Massachusetts Solar Home Initiative Kicks Off

The first new Energy Star Homes development in Massachusetts to incorporate a solar photovoltaic (PV) electric system opened in the Boston suburb of Wrentham this week. The model home opening officially launches Sun Power For New Homes, an initiative partially funded by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC). DiPlacido Development Corporation built the model home in partnership with Conservation Services Group (CSG), using PV panels manufactured by Evergreen Solar.

Wrentham, Massachusetts – October 2, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Located at Wampanoag Estates, the home showcases how PV can be incorporated into new construction, harnessing the sun’s energy for use in the home. Developers said the system works with other energy efficiency measures to reduce electrical consumption, lower energy bills, provide reliable, environmentally responsible power and result in a positive cash flow from day one. “This marks an important milestone for clean, green energy,” said Robert L. Pratt, director of the MTC’s Renewable Energy Trust. “By offering PV technology as a standard feature in a brand new home, DiPlacido is helping to bring renewable energy to the mainstream. As part of our Solar to Market Initiative, other builders will be participating in this process, but DiPlacido is really setting the stage today for more green residential development.” CSG administers the Sun Power For New Homes program by training builders, electricians and technicians on how to install and maintain PV systems. Last fall, CSG won several grants from the MTC, as part of the Solar-to-Market Initiative, the largest public investment in the PV industry in New England. The money will help defray the cost of the panels as well as the installation. In addition to the Wrentham site, CSG is working with residential builders in Townsend and Uxbridge, Massachusetts, to install PV as part of the Sun Power For New Homes program. These projects are scheduled to open in 2004. The PV system on the Wrentham model home is called a 1.3 kW solar electric system. The 12 Evergreen Solar PV panels on the home’s roof are expected to generate 1,250 kWh per year, based on New England’s climate. The 1.3-kW system is expected to save homeowners more than US$150 per year on energy costs (based on a projected 10-year average utility rate of 14 cents ($0.14) per kWh.) DiPlacido is also offering a 2.6 kW solar electric system, expected to generate 2,500 kWh per year, saving homeowners more than $300 per year on electricity costs. Up to 25 homes at Wampanoag Estates will feature these PV systems. According to CSG, the MTC and state tax incentives reduce the cost of the PV systems by 50 to 75 percent, adding only $3,000 to $5,000 to a home’s price. “The ability to integrate PV installation into the home at the time of construction is extremely cost effective,” said John Livermore, Sun Power For New Homes program manager from CSG. “By integrating solar up front, the extra cost can be rolled into the home mortgage.” Livermore also said that the homes at Wampanoag Estates are Energy Star-rated, which means homeowners save up to 30 percent per month on energy costs. When combined with the 20 to 30 percent savings from the PV system, homeowners can expect to pay 50 percent less for electricity every month, said developers. “A collaboration by individuals, community groups and the state’s solar industry to build a PV marketplace in the state will yield greater benefits for less public expenditure,” said Steve Cowell, chief executive officer of CSG. “Our goal is to transform the marketplace and make solar power a more affordable option for everyone.” There are 101 units at Wampanoag Estates that began selling in 2000. Homes are priced from $500,000 to $700,000. Tours of the model home are available this month by appointment only. The public can also visit the model on October 4, when it is featured as part of the Green Homes Tour, sponsored by the New England Sustainable Energy Association and the Energy Star Homes program. “Most importantly, it’s (solar) here and now, not something that is a future technology,” said Mark Farber, president and CEO of Evergreen Solar. “Hundreds of thousands of homes and commercial buildings across the globe use this reliable, renewable energy every single day.”
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