Home buyers at three Lennar neighborhoods in Northern California will be surprised to learn that their new house will come with a mini power plant. The Sacramento division of the national builder is offering a solar power system on all its houses as a standard feature.

“We believe in the solar concept and its ability to lower energy costs for customers,” says Jeff Panasiti, president of the Sacramento division. The builder says it will be the nation's largest solar neighborhood.

Located in the city of Roseville (northeast of Sacramento), the communities of Wayfarer and Laureate at West-Park and Ironcrest at Fiddyment Farm will offer homes with a standard 2.4-kilowatt system as part of the builder's SOLARplus program.

In addition to the solar installation, the homes also will feature a variety of energy-saving upgrades, such as beefed-up insulation, highly insulated windows, efficient HVAC systems, Energy Star appliances, and radiant barrier sheathing installed on every roof to help cut down on heat gain. With all the features, “homeowners should see a 40 percent to 60 percent reduction in electric usage per year,” Panasiti explains.

The 300 homes in the solar program will vary in size from 2,213 to 4,720 square feet and will range in price from the low $400s to the mid $600s. Lennar is launching the solar program with the local utility company, Roseville Electric and PowerLight Corp., a Berkeley, Calif.–based provider of large-scale solar power systems.