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

October 01, 2003

All-Solar Community in Arizona to Feature 487 Off-Grid Homes

A new housing development near Kingman, Arizona, lacks one feature most developments take for granted: power lines. Every "ranchette" in the 487-home community will be equipped with a 1.65-kilowatt solar power system; when all the homes are built, the community will have a combined solar power capacity of just over 800 kilowatts. The homes use propane to fuel their furnace, refrigerator, and range and oven, and also include electric water heaters that can be upgraded to propane. The GreenWood Ranch Estates held its grand opening in late August. See the Solar Energy Industries Association press release and the GreenWood Web Site.

A model solar home also opened for viewing in Wrentham, Massachusetts, in late September. The new home development is energy efficient—the homes all earned the Energy Star label—and up to 25 of the homes will feature solar power systems. The model home includes a 1.3-kilowatt system manufactured by Evergreen Solar, and a 2.6-kilowatt system is also available. With a combination of state tax incentives and funding from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, homeowners should pay only one-quarter to one-half the cost of the solar power system. See the Evergreen Solar press release.

Buyers of the Wrentham homes also have another way to save on the cost of their solar power systems: they can sell their renewable energy credits to Mainstay Energy. The company is offering one-time payments of $100 per kilowatt for solar power systems and $50 per kilowatt for wind energy systems to homeowners and businesses throughout New England. The system must have been powered up in 1998 or later. See the Mainstay Energy Web site.

Not all communities in the United States are so keen on solar energy, as Akeena Solar, Inc., a solar power company, recently found out. After the company installed a 2.97-kilowatt solar power system on the roof of its office building in Los Gatos, California, it was denied a final approval of its building permit because the solar modules were visible from the street. All rooftop equipment in the city must be screened from view. Not lacking in irony, the company suggested using solar panels to screen the system, but the city failed to find the humor in that proposal. See the Akeena Solar Web site, or read the record of Akeena's appeal before the Los Gatos Town Council on pages 5 to 7 of the August 4th council minutes (PDF 43 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.