News & Events
Solar included in new Yorba Linda luxury homes
BY KRISTINE GUERRA
July 27, 2010
Luxury homes with solar panels that could save homeowners $50 to $100 in monthly electricity bills are being built in Yorba Linda.
Toll Brothers Inc., in partnership with SunRun Inc. and PetersenDean, is in the early stages of building the homes in Vista del Verde’s The Preserve, a community of 90 houses priced from the upper $600,000s. This is the first time Toll Brothers, which builds projects nationwide, has included solar technology in its newhomes.
Instead of placing the solar panels on top of the roofs, they will be installed among roofing tiles of each new home for aesthetic purposes, Toll Brothers Project Manager Isaac Boyd said. Each solar module, made of 14 silicon solar cells, will replace approximately four roofing tiles, which they resemble.
“We do think this is an exciting new feature and a way to the future,” Toll Brothers Regional President Jim Boyd said. “It really does offer the buyer an opportunity to save money and also support the green initiative in California.”
Sarah Leech, solar project manager for PetersenDean, said more home builders the company works with are including integrated solar panels because of the aesthetic potential, but builders are also starting to see the benefits of rack-mounted panels, which have higher efficiency and higher rebates for homeowners.
SunRun, a San Francisco-based solar energy company that bought the solar panels going into The Preserve, will lease them to homeowners for $42 a month over a 20-year-period, totaling $10,080. Jim Boyd said home buyers won’t have to pay for the panels to be installed.
The cost of installing solar panels in an average home is between $20,000 and $25,000.
“This is a little different because you aren’t making an upfront investment,” Jim Boyd said. “Every month, you’re making a payment, but you’re also saving more than your payment in electricity cost. You don’t have to put money out and wait for it to come back.”
The monthly payment will cover maintenance costs, said Lesley Beatty, director of marketing for SunRun. She said the total amount is lower than what homeowners would otherwise pay in electricity bills for 20 years. Beatty said the solar systems in each house are expected to generate 2.5 kilowatts of power.
“If you translate this power into pounds of CO2 (carbon dioxide) saved, all 90 homes would save about 4 million pounds of CO2 over the 20 years of the agreement,” she said. “This is equivalent to taking about 500 cars off the road.”
When the contract expires, homeowners may choose from three options: buy the system at whatever the fair market value is in 20 years; renew the contract with SunRun; or have the panels removed, Beatty said. SunRun will receive a 30 percent federal tax credit for purchasing the solar panels. Fremont-based PetersenDean will install the solar panels during the last stage of construction, which began in May.
Jim Boyd said Toll Brothers is hoping to finish construction of all 90 homes in two or three years. The first model home is expected to be done in September. Sixteen have already been sold.
“What our buyers will find with this solar panel initiative is that winter months’ energy bills are going to be very, very low,” he said, adding that having solar panels would be more cost-effective for people who use air conditioning often during the summer.
A total of 124 homes in Yorba Linda have gone solar since 2007, according to data from the California Solar Initiative. SunRun ranked Yorba Linda third among Orange County cities based on the number of solar homes added from January to May 2010. Santa Ana and Huntington Beach ranked first and second, respectively.