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

April 09, 2008

California Utility Inks Deal for Nearly 1,500 Solar Homes

Aerial photo of a housing subdivision featuring at least 19 homes with solar panels on their roofs. The solar panels appear as dark rectangles of various sizes and shapes on the roofs.

SMUD was previously involved in the "Premiere Gardens" subdivision in Rancho Cordova. One hundred homes in the subdivision feature solar panels on their roofs. Enlarge this image.
Credit: SMUD

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has signed an agreement with homebuilder Woodside Homes to help fund the construction of 1,487 energy-efficient solar homes, the largest deal to date between a utility and a homebuilder in the United States. The funding, provided through SMUD's SolarSmart program, will help reduce the added cost of the high-efficiency features and the solar roof tiles, which together can reduce the homes' annual electric bills by as much as 60%. The homes will be located near Rancho Cordova, which is about 10 miles east of Sacramento, California. Construction will begin this year, and the subdivisions are expected to be completed by 2012. According to the SMUD Web site, the utility is already funding 1,383 SolarSmart homes to be built by Lennar and Tim Lewis Communities. See the SMUD press release (PDF 33 KB) and the SolarSmart Web page. Download Adobe Reader.

Meanwhile, another California homebuilder is launching two new home communities in San Jose, featuring solar homes that are also LEED certified. The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is a widely recognized standard for green building. Pinn Brothers Fine Homes is teaming up with OCR Solar & Roofing to install BP Solar roof-integrated solar modules, which emulate the shape of flat concrete roof tiles. The homes will be 35% more efficient than California's strict Title 24 Energy Standards. The new communities, called Orchard Heights and Falcon Place, opened their model homes to the public in mid-March. See the OCR Solar & Roofing press release (PDF 59 KB).