California Is Set to Require Solar Power for New Homes

Sean Reid
May 10, 2018

In addition to the solar requirement, the new building standards will offer a credit for solar capacity combined with on-site energy storage.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the change amounts to an additional 200 megawatts of solar deployed in the state annually.

It's official. In California, new homes built in 2020 and beyond will be required to incorporate solar panels. Last year, the California Association of Realtors released a report saying that about 70 percent of the state couldn't afford the median home price of more than $550,000.

California Set to Require Solar on New Homes

California has already made giant strides in adding renewable-energy generation, which has started to create its own set of problems.

The new rules, which will take full effect in two years, will add thousands of dollars to the construction and maintenance of new homes, but leaders in Sacramento say that the effort will be worth the costs. Overall, California expects the new residential and non-residential standards to cost the state economy $2.17 billion, while generating an energy bill savings of $3.87 billion, for a net savings of $1.7 billion. The state's Building Standards Commission will vote later this year.

"California has always been home to pioneering solar policies, and we applaud today's decision to require solar power on all new homes", says Michelle Kinman, clean energy and transportation program director for Environment California Research & Policy Center. It goes into effect January 1, 2020, and includes all condominiums and apartment buildings up to three stories high.

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Stuart Waldman, president of the Van Nuys business advocacy group, said the commission's decision om Wednesday gives housing developers and potential homeowners another reason to leave California as housing affordability is one of the major issues facing the state.

California has pursued a wide-ranging list of policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The regulations include exceptions when solar panels aren't feasible, such as on a home shrouded in shade, or cost-effective.

Some critics, though, question the wisdom of the transition to solar at a time when California is struggling with a dire housing crisis and skyrocketing housing costs.

The requirement would apply only to newly constructed homes, although many homeowners are choosing to install rooftop solar panels with the help of rebate programs.

Currently, California has a law that says 50% of the state's electricity should be coming from non-carbon sources by 2030. Some analysts claimed that while mortgage costs on a thirty-year loan could go up as much as $40 a month due to the solar requirements, owners may also save up to $80 a month on electric costs.

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