by The Sustainability Steward (JR)On Saturday, October 6, I toured some of the homes here in Plano on the annual DFW Solar Home Tour, sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). This is the 17th year that ASES held a national solar tour, with 14 homes in the Metroplex listed on the self-guided tour. The City of Plano demonstrated its leadership in sustainability with four homes on the tour, the most of any one city in the area.
The homes on the tour were the Caldwell home at 3700 Hearst Castle, the Elliot residence at 2401 Trellis Lane, the Neukranz house at 3309 Rampart in east Plano, and the home at 3325 Canoncita occupied by Bill and Libby Perry. Although it was an overcast day, it was a perfect way to visit with the homeowners and get their perspective of having solar panels installed on their roofs and the electricity savings that they are now seeing.
The first home I visited was the residence of John Caldwell on Hearst Castle drive. John is a fascinating individual, and not only discussed his solar energy system with me, but shared his organic garden and his patented invention, the bicep bike. He teaches a gardening class through the Plano Parks and Recreation, while his bicep bike was recently highlighted on Gear TV (as also shown on Youtube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iAYvXPYrec
His solar array gives him approximately 25% of his electricity needs, and on days that he is actually producing more than consuming electricity, TXU credits him at $0.13 kWh for the energy he is producing for the power grid.
The next stop on the tour was the Perry home on Canoncita. Not only do they have panels on the south facing side of their home, but on the west side as well, and as a result, are averaging about 50% of their annual electricity consumption with the solar cells installed on their roof.
Their system has been installed for a year and is able to be monitored online in real time. The Perry family was very open about the techniques they have adopted in water conservation as well, and have one of the most environmentally friendly homes I’ve encountered in our community.
The last home visited was the Elliot home on Trellis drive. This, too, has optimized its ability to collect energy from the sun with a nice array of south facing panels. Panels are best positioned at a 33 degree angle facing the south, and a solar system of 4 kWh will typically generate over 5,000 kWh of electricity a year in our area.
If you are interested in learning more about solar energy in our community, please consider joining the Plano Solar Advocates. The Advocates have a goal to increase the installed base in the city of Plano to 5MWp of solar capacity by 2015, or, approximately 1000 homes or business sites with installed solar panels. More information on the advocacy program and promoting Plano to become a leader in solar energy capacity in Texas can be found at: http://planosolar.blogspot.com/.