Financing and building solar powered homes
Two linked pieces of news come from the Bay area that give a hint of what is to come: More developers integrating renewable energies in their housing developments and possibly finding a bank willing to finance them.
New Resource Bank, San Francisco, has launched a program to offer financial incentives for green building projects. It will initially rely on design criteria established by the US Green Building Council. However, the bank is open to alternative approaches to demonstrate green design.
Associated Content and the Mercury news report about a high-end all-solar housing community in the Bay area. It is only the first of four projects along the same lines by Lennar, one of the nation´s biggest home builders and SunPower, that provides the solar equipment.
The houses will incorporate solar panels on the roof and an interactive digital electrical system which allows them to visually monitor their monthly power usage.
Both companies are involved with the New Solar Homes Partnership, part of California’s Solar Initiative to install 400 megawatts of solar power in the next decade. To promote solar energy, the California Energy Commission offers incentives of $2.60 a watt for systems on new homes. Homeowners will receive a one-time 2,000 dollar federal tax credit for having this solar energy system installed in their homes.
For an individual, these 2.3 kilowatt systems would cost around 20,000 dollars, but the builders are able to get them from an estimate from 12,000 to 15,000 dollars
Whenever the homeowners create more power than what they use, the local utility, Pacific Gas & Electric company, will give them a credit in their bill that can be used when the solar panels are not creating energy, for instance, at night.
Let´s just hope that things start moving downmarket fast, as with PC´s and laptops, because the price tag on these houses is still just a liiiittle steep for our middle class means (1.3 to 1.5 million bucks).