Production builder offers solar power standard in Texas
Photo via Lennar
Due to changes in utility regulations, Lennar began offering solar power as a standard feature in an affordable home development in Austin.
Lennar in October opened the city's first solar-standard community made possible by recent changes in utility regulations – demonstrating that environmental sustainability and new-home affordability can go hand-in-hand.
Texas Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and Austin Energy Vice President of Customer Energy Solutions Deborah Kimberly joined local and national Lennar and SunStreet executives to cut a green ribbon at a ceremony welcoming guests to the solar-powered model homes at Colorado Crossing southeast of downtown Austin.
"This community marks a significant milestone for Austin with homes that meet two vital needs – affordability and sustainability," said David Kaiserman, CEO of SunStreet Energy Group, the Lennar subsidiary that works with local installers, and monitors and maintains the rooftop solar systems on every new home in the community. "These homes are an example of the great things that can happen when good policy encourages creative businesses to use advanced technology in ways that have real and lasting benefits both for individual buyers and society as a whole."
Colorado Crossing, where single-family home prices start below $200,000, is Austin's first new-home community to include SunStreet's state-of-the-art solar power systems as a standard feature that, under the SunStreet Solar Lease, adds nothing to the price of the home.
Homeowners pay a low, flat monthly fee for a system that generates more than half of their anticipated electricity needs. The innovative SunStreet program is made possible by recent changes in Austin Energy's regulations that aim to increase the share of renewable energy procured by the city-owned utility to 55% by 2025, including at least 100 MW of customer-sited local solar.
"It should never cost more to be green," said Rep. Rodriguez, who pushed for statutory changes that make rooftop solar a more affordable option to many homeowners. "By having SunStreet incorporate solar right into the home from the outset, Lennar is making it easy to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It's a no-brainer."
With more than 100 communities in development nationwide, Lennar's unique SunStreet solar offering makes clean, safe renewable energy an integral feature of every new home. The SunStreet offering uniquely positions Lennar to dramatically expand the adoption of solar. The first phase of new solar homes at Colorado Crossing will include 120 homes.
"It's clear that to achieve the ambitious goals Austin Energy has set for itself, we must significantly increase the number of rooftops generating power from the sun," said Austin Energy's Kimberly. "Communities like this with solar integrated into the design from day one allow us to make faster progress toward those goals in ways that allow us to plan infrastructure and protect the overall stability of the electric grid."
The technology deployed by SunStreet is fully networked to give homeowners and utility managers alike the unprecedented ability to monitor power production on a panel-by-panel basis. One of the big benefits of integrating solar into construction is that it can be worry free and less noticeable.
"Our belief is that sustainable living need not mean compromising aesthetics, affordability or comfort," said David Grove, president of Lennar's Austin division. "Integrating the SunStreet solar program allows us to provide a unique product at lower cost to our buyers. And because the system carries a limited 20-year warranty, buyers do not have to worry about maintenance or repairs. It's a big win all around."
Read more about home solar power.