Manteca is closing in on its 4,000th installation of solar panels to generate electricity for homes.
The city has issued 971 permits for solar installations through Nov. 30. That tops the record of 969 solar installations in all of 2018. Given the last time staff issued a report to the City Council in April of 2017 that noted there were just under 1,800 homes at the time in Manteca with solar power systems, the city is closing in on 4,000 homes with solar power or 1 out of every 8 single family homes.
The systems aren’t inexpensive. Based on a collective value of $19.1 million for solar permits issued so far this year, the average Manteca installation is averaging $19,670.
Starting Jan. 1, all new single family homes in California will be required to have solar power systems. A California Energy Commission analysis estimates the requirement will add $10,000 to the cost of a typical new home. That, however, is significantly lower than what builders such as Meritage Homes that has built new neighborhoods in Manteca says it will cost. The firm has put the cost of solar systems for new homes at the time of construction at between $25,000 and $35,000. Between new homes and existing homes, solar panel installations have been averaging $19,670 apiece so far this year.
The state energy commission has pegged typical savings at $19,000 over a 25-year period. Meritage Homes projects the savings to surpass $50,000 based on the larger homes they build. If the energy commission is correct, the actual savings after installation costs while not taking into account additional mortgage interest will be $9,000. Meritage’s model puts it at $25,000 plus.
More buyers in recent years have been 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.
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.
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.
While most systems don’t exactly eliminate the need to buy electricity from PG&E, may come close. 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 of 593 homes.
Firms installing systems in Manteca provide homeowners with the option to buy or lease systems.
There were no solar energy systems in Manteca residential neighborhood 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 in 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.
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