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O.C. residents want home's solar panels gone

June 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A house designed to be more environmentally responsible is causing a controversy in a Newport Beach neighborhood. At issue is the solar panels a family has installed on their home.Steve Rizzone has spent years building his family's dream home in Newport Beach and he's proud it's truly green.

"We've really gone out of our way to build a lasting and what we think is attractive and energy efficient home," said Rizzone, who said the steel studs in his home are made out of recycled aluminum and the insulation is made out of recycled newspapers.

The home is just over 10,000 square feet and is powered by nearly 170 solar panels installed in May on a hillside behind the house facing the northeast side of Balboa Island.

"The life of these panels is about 30 years. Over that lifetime, this single system will save emissions going into the air equivalent to 110,000 gallons of gasoline," explained Rizzone.

But compared to nearby hillsides, some neighbors complain it's an eyesore.

"It's such a monstrosity to look at, and when we have taken so much time and care to make this community look like a traditional, natural habitat. Now, we have a 3,000-square-foot glass panel that takes up a hillside," said Kim Gessford, a neighbor.

Some neighbors also complain that the solar panels reflect too much light, creating a glare at times.

"I would like to see it moved to the roof," suggested Gessford.

"We thought initially about putting them up on the roof but ran into problems with the homeowners association on height restrictions," explained Rizzone.

Rizzone says the project is fully permitted and approved by the city and the glass covering the panels is treated to decrease glare.

He plans to landscape the hill to help soften the look. He hopes that neighbors will feel better about it once it is completely finished. The Rizzones plan to move into the house in a few weeks.


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