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GE energy's solar aystems reduce electric bills in Sacramento's first zero energy homes community

AZDEL : 20 March, 2006  (Company News)
GE Energy's industry-leading, solar electric power systems are being installed in Premier Homes Zero Energy Homes community, Premier Gardens, located in Sacramento, Calif. Premier Gardens is the first Zero Energy Homes community in the Sacramento area. Through the use of renewable energy systems, the U.S. Department of Energy's ZEH initiative aims to reduce the amount of energy consumed by single-family homes.
GE Energy's solar electric power systems provide residential homeowners with a substantial reduction in their utility bills. According to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the average utility bill in a Premier Gardens' 'Zero Energy Home' with a GE solar system is significantly lower than in a similar home in a non-ZEH community. Zero Energy Homes as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy are expected to realize by design savings of up to 60 percent on their energy costs.

Premier Homes has contracted with GE Energy to provide its unique roof integrated solar systems as standard equipment on all 95 Zero Energy Homes in Premier Gardens. This is the third Premier Homes community to which GE Energy has supplied solar systems. The previous two Premier Homes communities are also located in the Sacramento region in Roseville and Lincoln. GE Energy also provided experienced personnel for installation training for Premier Homes' roofers and electricians.

'Whenever you can combine beautiful architecture with energy efficient homes, it is a win-win situation for the consumer and the environment,' said John Stewart, Principal of Premier Homes. 'We believe Premier Gardens gives residents a wonderful place to call home.'

A critical component to any successful Zero Energy Homes community is a good working relationship with the local utility. Sacramento Municipal Utility District serves the Premier Gardens community. SMUD provided substantial incentives to Premier Homes to utilize building integrated solar technology.

For more than 20 years, SMUD has been a utility leader in the solar industry. Developing and deploying cost-effective, clean, distributed generation enables SMUD to lower the cost of serving its customers by reducing peak power usage and helps SMUD realize local environmental benefits.

'The Zero Energy Homes in Premier Gardens offer residents a remarkable savings,' said Jon Bertolino, Superintendent of Renewable Generation Assets at SMUD. 'Initial bills show charges ranging from $30 a month to zero to credits when excess electricity was sold back to SMUD. On Autumn days, power continues to be generated by the solar roof tiles meeting a large portion of their needs.'

SMUD certified all Premier Gardens homes as SMUD Solar Advantage homes, which certifies the homes will exceed the current California Title 24 energy cooling requirements by 50 percent. In addition, the homes meet the requirements to be rated as ENERGY STAR(R) Homes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The ZEH Program compliance and design work for the homes at Premier Gardens was completed by Consol, a Stockton, Calif.-based firm that is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's ZEH contractors.

'We are pleased that our relationship with our builders continues to grow. Premier Homes has chosen GE Energy to supply solar electric systems to three of its communities. This is a trend that we see with many of the nations largest builders as they begin to build more and more renewable energy communities. Our commitment to our customer from order to installation makes all the difference,' said Ali Iz, general manager for GE Energy's solar technologies division. 'Solar power continues to be one of the fastest growing renewable forms of energy and knowing that we are helping homeowners lower their monthly utility bills is very rewarding.'
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