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It's a sign of the times. California's San Bernardino County is seeing its first new home subdivision of homes designed to run on solar panels.

Three model homes at CenterStone Communities' Harmony at CenterStone Estates development in Fontana were recently unveiled using prototypes of the 2.3 kilowatt photovoltaic systems to be included on all of the development's homes.

To top it off, the houses will have electric meters that spin backward when the house's system produces more power than its homeowners use, drought-resistant turf and irrigation systems, and high-efficiency toilets as well.

CenterStone financially benefits from the California Energy Commission's New Solar Home Partnership, which provides a tiered assistance program for projects deemed more energy efficient than the standard newly built home.

Fontana is also the site where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was recently joined by Southern California Edison officials to announce a plan to install 65 million square feet of solar panels on commercial building rooftops designed to power 162,000 homes. The press conference took place on the roof of a 600,000 square foot distribution center owned by ProLogis, which will lease its rooftop to Edison, which will install and maintain panels to produce enough solar power to power an additional 1400 homes.

According to participating northern California-based Petersen-Dean Roofing Systems, integrated solar roofing is a proven technology with real benefits and built-in savings. And although the company has been versed in these types of roofs for the past 30 years, this foray into California's Inland Empire is a significant step, especially now - when the future of oil prices is not promising.

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