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Woodside Homes making solar panels standard feature

A big, local builder will be the first to make solar-power systems standard in all of its new homes.

Woodside Homes, which is building in west and northwest Las Vegas and in North Las Vegas, is working with California-based sun-systems provider SolarCity to include photovoltaic panels on all homes at no upfront cost.

Under the agreement, SolarCity will finance and control the panels, and the homebuyer will lease back the system over a 20-year period at 11.1 cents per kilowatt hour. That compares with 11.8 cents per kilowatt hour that local power utility NV Energy cited as the single-family charge in its Jan. 1 rates bulletin. The U.S. Energy Information Administration quoted a Nevada-wide residential rate of 12.46 cents per kilowatt hour in January.

But that rate was up from 11.24 cents in January 2013, and that’s the major benefit to Woodside’s offering, said Annette Bubak, the Las Vegas-based builder sales manager for SolarCity. The company’s cost per kilowatt hour will stay at 11.1 cents for the lease’s 20-year life, she said.

That’s a big departure from the usual approach to buying solar, in which a homeowner either wraps a system into his mortgage or gets a separate loan to install it and works directly with the federal government and NV Energy to collect tax credits and other incentives.

“We’re eliminating all of the obstacles to adding solar power to a home,” Bubak said.

Walter Cuculic, national sales manager of developer and builder programs for SolarCity, said a homeowner’s monthly payment would depend on the size and configuration of a system, but the average would be $60 to $75 a month.

For Woodside, the agreement is an opportunity to meet growing consumer demand for green power. The company has experimented with offering prepaid solar systems as an upgrade at its Andorra neighborhood in Summerlin, but sales executives liked that SolarCity’s program went a step further.

“We definitely see a trend toward more energy-efficient homes and alternative forms of energy,” said Susan Allen, director of sales and marketing. “When we found out SolarCity was offering leases with zero down, we thought it would be a much greater value to customers because they could start enjoying savings immediately.”

Woodside buyers will be able to opt out of the program, Allen said. But because the systems are as standard as tile kitchen floors, maple cabinets and prewired cable hookups, there’s no cut in the base price for customers who skip the program.

Robert Boehm, a mechanical engineering professor and director of the Energy Research Center at UNLV, said he’s not sure why buyers would avoid the program.

“It’s a good model, because it doesn’t require any money up front,” Boehm said. “Their lease rate is a constant price. None of us can read the future, but there’s a good chance NV Energy’s prices will go up over 20 years.”

Boehm said paying for a “moderate” system up front could cost $15,000 out of pocket — a prohibitive expense for most consumers, even with tax credits and incentives.

Boehm added that he visited another subdivision in North Las Vegas that was working with SolarCity on a different program, and sales execs there had nothing but good things to say about the effect on closings.

“They seemed to be quite convinced that it had a good impact on sales,” he said. “We have a great amount of sun in Las Vegas, so these programs make a lot of sense.”

Cuculic said SolarCity is negotiating with several other large local builders to offer zero-down solar as a standard feature.

■ The Southern Nevada chapter of CCIM, and commercial and investment real estate trade group, has scheduled its annual charity poker tournament for April 10. Check-in begins at 4:30 p.m., with the tournament kicking off at 5. Register by April 4, and the cost to play is $50. After April 4, it’s $75.

Proceeds go to CCIM’s Education Foundation Scholarship fund and to children’s education or health charities.

■ Burke Construction Group won 2014 General Contracting Firm of the Year at NAIOP’s annual Spotlight Awards on March 1. The honor goes to the general contractor that demonstrates excellence in its field, participation in NAIOP, community service and the delivery of important projects in 2013.

It’s the fourth time Burke has earned the award. It also won in 2005, 2008 and 2012.

■ The Nevada Association of Realtors has a new CEO.

The trade group named longtime legal counsel Teresa McKee as its chief on March 24.

McKee, a graduate of Willamette University and Carroll College, has lived in the Reno area for more than 20 years. Earlier in the month, the American Society of Association Executives granted McKee its Certified Association Executive credential.

■ Voit Real Estate Services named new leadership.

The commercial real estate brokerage named Tom Johnston managing director. In his new job, Johnston oversees all aspects of Voit’s operations in Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Both Voit and Johnston released statements saying their goals are to expand the brokerage’s presence in the two markets.

Before joining Voit, Johnston built and managed a 23-person leasing and sales team as senior vice president of leasing and sales for PhoenixMart, a 585-acre, six million-square-foot trade center in Phoenix designed to connect manufacturers and distributors to buyers. Johnston also served as senior managing director, market leader and designated broker with brokerage Cushman &Wakefield’s Phoenix region.

He has a bachelor of arts in economics from Columbia University.

■ Colliers International brokers announced several new deals.

Dean Willmore, SIOR, represented both buyer and seller in a $1.24 million industrial sale. Ron Pycior bought the 11,100-square-foot property on 2.04 acres of land at 2642 E. Lone Mountain Road from Berg Lone Mountain LP.

Ryan Martin, Patti Dillon, Tom Stilley and Lizz Stiller represented CML NV SR LLC in its sale of a 35,663-square-foot office property at 8876 Spanish Ridge Ave., inside the Park at Spanish Ridge. Robert Hasman of Sperry Van Ness represented the buyer, Resort Holdings 5 LLC, in the $600,000 deal.

Chris Connell worked on behalf of Judy K. Jordan Family Trust UTA, Dtd January 23, 1998 on its $350,000 sale of an 8,456-square-foot office building inside Northbrooke Business Park, at 4315 N. Rancho Drive. Brendan Keating of The Equity Group represented buyer TEG Rancho LLC.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.

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