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Solar systems are hot
Manteca on track for 900 installations this year
A solar power structure doubles as a parking lot canopy at Sequoia School. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The future looks bright for roof-top solar systems in Manteca — at least through the end of 2016.

Residential solar installations are pushing a record setting 900 units this year in Manteca. Eight years ago not a single solar photovoltaic permit for residential use was issued in Manteca.

The 600 residential installations so far this year are producing 3.37 megawatts or enough to supply all the electricity needs of 593 homes. The installations represent almost  $12 million worth of investment based on the average price for a single family home installation of $18,148.

The biggest incentives are PG&E power bills for newer homes that often surpass $200 a month as well as a federal tax credit that expires at the end of 2016. The federal subsidy essentially gives taxpayers back 30 percent of the full cost of the solar system. The firms currently installing systems in Manteca provide homeowners with the option to buy or lease systems.

The rapid ascent of residential solar power in Manteca is being highlighted Tuesday during a presentation to the Planning Commission by the city’s Chief Building Official Brad Wungluck. The commission meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center council chambers, 1001 W. Center St.

Nearly 1,600 Manteca homes have solar systems for electricity today. That’s roughly 8 percent of all single family homes in Manteca.

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.

There were 885 photovoltaic permits issued in Manteca in the 12-month period ending Aug. 31.

The city issued its first photovoltaic permit in 2008. There were 24 permits issued that year. The number jumped to  92 in 2009, dropped to 70 in 2008 and 55 in 2011 before rebounding slightly to 80 in 2012. Then the tax credit came into play as well as the PG&E California Solar Initiative Residential that has since lapsed to send permits up to 211 in 2013. There were 451 issued in 2014 and 600 to date this year.

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.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.comn