Vintage Oaks Solar Community

Renovation Project
The Vintage Oaks Senior Apartment complex is a 241-unit affordable senior housing complex, located on Stock Ranch Road in Citrus Heights. USA Properties Fund, Inc. (USA Properties) owns and maintains the complex. In December 2009, USA Properties began a significant renovation of the Vintage Oaks Senior Apartment Complex in Citrus Heights to improve energy efficiency, affordability, and livability.

Key Improvements

As part of a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit financing effort, the project included:
  • Ceiling fans
  • EnergyStar appliances
  • Installation of energy efficient water heaters
  • Fluorescent lighting
  • Landscaping and general repairs
  • Solarization
Solar Panels on Complex
Photovoltaic Panel System
By far the largest improvement was the installation of a 475-kilowatt roof-mounted photovoltaic panel system throughout the complex. "We had done a few other projects with solar installations," said USA Properties Project Manager Santiago del Rio, "but not to this scale." The solar panels provide approximately 83% of the energy required for each rental unit as well as 90% of the energy required for the common areas including the clubhouse.

Electric Bill Reductions
According to Wade Hughes, manager of SMUD's SolarSmart program, virtual net metering takes advantage of great economies of scale. Under a traditional net metering system, each unit would require its own solar panel and its own inverter, as well as an additional meter.

Such a configuration would not have been possible at Vintage Oaks because "there's not enough space on the side of the building," said Hughes. Instead, virtual net metering allows for on-site solar generation without requiring the generator to be physically connected to each billing meter.

Without such a configuration, SMUD could not deliver the benefits of solar energy to a population that has been largely under-served, the low- and very low-income seniors. Hughes said the average tenant's electric bill has been reduced from $26 to just $7 dollars a month.

Awards
The Vintage Oaks project received recognition and an award from the publication, State and Local Energy Report.