All Projects

City of Chula Vista

34 projects


City of Lemon Grove

2 projects


Fallbrook Public Utility District

1 project


San Diego State University

1 project


San Diego Unified School District

111 projects


San Dieguito Union High School District

6 projects


City of Santee

7 projects


Santee School District

15 projects


University of California, San Diego

15 projects


Total for San Diego Region

192 projects



Media Contact:
Rex Graham, 858-534-5952, cell: 858-232-2706 or ragraham@ucsd.edu

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