California will require solar power on nearly all new homes
California will require solar power on nearly all new homes
California homebuyers' wish lists rarely include solar
10 May, 2018, 14:28
Starting in 2020, almost all new single-family homes and low-rise apartment buildings built in California must have solar power, state authorities ruled Wednesday.
About 117,000 new single-family homes and 48,000 multi-family units will be built in 2020, the commission estimates.
The minimum amount of solar power required by the new standards wouldn't be enough to meet all the needs of most homes.
Currently, the solar panels are installed in only 15-20% of the new single-family homes.
"Adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap in statewide building standards; no other state in the nation will have anything close to this and you can bet every one of the other 49 states will be watching close to see what happens", testified Bob Raymer, director of the California Building Industry Association.
Besides the solar mandate, the new standards to be voted on Wednesday include lighting upgrades for all new commercial buildings and high-rise construction above three stories, a transition that will help buildings use 30 percent less energy.
Even as California regulators are poised to require solar panels on virtually all new homes, few prospective homebuyers have the amenity on their wish lists.
The California Energy Commission says the move will save consumers tens of thousands of dollars in the long run on their monthly energy bills, but they'll have to pay more up front.
This would make California the first state to implement this sort of requirement.
It's possible that with the new rule in place, the costs of solar could go down, and both panels and installations could get a lot cheaper.
The NRDC notes that the policy must still be approved by the state's Buildings Standards Commission, which will take up the proposal in December. He said the rules "will save energy, lower customer bills, keep homes comfortable in increasing heat waves and reduce pollution from California's homes and buildings". The commission's analysis says the solar panel mandate will have "notably less impact on the housing market than 4-6 months of normal median family home price inflation".
Andrew McAllister, a member of the Energy Commission, has said that this would be an important "part of an overall suite of reforms to reduce greenhouse gases". Exceptions or alternatives will be allowed when homes are shaded by trees or buildings or when the home's roofs are too small to accommodate solar panels. There are 250,000 solar jobs nationwide, with most employees involved with the installation of new systems.
"California now burns as much gas in our buildings as we do in our power plants", the letter states.
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