SunPower's SunTile solar energy collectors lie flush with the home's roof line.
Buyers of new solar-powered homes could see their energy bills cut in half, builders say

One of the nation's biggest home builders has plans to go solar. Miami-based Lennar Homes said its homebuilding division in San Ramon, California, will install solar panel power systems in all of its new homes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lennar made the announcement during the opening of a new all-solar housing development in the Bay Are suburb of Danville. The "Milano at Monterosso" community is the first of three solar-powered housing projects that Lennar plans to open in the Bay Area this year. Lennar representatives said the company will also construct 650 solar homes in the California town of Roseville, north of Sacramento.

The "standard" solar package for homes in the Danville development is based on a roof-mounted solar electric system from PowerLight, a subsidiary of SunPower Corp. In its promotional video and related materials, SunPower boasts that homeowners will experience savings of 40% to 50% on their energy bills as a result of installing its PowerLight Sun Tile solar energy system. The company also notes that homes such as those in the Milano community employ a variety of energy-saving technologies, as well. These include double-pane windows, high-performance insulation, low-wattage lighting systems and other features.

Lennar and SunPower are participants in the California Energy Commission's New Solar Homes Partnership, a 10-year, $350 million initiative to promote solar power in new residential construction projects. The program is part of a statewide plan to install 400 megawatts of solar power in the next decade. Homebuilders are being offered incentives of $2.60 per watt for systems they install, while home buyer are eligible for a one-time credit of $2,000 off their federal taxes.

Lennar is not the only Bay Area builder emphasizing solar homes. Home builders such as Centex have also integrated solar power into new residential developments there, but Lennar is the first to promise installation of solar systems in all of its new homes in the region. 

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