A Habitat for Humanity home built by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Premier Homes and a consortium of solar trade companies, will be on display at the California State Fair through September 2.Sacramento, California – August 27, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] “As solar power becomes more practical and affordable, it also becomes more mainstream,” said Paul Bender, SMUD’s acting manager of energy production. “Following last year’s power crunch, we saw demand for solar power installations increase substantially over what it was the year before.” The solar panels on the Habitat project incorporate a new installation design that is flush with the surface of the roof’s concrete tiles. They appear less obtrusive than older style panels, making the roof more aesthetically pleasing. Typically, solar panels are mounted on top of the roof. For this reason, new homebuilders have sometimes objected to the installation of solar panels because they believe they negatively impact the marketability of their homes. Habitat for Humanity hopes that the lower cost of the new design could mean that net-metered PV systems will start appearing on more Habitat for Humanity homes in the future. “This makes so much sense – affordable power for people who have trouble affording the basics is a win-win situation,” said George Papotto, director of construction services for Habitat for Humanity. “We hope this is the first of many more.” The solar array atop the Habitat house is just one of three solar applications fairgoers can see at the fair. Last spring SMUD helped fund the installation of a 390 kW solar array atop Cal Expo’s 26 horse barns that provides power for the fairgrounds. Cal Expo, a year round venue hosting the fair, owns the system, which provides US$85,000 savings on Cal Expo’s US$1.5 million annual electric bill. SMUD advised Cal Expo on the project and designed the array. SMUD also installed the “Solarport” solar parking lot shade structure that produces 540 kW of electricity while keeping parked cars cooler. SMUD owns the structure, which is the largest such structure in the world, with the power generated by it fed into SMUD’s power grid. The two projects at Cal Expo add up to nearly 1 MW of solar-generated electricity, about 10 percent of all solar-generated power in the region.