Banking kilowatts

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Banking kilowatts

Donna Naples points out the arrow on her electric meter.

When it points right, the home’s solar system is producing more energy than is being used in the house, and the balance is feeding the grid.

Naples is banking kilowatts

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New homes are constructed in the Trilogy subdivision in Groveland on Tuesday.

Homes in Groveland subdivision use solar energy in order to keep electric costs low

Groveland resident Donna Naples remembers going to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and hearing about the future and the possibility of many cool things to come.

After all, the fair’s theme was “Peace through Understanding,” with a focus on “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe.”

An online description said, “The fair is best remembered as a showcase of mid-20th century American culture and technology.”

Naples, then 10 years old, heard about the possibility of wireless phones and solar energy and was awed by the prospects.

To her, those things seemed impossible.

Little did she know that, almost 50 years later, she’d not only own a cell phone but she’d actually be living in a solar-powered home.

“When you’re 10 years old, you don’t think about it like that.

You don’t think of the reality, but it’s amazing, and now 50 years later, here I am and me and my husband are living in a home just like that,” Naples said.

“Never in my lifetime did I ever think I’d be a part of that.”

Naples, now almost 60, lives at Trilogy, an age-restricted, gated community off U.S. Highway 27 in Groveland.

Homes start at $172,000 for villas and go up to nearly $400,000.

Her home, along with every home at Trilogy built after January 2013 — when Shea Homes took over for Levitt as the community’s builder, is powered by solar energy.

She and her husband enjoy receiving electric bills that, on most months, are $10.48 or less.

Everett said the cost is for surge protectors and not really electric.

“We have no electric bill here and I know that especially in summer months, electric bills can be $200-$300.

Never have we had a bill more than $10.80, even in the summer, as hot as it is here, and running the A/C sufficiently,” Naples said.

Katie Everett, sales manager for Shea Homes Marketing Company, said the very thought of not having to pay a high electric bill every month is what keeps people buying at Trilogy.

“It’s newer technology that came out in February 2013, but as a consumer going out and buying solar for their home on their own, it’s very expensive. You’re looking at anywhere from about $30,000 or $40,000 to $50,000,” Everett said.

“Shea Homes solved the financial model.

You have to save a lot of energy to consider spending $40,000.”

Everett said when a customer buys a home, Shea pays for the 20-year lease price of a solar system, about $20,000 to $25,000, to SolarCity, its trade partner.

Buyers then get to choose from three models: three-, four- or five-kilowatt systems that vary the amount of electric used or money paid for it.

An upgrade to what Shea refers to as a “SheaXero system, means a “No Electric Bill Home,” and ends up offsetting electricity costs all year.

SolarCity maintains the system for its life, about 30 years.

“It costs the consumer nothing up front,” she said. “This is a 55-plus community, and you figure one of the biggest concerns for an empty nester is, ‘How can I have the least amount of expenditures?’ “No electric bill is a big one when you consider that in 10 years, electric rates have gone up 400 percent. Just research that.”

And if you look at the nearly 500 homes already built out of the approximate 1,500 total after Shea’s build-out capacity at Trilogy, it’s easy to spot the features that contribute to its solar energy status — solar panels.

“Each home has a patch of solar panels on the roof and after a while, you don’t even notice it anymore,” Naples said.

The homes take in solar energy during the day, transfer it to a grid to store it so there is power throughout the night.

“You’re connected to the grid. You’re like a little mini power plant,” she said.

And though most days in Florida are sunny, the system still works during gloomy or rainier days because the ultraviolet light that the sun gives off is still powerful enough.

The main thing that sells buyers, Everett said, is that they end up saving about $2,000 to $5,000 per year in electric costs.

Everett also said that as more and more consumers get solar and spread the word about it, it’s going to become the norm.

“We figure that if we start providing solar to consumers, other consumers are going to start demanding it,” Everett said.

Naples said she sometimes reflects on what she and her husband will do in 20 years when the Shea Homes lease on their system is up.

“In 20 years, they’ll probably approach us and ask if we want the newest system and we’ll decide then, but right now, it’s there. And coming from South Florida, where electric was very expensive, I can’t imagine not having it,” Naples said.

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Solar installations such as this one are a common sight at Trilogy in Groveland.

LINDA CHARLTON / CORRESPONDENT

http://www.dailycommercial.com/

New homes are constructed in the Trilogy subdivision in Groveland on Tuesday.

BRETT LE BLANC / DAILY COMMERCIAL

ROXANNE BROWN

roxanne.brown@dailycommercial.com

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One thought on “Banking kilowatts

  1. Pingback: Naples is banking kilowatts | sachemspeaks

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