Using data from the Census Bureau we estimated that an average American city is composed of 150,000 households. Though more narrowed, city is still a wide term—often composed of mixed residential and commercial space. To further simplify things we decided that our city would be composed solely of residences, much like a suburb close to a metropolitan area. This allowed us to focus our findings on residential consumers, eliminating commercial and industrial electricity use. Furthermore, our model city does not include apartment high rises or town homes.
As for the residences themselves, the average American home is 2349 ft2 in area  and an average Californian residence consumes approximately 6960 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Following a discussion with Executive Planner, Jim Christensen from Pacificorp we found out that to power a city of this size, 353,350,000ft2, we would need to generate 120 megawatts of power. In the case of our solar farm, we have to take into account the 7% average loss through the transmission lines. For the sake of conservatism and round numbers, we rounded this 8.4 megawatt loss up to 10 megawatts bringing the total to 130 megawatts.
We will take this model city and utilize it in each of our two case studies. First, we will analyze the requirements of meeting this hypothetical city’s needs entirely with residential photovoltaic arrays, with each household equipped with an array of solar panels necessary to meet the household’s own electrical needs. For our concentrated dish Stirling engine farm, power will be transmitted from a remote location to the model city. This second case requires the construction of power substation to lower the high voltage being transmitted from the farm into a safer level that can be utilized in homes. The costs of this added piece of capital, along with all the power source-based calculations, will be detailed in the Results & discussion section under the subtitle, “The case for concentrated Dish Stirling generation”.