Published: Thu, May 10, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

California Mandates Solar Panels on New Homes

California Mandates Solar Panels on New Homes

Solar companies cheered the move, saying they hoped such requirements would one day be adopted in other states, too.

Advocates for the poor fear that the new rules passed by fiat by the California Energy Commission will only cause energy poverty to grow. It applies only to new construction. According to the AP, the mandate still needs final approval from the state's Building Standards Commission, which will likely happen.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the California Building Industry Association, which represents new homebuilders, has expressed reservations about the new rules, adding it wished the state would've postponed the regulations for a few years. "No industry groups spoke in opposition".

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"With this adoption, the California Energy Commission has struck a fair balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously limiting increased construction costs", said California Building Industry Association CEO and President Dan Dunmoyer. Utility savings will balance out that cost over the long term, but the higher sales point will still hurt developers, real estate agents and some homebuyers. It will add thousands of dollars to the cost of home when a shortage of affordable housing is one of California's most pressing issues.

California Solar and Storage Association's Director of Technology Advancement, Kelly Knutsen, has also stated that solar power is cost-effective in nearly every single climate and "will pay for itself". And they include efforts to increase battery storage and increase use of electricity over natural gas. "But on the other hand, increasing the energy efficiency of homes has always been a state priority, so there's no free lunch".

California will now require solar panels on most new homes, extending the state's role in pushing some of the strictest environmental regulations in the United States.

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California has set a goal of all residential buildings being 'zero net energy, ' meaning they produce as much energy as they consume. As others have pointed out, policies requiring higher residential density would do far more to cut emissions, largely by discouraging people from driving cars.

The California Energy Commission estimates that the solar panel mandate will cost homeowners roughly $40 a month on an average mortgage payment. Beck, the energy commission spokeswoman, said the Building Standards Commission traditionally accepts energy commission recommendations without change. But it could prove to be more challenging for new homeowners in communities with lower housing costs such as Fresno in the Central Valley.

The solar panel requirement isn't a done deal yet.

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