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

July 10, 2002

Solar Power to be Standard in Two California Communities; Pennsylvania Homeowners Gain New Incentives

AstroPower, Inc. and Clarum Homes announced on June 24th a new agreement that will make solar electric systems a standard feature on homes in two northern California communities. AstroPower will provide 277 solar electric systems over the next three years for homes in the new Clarum communities of Vista Montana in Watsonville and Shorebreeze IV in East Palo Alto. The systems will be a standard feature on every home and will range from 1.2 to 3.2 kilowatts in generating capacity. Clarum will also include energy efficiency features in the new homes that, combined with the solar electric system, should reduce energy use in the homes by 60 percent relative to comparable homes in the area. See the AstroPower press release.

Homes in southeastern Pennsylvania may feature a growing number of solar electric installations through an incentive program launched last month by the Energy Cooperative. The Philadelphia-based company is offering to pay consumers 20 cents per kilowatt-hour for power produced by solar electric systems installed on their homes. The Cooperative's goal is to purchase 100,000 kilowatt-hours of solar power by the end of this year. To take advantage of the program, customers must be members of the Energy Cooperative and must purchase the Co-op's "EcoChoice 100" brand of 100 percent renewable energy. The system must meet specific criteria and must include a separate meter to measure its output. The Energy Cooperative has already signed its first purchase agreement with customer Andy Rudin of Melrose Park, who installed a 2.7-kilowatt system. See the Energy Cooperative press release.

Are you considering installing a solar power system on your home? A recent DOE-funded report examines the economics of such installations on a state-by-state basis, taking into account each state's typical electricity costs, incentive programs, and solar resources. In the top-rated state, New York, the solar power system can cost as much as $13,556 per kilowatt of capacity and still pay for itself over its expected lifetime. In the lowest-ranked state, Kentucky, the system cost needs to drop to $1,200 per kilowatt if you ever want it to pay for itself. See the report, "Customer-Sited Photovoltaics: State Market Analysis" on the Interstate Renewable Energy Council Web site.