AUSTIN, TEXAS-BASED WILSHIRE HOMES, which hopes to build about 725 homes in the Lone Star State this year, plans to increase consumer awareness of solar power statewide by installing a solar system in two model homes.

Brian Binash, partner and director of Wilshire, says the home builder will include solar power in the model homes by the end of the first quarter of 2008. In one home, the solar panels will be on the roof; the second home will have a solar trellis.

“Solar isn't very popular in Texas. There are no rebates or tax credits the way there are in states like Arizona, California, and Florida,” Binash says.

Binash says the company also wants to use the model homes as a showcase to demonstrate the technology to state and local officials, as well as home buyers and Realtors.

Wilshire is working closely with Houston-based NewPoint Energy Solutions, which will install the solar systems. Brett Sailors, vice president of sales for NewPoint, says a typical system in a 3,000-square-foot home starts at about $15,000 and will save 30 percent to 50 percent on the home's electric bill.

A solar bill was introduced in the state legislature in Texas in 2007 but did not pass. Binash aims to be involved in making a push for a solar bill that will include rebates for consumers and tax incentives for businesses when the legislature reconvenes in 2009.

POWER OF SOLAR: Wilshire Homes plans to show solar power in two model homes by the end of the first quarter 2008.
POWER OF SOLAR: Wilshire Homes plans to show solar power in two model homes by the end of the first quarter 2008.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Austin, TX.