Planned US neighborhood is all-electric, solar-powered, storm-resilient

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From pv magazine USA

A unique planned, mixed-use neighborhood of 155 solar homes is now under construction in South Burlington, Vermont. The homes in Hillside East are designed with climate and storm resiliency in mind, as each one is equipped with Tesla Powerwall batteries, charged by 8 kW rooftop solar systems. There will also be a community microgrid with utility-scale batteries to keep the whole neighborhood powered up.

The neighborhood plan includes a mix of 155 single-family, multi-family and “permanently affordable” homes, according to utility Green Mountain Power (GMP). The three homes listed as currently available on the Hillside East website range in price from about $599,000 to $770,000 for three-bedroom homes.

The mixed-use neighborhood will include walking trails, playgrounds and a dog park. It is the second phase of a development that the Hillside East website says will include a variety of residential styles, access to employment opportunities, shopping, dining, and more.

Senator Welch joined Governor Phil Scott and Evan Langfeldt, president and chief executive officer of construction firm, O’Brien Brothers, along with Mari McClure, president and chief executive officer of GMP for a groundbreaking celebration.

“Vermonters are facing two overlapping challenges: a dire housing shortage and the ongoing climate crisis,” said Welch, a longtime environmental steward and co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. “This project helps tackle both problems head-on, creating more than 150 100% fossil fuel-free homes using Inflation Reduction Act tax credits. It’s the kind of ambitious project we need more of — in Vermont and across the United States.”

In addition to solar and backup batteries, the all-electric homes will have cold weather, ducted heat pump systems for heating and cooling, all electric appliances and a Span Drive level 2 EV charger in the garage. Span Smart Panels will also be installed. These electrical panels double as a home monitoring system that let the homeowner monitor energy use through a mobile app. The panels work with the Span Drive charger. All power lines will be buried underground to add to the resiliency of the neighborhood during high winds and winter storms.

Homeowners will pay an estimated $85 a month for the resiliency package of home batteries paired with solar panels with no upfront costs, according to GMP.

The utility reports that it was the first in the world to earn B Corporation certification, indicating that it meets rigorous social, environmental and accountability standards for its customers. The utility’s annual energy mix is 100% carbon free and 78% renewable.

“This is the future of the grid happening right here in Vermont. Our customer programs for energy storage, heat pumps, discount EV charging and smart panels are pulled together to bring real resilience to this community, decentralizing the grid and lowering costs for all customers,” said GMP’s McClure. “ Devastating climate impacts are here and we must move quickly to use this innovative model to bring solutions to Vermonters all over the state.”

“The energy efficiency measures, solar power generation and battery storage capacity will all work together to significantly decrease homeowners’ carbon footprints, strengthen the overall power grid and help Vermont move towards its climate goals, all while providing housing to 155 families,” said Langfeldt.

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