California will require solar power on nearly all new homes

Oscar PerryMay 10, 2018

The Valley Industry & Commerce Association has come out against a mandate from the California Energy Commission requiring solar panels on all new residential buildings starting in 2020.

The commission estimated solar panels could increase construction costs for a single-family home by about $10,000.

State Sen. Scott Wiener pushed for the solar requirement while on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and also introduced a bill previous year that would have required all new commercial and residential buildings to have solar panels. "By demonstrating a very expensive way to reduce greenhouse gases, I think this could very likely be used in other states and countries as an argument against moving towards renewable energy".

The commission projects that more than 100,000 single-family homes and nearly 50,000 multi-family buildings will be built across the state in 2020.

Sunrun expects the new requirements to provide a boost for the residential solar market.

California becomes the first state to force homebuilders to include solar power in new construction. The requirement would only apply to newly constructed homes, although many homeowners are choosing to install solar panels with the help of rebate programs. When the new standards take effect, that number is expected to jump to 100,000 new solar homes per year.

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Updates to the Title 24 standards are projected to reduce home energy use by 53 percent compared to the current code, saving Californians $1.7 billion in energy costs over the next 30 years.

In this tight housing market, any roof - with or without solar panels - is desirable, real estate agents say.

Christie Cromeenes, executive director of the Central Coast Builders Association, said in an email to KCBX News Wednesday afternoon she's concerned the cost of mandated solar panels will stifle growth.

"I can't over state how strongly I feel about normalizing the solar experience so it feels less risky to the consumer", said Ross Hopper. Homeowners would save, however, about $19,00 in reduced energy costs over 30 years. Advertising a new energy system indicates to buyers the house has been upgraded in other ways, such as with smart thermostats and efficient windows, said Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. The commission also says people will save about $80 a month on their utility bills.

After carefully considering this requirement, the Commission on energy of the state on Wednesday, may 9, approved it.

"Making California homes more energy-efficient is part of a broader initiative to shrink the state's greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. We are also sending a national message that ... we are a leader in the clean energy economy".

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