This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 22, 2007

Solar Housing Developments Gain Momentum in Northern California

California has long been a leader in solar power installations, but recently the northern part of the state has gained momentum as a leader in solar housing developments. In July, a community in Rocklin, California, located northeast of Sacramento, was the first community to be approved by the State of California under its New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP). As part of the California Solar Initiative, the NSHP provides significant rebates for homes that feature solar electric systems, include Energy Star appliances, and exceed the state's energy efficiency standards by at least 15%. With some help from utility rebate programs, the NSHP also encourages homes to be built 35% to 40% more efficient than the state's energy efficiency standards. At Rocklin's Wisteria community, built by Christopherson Homes, a 2.3-kilowatt solar power system will be integrated into the roof of each of the 30 remaining homes as part of their purchase price. That system will be installed by the Solar Solutions division of Old Country Roofing (OCR), the largest roofing contractor in northern California. See the OCR press release (PDF 123 KB) and the NSHP Web page. Download Adobe Reader.

OCR is also involved in two other solar housing projects in Gilroy and Brentwood. In Gilroy, OCR is working on 20 solar homes in two communities, each of which will include a solar power system with a peak capacity of 1.8 to 2.0 kilowatts. The homes are expected to be completed by the end of the year. In Brentwood, OCR is incorporating solar power systems into 455 single-family homes that are being built by Pinn Brothers Fine Homes. Pinn Brothers is adopting an aggressive strategy to incorporate solar energy into its standard building practices. The Brentwood homes also exceed California's efficiency standards through the use of high-efficiency windows, ample insulation, tankless water heaters, and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. See the OCR press releases on the projects in Gilroy (PDF 89 KB) and Brentwood (PDF 87 KB).

Solar homes are also gaining ground in the Sacramento area and in Vacaville. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) signed agreements in August with two builders that will build a total of 462 solar-powered, super energy-efficient homes in the Sacramento area. Earlier this year, SMUD signed similar agreements with two other builders for the construction of 1,383 solar homes. And in Vacaville, located about 40 miles southwest of Sacramento, SunPower Corporation has installed 2.3-kilowatt solar power systems on 45 homes in Meritage Homes' Encore Community. The Encore homes are also extremely efficient, exceeding the requirements of the New Solar Homes Partnership. See the press releases from SMUD (PDF 33 KB) and SunPower.