California to build world’s biggest solar powered community

With California under threat of ongoing power cuts, a solar electric-powered housing community to be built near Sacramento, seems like a good idea. The planned Bickford Ranch community will contain 1000 solar powered homes making it the world’s largest community of single-family grid connected solar powered homes.

The contract to supply the necessary solar electric home power systems was awarded last week to independent manufacturer, AstroPower, based in Newark, Delaware by developers US Homes, a division of Lennar Corporation.

Situated on 1954 acres near Sacramento, Bickford Ranch will include 1880 single-family homes, 60 acres of public parks, and 27 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. More than 58 per cent of the land will be preserved as recreational and natural open space. In addition, about half of the homes in the community are age-qualified, meaning that the homeowners will be at least 55 years of age.

“The magnitude of the installation sends an important signal to California and to the rest of the world regarding the growing importance of solar electric home power and an individual’s ability to take control over his own electricity generation.” said Bob Johnson, vice president and director, Photovoltaic Services at Strategies Unlimited, an independent market research firm. “This agreement is a significant advance for the solar industry,”

Brian Bombeck, President of US Home’s Sacramento Land Division said, “By choosing to offer solar power, we’re enabling our customers to conserve energy as they produce their own electricity on site. With the ever-increasing cost of electricity and the unreliability of the utility grid, there’s value in solar power that we could not have left untapped.”

US Home will offer its homebuyers AstroPower’s SunUPS solar electric home power system with battery backup. This provides homeowners with uninterrupted power even during utility outages. Alternatively, homeowners can choose AstroPower’s SunLine system, which offers the same packaged components of the SunUPS system without the continuous power option.

Both the SunUPS and SunLine systems are fully packaged systems. “With all the necessary components for installation and operation, the systems integrate seamlessly into the construction process,” said Bob Ruggio, AstroPower’s manager for residential sales. “That leads to terrific economies of scale for the builder as well as substantial cost savings for the homeowner.”

Howard Wenger, AstroPower’s vice president at Premium Power said, “The bottom line is that solar power at Bickford Ranch will be more affordable than today’s utility grid power, thanks to streamlined costs realized in new construction, built-in financing, and a California incentive rebate that cuts the installed cost in half. Not only that, these residents will send power back to the electricity grid, literally spinning their utility meters backward, while lowering their electric bills. US Home has just brought a healthy dose of good news in the wake of the California energy crisis.”

“The impacts of the Bickford Ranch installation will undoubtedly be recognized throughout the solar power industry as well as the building market,” said Dr. Allen Barnett, president and CEO of AstroPower. “There are no installations like it in the world today. One thousand homeowners in one single-family home community will reap the benefits of solar electric power. This provides further evidence that solar electric power is becoming mainstream.”

Nasdaq quoted AstroPower, is the world’s largest independent manufacturer of solar electric power products. The company develops, manufactures, markets and sells PV solar cells, modules, panels and systems for generating solar electric power which can provide a clean, renewable source of electricity in both off-grid and on-grid applications.

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