California to vote on solar-for-all-new-homes rule

Posted May 10, 2018

The California Energy Commission on Wednesday approved a requirement for solar panels on new homes starting in 2020.

The code includes incentives for energy storage while mandating that the construction of new homes include advanced energy efficiency measures and rooftop solar.

The far-reaching standards, adopted unanimously by the five-member California Energy Commission, require that new residential buildings in the state be equipped with the panels.

The solar-power industry provides about 16 percent of California's electricity and employs more than 86,000 workers, according to the Times.

"It absolutely will increase the cost of homes", says Lisa Vorderbrueggen, director of governmental affairs for the Bay Area Building Industry Association.

It is the first such mandate nationwide and the state's latest step to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Almost 16% of the state's electricity previous year came from solar.

"This is an undeniably historic decision for the state and the U.S. California has always been our nation's biggest solar champion, and its mass adoption of solar has generated huge economic and environmental benefits, including bringing tens of billions of dollars of investment into the state". They would still have to draw some of their electricity from the power grid. And in California overall, half as many people can afford median priced housing as in the rest of the country.

'That's just going to drive the cost up and make California, once again, not affordable to live, ' Assemblyman Brian Dahle, the chamber's GOP leader, said Tuesday.

It's unclear how much major solar installers like Sunrun Inc. and Vivint Solar Inc. will benefit, said Joe Osha, a San Francisco-based analyst at JMP Securities. In all, the new residential requirements are expected to make a single-family house $9,500 more expensive to build on average, but save $19,000 in reduced utility bills over a 30-year period, according to the Energy Commission. While that's a boost for the solar industry, critics warned that it will also drive up the cost of buying a house by nearly $10,000.

Builders will have the option of adding solar panels to individual homes, or building shared power systems for a group of homes. Meanwhile, plans to require new homes to be "net-zero" have been put on hold for now as such a move is not yet cost-effective and could actually support fossil fuel generation, the newspaper reports.

'This is a step, a very important step, in a long trajectory that we have been planning for and telling the world, ' said Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister.