Feature Stories


Ana Toepel, Green Impact, June 2018


UCSF Community Gets Green Power with Incentive Programs

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) strives to provide opportunities for its community members to take actions that address climate change impacts and promote a lower carbon lifestyle. To this end, UCSF is an active participant in the Bay Area SunShares program since 2013.

SunShares helps residents overcome challenges to using clean energy by pooling buying power to provide discounts on home solar systems and zero emission vehicles. The program also offers education to help them understand their clean energy options and guides program participants through the purchase process. In 2017 SunShares helped to put solar on 208 more homes in the Bay Area, three of them belonging to UCSF community members.

Another incentive program is a partnership with Nissan that offers a discount on purchases of the 100% electric 2018 LEAF to UCSF employees, staff, students, and retirees. Through September 30, Nissan will provide a generous $3,000 rebate—and with the state and federal tax incentives the total discount comes to $13,000!

UCSF Employees Happily Go Solar with SunShares

Gail Lee, UCSF’s Sustainability Director, says, “Our journey to carbon neutrality includes engaging the UCSF community and providing them resources and incentives for living greener. To date, SunShares has helped hundreds of UCSF faculty, staff, and students explore clean power possibilities.”

One UCSF employee who is switching to solar electricity is Ann Magner, an oncology nurse at UCSF Health. She looked into doing it many years ago, but the cost was prohibitive at that time. She wanted to save money and have a fixed energy cost, as well as reduce her environmental footprint. Information about SunShares in the UCSF newsletter “caught her eye,” and then she learned that the cost of solar installations has come down (6.5% in the last year alone) and that the incentive program would make it even more affordable.

SunShares participants can receive qualified bids from three companies, and for Magner this was a selling point for the program. She is very happy with her choice of PetersenDean, who was helpful throughout the process. They also offer an additional discount for clients over 55, on top of the $2,500 SunShares discount. The process included a site visit that reviewed roof size and exposure, along with utility bills, to determine the ideal installation size for her home. With financing offered through the program, her monthly payments for the system stay the same.

“SunShares has made it doable,” Magner shared, “and it was hard to resist since the program is so well-curated. It felt like it was handed to me on a silver platter.”

Roger Long, MD, an endocrinologist in the Department of Pediatrics, also chose to go through SunShares to put solar on his home in the East Bay. Long was interested in energy independence, the lack of energy bills, and the opportunity to make use of a renewable resource. “The concept of solar made sense to me,” Long expressed.

SunShares connected Long with a local installer, Solar Technologies. Long expects his monthly energy costs will be zero, since the system is designed to match the energy it produces with the energy needed by the home and he is pleased with the entire experience, which took about three months from start to finish.

As an added perk, customers have access to minute-to-minute tracking of how much energy they’re generating. Long shares that it’s a “good feeling” to have solar and that “seeing how his system is performing is fun and good feedback in terms of knowing the investment is worthwhile.”

Nissan LEAF Discount Delivers Benefits

Julie Sutton, UCSF Facilities Program Manager, always wanted an electric car, but affordability was an issue. Then she learned about the incentive program for the LEAF in the UCSF sustainability newsletter.

The LEAF has worked well for Sutton all around. She needed a car with a 120-mile range to cover her daily commute, and the LEAF can go 175 miles per nightly charge. With a simple adapter, she was able to convert an existing 240-plug from an old drier in the garage into a home charging station. The car drives smoothly as well and has many attractive safety features.

With the UCSF discount and tax incentives she was able to get a top of the line electric car for $24,000. “I like the idea of not relying on gas,” Sutton shares, “not only the environmental benefits, but the cost savings.” Public transportation wasn’t feasible for her as a working parent because of the time it would take. She says, “Now my car payment is less than what I was paying in gas.”

Take Advantage of Incentives to Power Your Home or Car Sustainably

You can join your colleagues and experience the benefits of these UCSF incentives:

  • Act now for the Nissan LEAF discount through September 30; find details here.
  • Consider the SunShares program and check here for 2018 registration beginning August 1.
  • Go here to stay informed about all of the current offers—and check back for updates.