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SOLAR IS HOT TREND

Roughly 8 out of 100 homes now generating solar power

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SOLAR IS HOT TREND

The solar power panels at Sequoia School double as parking structures.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/


POSTED April 21, 2017 1:51 a.m.

In the coming months Manteca will reach a milestone no one would have thought possible less than a decade ago — the 1,800th home in the city could be generating its own electricity.

That is roughly 8 out of every 100 single family homes in Manteca.

Manteca issued 57 solar permits in March to bring the number of solar installations for single family homes in the first three  months of 2017 to 84 with a combined value of $1.4 million. By comparison there were 111 solar installations in 2016 valued at $2 million.

The surge in new solar installations is being powered by new home sales. More buyers are opting for solar electricity generating systems when their homes are being built allowing the cost to be collapsed into the mortgage as opposed to a free-standing loan needed for installation on existing homes.

It doesn’t quite match the surge in 2015 and 2006 when the initial federal tax credit was set to expire. Instead of lapsing, however, the federal tax credit was extended and now is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021.

The credit remains at 30 percent of as residential solar system generating electricity through the end of 2019. It then drops to 26 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2019.

In a report in September of 2015 the city’s building inspection division provided the Manteca Planning Commission with a report noting the 600 residential solar installations in the previous 12 months were producing .37 megawatts or enough to supply all the electricity need for 593 typical homes. The installations represent almost $12 million worth of investment based on the average price for a single family home installation of $18,148 at the time.

The biggest incentives are PG&E power bills for newer homes that often surpass $200 a month as well as the federal tax credit. The federal subsidy essentially gives taxpayers back 30 percent of the full cost of the solar system.

Firms installing systems in Manteca provide homeowners with the option to buy or lease systems.

There were no solar energy systems in Manteca residential neighborhoods in 2007. Today you’d be hard-pressed to find a neighborhood without them. 

The largest non-residential installations are at Manteca Unified school campuses, Target, Kohl’s Department Store and the Manteca Transit Center. The city is currently working on plans to install Manteca’s single largest solar panel system at the wastewater treatment plant.

Manteca typically completes checks for the systems in one day with many often reviewed and approved “over the counter.”

Some cities in California such as Sebastopol have a solar mandate for new residential and commercial buildings as well as major renovations of existing structures.

Chula Vista requires electrical conduits and plumbing to be installed in new construction to allow homeowners, if they want, to add solar photovoltaic systems or solar hot-water systems. Lancaster requires new subdivisions to produce the equivalent of one kilowatt of solar electricity per housing unit built.

The 84 solar power systems are part of $68.4 million worth of construction started in Manteca so far in 2017 through the end of March.

There have been 102 new homes started despite heavy rains in all three months. That compares to 362 housing units built in all of 2016.

Thirty-six homes were started In March. They had a combined construction value — not market value — of $10.46 million. The average size for a new home started last month was 3,043 square feet, up from 2,719 square feet in February.

Millie and Severson Inc. has the first of a series permits in review for a new distribution center at CenterPoint in northwest Manteca near North Airport Way and Roth Road. It is for a 404,657-square-foot concrete tilt-up industrial warehouse being built for 5.11 Tactical.  The plan for Tactical 5.11 also calls for a possible 134,500 square foot addition at a later date. The overall investment for the first phase is $45 million.

Two other major projects expected to break ground this year:

uCenterPoint is also pushing to break ground on a spec building for a client that they have yet to disclose.  The 1,199,997-square-foot building is being proposed in two phases on a 63.29-acre parcel. The first phase will consist of 551,475 square feet.

uPlans are at city hall for review to build a 150-unit apartment complex between Paseo Villas and Juniper Apartments along Atherton Drive.

Developers surveyed by the Bulletin anticipate building between 400 and 500 new single family homes this year.

 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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