Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

April 4, 2008
The biggest solar-home agreement yet in U.S. is in Rancho Cordova

We just got this news release from SMUD about plans to build almost 1,500 solar-powered homes in Rancho Cordova. The utiilty is calling its agreement with Utah-based Woodside Homes the largest single solar home deal in the U.S.
I am chasing this for a story in the Saturday paper and will post more online when we get it.

SMUD and Woodside Homes agree to build almost 1,500 solar homes

Deal is largest utility-homebuilder partnership in the nation

Nearly 1,500 solar-powered, super energy-efficient SolarSmart homes will be built in the Sacramento area in an agreement between SMUD and homebuilder Woodside Homes. The deal is the largest to date between any utility and homebuilder in the United States.

In the agreement, the latest SMUD has signed with what is becoming a long list of homebuilders, SMUD provides funding to buy down the cost of solar and energy efficiency equipment in all the homes. The 1,487 homes contracted in the Woodside Homes deal will be built starting this year in subdivisions near Rancho Cordova. They are expected to be completed in 2012.

Residents of these SolarSmart homes may save as much as 60 percent annually on their electric bills through the energy-efficient features and the solar roof tiles that generate electricity. SolarSmart homes also boast many energy efficiency measures to help customers reduce their bills year-round. The energy efficiency measures include efficient HVAC systems, radiant barriers in attics, added insulation, duct sealing and energy-efficient compact fluorescent lighting.

The SMUD customer community also benefits from solar home developments in terms of lower power costs for all customers. SolarSmart homes save and produce the most energy on hot summer days, so less electricity will be needed to serve these homes. That is the same time when power is most expensive for a utility to buy. These new SolarSmart homes are expected to shave about two megawatts off the peak demand.

The homes also deliver environmental benefits. They have a smaller “carbon footprint” than conventional new homes. Carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced. Cumulatively, the 1,487 SolarSmart homes could reduce carbon emissions that are equivalent to taking about 700 cars off the road or planting about 1,000 acres of trees.

The Woodside Homes deal is the tenth agreement SMUD has signed with builders since last year to construct SolarSmart homes. So far, SMUD has agreements in place to build more than 4,000 SolarSmart homes. Next year, more than 30 percent of new homes in SMUD service territory will be SolarSmart.

As a partner, SMUD provides incentives of about $6,000 per home to buy down the cost of the solar electric systems and provides rebates for energy efficiency upgrades. The rebates and incentives, combined with attractive tax credits, make the options more affordable for most homebuyers. And in a slower housing market, builders see the options as a way to offer prospective homebuyers more significant value in the form of lower energy bills and a more “green” home.

SMUD has been a national leader in developing solar technology for more than 20 years. SMUD has helped customers install and own solar electric systems on existing homes. SMUD began partnering with homebuilders to install solar panels during construction in 2001, and prior to 2007, partnered on more than 200 solar-powered homes in the SMUD territory. For more information about SMUD and its solar and other renewable energy programs, visit smud.org.

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