City Mandate Could Spur 8 MW of New Solar

The Roseville, California’s City Council approved a first-ever program aimed at building 20 percent of all new homes with solar panels and other cost-saving energy efficiency measures. The program, called Blueprint for Energy Efficiency and Solar Technology or BEST Home, will aim to build up to 4,000 solar homes in ten years adding 8 MW of solar power.

“As far as we know, this is California’s first city to consider such a solar homes program,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate for Environment California, a leading advocate for the Million Solar Roofs initiative. “As rising natural gas prices hit home this winter, this is the kind of solution-oriented policy making urgently needed.” The City of Roseville is one of the fastest growing cities in the region expecting to add 20,000 new homes in the next ten years. New development will bring increased energy demands especially during the summer when energy needs peak and pressure to build new power plants is greatest. This is also the time when solar panels generate the most amount of electricity. According to the proposal, a BEST Home would save homeowners more than $100 per year after modest rebates coupled with features such as 1-2 kW photovoltaic systems, efficient air conditioning systems, improvements in insulation, Energy Star appliances, and water heating systems that are both energy and water efficient. In addition, the city and ratepayers of Roseville would benefit from a more diverse energy supply and reduced pressure to build expensive fossil fuel power plants. Last night’s unanimous vote gives Roseville Electric the go ahead to develop the details of the city’s BEST Homes program over the next six months with final adoption targeted for June 2006. Meanwhile, at the state level, the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities such as PG&E but not the municipal utilities such as Roseville Electric, is committed to adopting a Million Solar Roofs rebate program by the end of 2005. If the PUC successfully adopts this statewide rebate program, it would leave two other key provisions — net metering and solar standards for new homes statewide — to be adopted by the state Legislature in 2006.

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