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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Union Rules Shut Down Solar Farm Construction

Posted By on Wed, Jun 16, 2010 at 8:38 AM

click to enlarge No work today - RECURRENT ENERGY
  • Recurrent Energy
  • No work today
In the rock-paper-scissors game of progressive political causes, union work rules beat renewable energy AND local hiring mandates, reports The Examiner today. Construction on the behind-schedule, massive Sunset Reservoir Solar Project was halted this week after laborers showed up on-site to demand promised jobs.

Politicians promised that if the private-public-power-purchase agreement -- meaning they build it, we buy it -- were approved that it would hire locally, and hire from low-income neighborhoods. However, there wasn't enough work on the project to quite satisfy both union members half-starved for work as well as untrained labor from SF neighborhoods.

The Sunset Reservoir project, designed by Recurrent Energy, contracted out to Bass Electric and ultimately the property of the people of San Francisco -- once we buy the electricity from Recurrent for a couple of decades -- is to be one of the state's largest solar farms and one of the biggest municipal solar farms in the country. Construction was supposed to finish sometime this spring with the project turned on later in the year; deadlines are now completely screwed with work halted.

The Examiner appears to be the only media currently on this story. Our friends there report:

Under conditions imposed by city leaders, 21 local laborers from

disadvantaged neighborhoods are supposed to be working on the project,

but only nine were at the site Monday. The laborers are trained by The


The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, on the

other hand, places its members on jobs from anywhere in the region.


organizer Aboriginal Blackmen United, a Bayview district group that

placed laborers on the project, plans a similar action today, according

to founder James Richards.

"Unless we work, nobody works," he


The Snitch can't guess at what kind of compromise city leaders can find amongst workers: they made a promise they can't keep. It's going to be ugly, and it's going to delay the turn-on of renewable energy. Lose-lose.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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