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Filner, Supervisors Announce New Solar Initiative

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and two members of the county Board of Supervisors announced today an initiative to improve energy efficiency in public buildings, and increase the government, commercial and residential use of solar energy.

The city, county and San Diego Unified School District are the first members of what officials call the "Solar Summit,'' and they hope to bring in additional cities in the region, along with more school districts and public agencies like water and fire protection districts.

Filner, along with Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts, said they want to make the city and county governments an example for the public, and find ways to offer incentives to business owners and residents who want to install solar power systems.

Filner said he has met with members of the alternative energy industry for years.

"They believe with us that it's the political vision, and the political will, and the political leadership that's the vital thing that has to be done in our region,'' Filner said.

Technical, financial, legislative and regulatory hurdles can be overcome once the vision is in place, he said.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the county is studying its older buildings for ways to improve efficiency, from use of weather stripping or insulation to replacing light bulbs. New county buildings, including the rebuilt operations center in Kearny Mesa, incorporate solar panels, she said.

"We want to lower the price for businesses, we want to lower the prices for consumers, we want to bring more competition to the marketplace and we want to provide choices of where people can buy their power,'' Jacob said.

Power purchase choices could be the result of "community choice aggregation'' programs, which allow neighborhoods to choose their energy providers, said Jacob, who has battled San Diego Gas & Electric on a myriad of issues in recent years. Aggregation programs are in effect in Northern California, she said.

Filner said the San Diego City Council, Board of Supervisors and San Diego Unified School District Board of Education will be tasked in the near future with developing a common plan of action.

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