With so much focus on the damage Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida’s electric power grid, solar energy is gaining renewed interest.
Lennar is one step ahead of the game with its new Polo Run, the first all-solar community in Lakewood Ranch. The community is under construction on 422 acres on the north side of State Road 70, six miles east of I-75 and east of the Premier Sports campus.
All of the eventual 500 single-family homes will be equipped with rooftop solar panels leased to the homeowners by the solar technology company, SunStreet. It is estimated that these panels will offset an estimated 50 percent to 60 percent of each home’s energy needs, according to Kyle Bernethy, Lennar’s vice president of sales for Southwest Florida.
This is, after all, the Sunshine State, but with advancements in today's technology, solar panels produce reliable clean energy even on cloudy days, says Bernethy. “Home buyers expect their homes to reflect the latest technology and that includes solar power,” he says. “Unlike energy-efficient materials that are often behind the walls, solar is one of those few features that, when you see it on the roof of a home, you know exactly what it does. It has been incredibility popular with buyers across the country.”
Bernethy says he’s finding the concept is appealing to a wide range of buyers. “Among younger buyers we see a strong desire to have a home that's seen as ‘smart’ across the board. They like the idea of producing their own energy and conserving natural resources,” he says. “Among 55 and up buyers, a strong appeal is the idea of a fixed monthly payment that offsets roughly 50 to 60 percent of the home's energy needs.”
And for those skittish about solar technology, he points out that because SunStreet owns the solar panels, the company will provide free maintenance and troubleshooting during the term of the lease.
“The SunStreet solar lease program makes having a solar home an affordable and simple process,” says Bernethy. “There are no up-front costs, and the homeowners simply make a fixed monthly payment that does not change throughout the term of the lease. Brand-name products that come with a 20-year warranty are installed by trained and certified installers, and before the system is activated, it is inspected by the utility and the county to ensure the system is reliable and safe.”
Three home models ranging from 1,600 to 3400 square feet are being offered at Polo Run, starting in the high $200,000s. There will be a community playground; resort pool, clubhouse, fitness center, and bocce ball, tennis and basketball courts. Build-out is expected in five to six years, “possibly less based on current market conditions and progress,” Bernethy says.