Offering more power output in lower-cost homes, Beazer hopes to make PV even more accessible. By BUILDER Magazine Staff

"We're just starting our first [solar] subdivision," notes Alan Neuman, vice president of sales for Beazer Homes' Northern California division. "It's a community call Roseview, in Antelope--that's part of Sacramento."

The first homes to be offered will begin in the $150,000 range, some of the lowest-priced models in the area. Amazingly, even at that price, they will include complete 3.2kW SunSlate solar roofs.

"We couldn't do it without the SMUD buydown," notes Neuman, "but we feel it's the right thing to do."

When Beazer first attended a SMUD workshop, recalls Mike Keesee, Beazer president and CEO Ian McCarthy was very intrigued. "He said, 'This is great. We need to do it.' Now they're interested in taking it nationwide--and they're the first who are working to develop a house that is a net producer. If anybody can do it, it's them. They're brilliant at placing product."

Indeed, Beazer has done what nobody else in Sacramento seems able (or willing) to emulate, offering a smaller house--between 1,043 and 1,474 square feet--at a lower cost.

That risk taking is calculated, and it pays off, notes Neuman. "We build our houses a little smaller, and we build them fast. That's how we keep the costs down."

Even without the PV features, Beazer's homes sell quickly. The first 40 sold in four weeks. Soon, Beazer will begin to spec the souped up PV models.

"We looked at power usage in the area, and we just decided that for the minimal extra cost, the 3.2kW system made sense," Neuman explains. "That's calculated so that homeowners can wipe out their electric bill completely and sell power back to the utility.

"Then, if you do the math," he adds, "it works out so that anything you're paying out in additional mortgage costs is compensated by the money you're getting back from the utility." Looking at the bigger picture, Neuman observes that "if every new home in California had this system on it, you'd be providing as much electricity as if you were building a new power plant each year. We wouldn't have any energy problems."

Where's the Green?

Global Energy Systems Sold, 1993 to 1999

Global Sales (in millions) 1993 1995 1997 1999
Photovoltaic Systems $800 $1,200 $1,500 $1,800
Solar Thermal $400 $300 $400 $300
Geothermal $1,000 $1,800 $1,500 $1,600
Wind Power $800 $1,500 $2,000 $2,600
Biomass (not wood) $500 $600 $700 $800
DSM Services $400 $200 $300 $300
Total $3,900 $5,600 $6,400 $7,400

Source: Environmental Business Journal Product: Powerhouse; Current test market: 2 subdivisions; Location: Sacramento, Calif. area; Total standard PV units: 50 (minimum); Home prices: $150,000 to $240,000; PV system output: 3.2kW (400 square feet roof area); Cost to homeowner: Under $12,000; PV panel manufacturer: Atlantis Energy Systems