Developer Ron Monahanto and architect George Watt, both based in Boulder, Colo., are building the first net-zero energy homes in South Carolina at the Ridge at Chukker Creek south of Aiken.

All homes in the development will be energy efficient, but Monahan said in a statement that he and Watt will erect one to four zero-energy homes within the development starting this spring. Net-zero energy homes create as much energy as they use, and the homeowners should have little or no utility charges.

Although the zero-energy houses equipped with photovoltaic panels cost more than traditional units, Monahan explained that the energy savings over the lifetime of the houses, their higher resale value, and federal and state tax credits more than offset the initial costs. Furthermore, federal energy conservation incentives in the behemoth federal stimulus package should help defray some of buyers’ costs, he said.

Meanwhile, Monahan and Watt will work with Aiken city planners on using advanced but inexpensive energy-efficiency methods that could save up to 70% on energy costs in the ongoing Northside revitalization project. These savings could be applied to reduce mortgage payments, city officials said.