Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

As promised, here is a sneak peek at part of the SMUD-Woodside solar story running in the Saturday paper. It was interesting to learn that right here where we live, people are at the forefront of the growing solar movement.


By Jim Wasserman
jwasserman@sacbee.com
A Utah homebuilder and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District have struck a deal to build 1,487 solar-powered homes in Rancho Cordova and Rancho Murieta by 2012, the parties announced Friday.
The utility calls the agreement with Woodside Homes the largest U.S. solar-home project so far, keeping the capital region at the forefront of efforts to power homes with sunlight.
Sacramento receives about 320 days of sunshine a year.
Thirteen months ago SMUD announced a similar deal with Miami-based Lennar Corp. for 1,254 new homes in Sacramento County. That was then called the largest partnership in the country. Lennar last year also reached agreement with Roseville Electric to build 650 solar homes there.
A Woodside official said the deal is a response to demand.
We have had a steady stream of folks coming to our office asking, Are you solar? said Brian Cuttings, project manager at the Woodside Sacramento division. We see there is a definite segment of the market that says you have got to have solar.
More than 1,000 of the homes are proposed for Rancho Cordova subdivisions at Douglas and Grant Line roads. Another 350 are planned in the its Sunridge Park subdivisions in Rancho Cordova, and 99 more are scheduled to be built in Rancho Murieta.
The agreement is the 10th by SMUD with builders since early 2007. The deals, in which SMUD helps builders pay for the systems, will equip more than 4,153 new homes in Sacramento County with solar power in coming years. To qualify for the program, builders must install energy-efficient extras, such as tighter ducts for air-conditioning units, better insulation and windows and more efficient heating and air-conditioning units.
SMUD funds its subsidies - $5,955 per home in the Woodside case - with a solar surcharge on all customer electric bills.
Builders also receive a $2,000 federal tax credit for adding solar systems to a house. Home buyers, likewise, are eligible for a $2,000 federal tax credit for buying a solar-powered home, said Wade Hughes, manager of the SMUD solar home program.
After tallying financial help from the utility and government, it costs the builder an extra $11,000 to $13,000 to build this kind of home, said Hughes.
With 10 deals for 4,153 homes in place, 30 percent or more of new homes built next year in Sacramento County will have solar systems, he said.

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