Solar Panels

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With the decision of the city council to have Catellus and Lennar work in tandem on developing Alameda Point, the developers have a great opportunity to incorporate some green building techniques. As the Chronicle points out, Lennar already includes solar power as a standard feature in some of their new subdivisions.

The largest developer of residential properties in the East Bay, Lennar Bay Area Homebuilding, recently completed the first community of new homes in the Bay Area built with a roof-integrated solar electric system. Located in Danville, the 77 homes range in size from 3,673 to 4,243 square feet and are priced at about $1.3 million. The company is building an additional 250 homes equipped with solar power systems, priced at $900,000, in San Ramon.

Apart from making a design statement, the payoff can be significant and not just in monetary terms.

When compared with electricity produced by fossil fuels, each kilowatt of solar-produced electricity offsets up to 830 pounds of nitrogen oxides, 1,500 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 217,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

The cost of a system for an average home is about $29,000. Subtract about $7,000 for the state rebate, which is currently based on how much electricity the system is capable of producing. Subtract an additional $2,000 for the federal tax credit, and the cost is reduced to $20,000. Over the 25- to 30-year life span of the system, the homeowner will save — based on current electrical rates and a conservative estimate of a 6 percent annual inflation rate for future costs — about $60,000 in electricity. After subtracting the system’s cost, the bottom line is $40,000 in savings.

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