California becomes 1st USA state to mandate solar for new homes

ImageAn array of solar panels in Oakland Calif. Solar power provides almost 16 percent of the state’s

ImageAn array of solar panels in Oakland Calif. Solar power provides almost 16 percent of the state’s

The California Energy Commission approved the 2019 Building Energy Code on Wednesday, requiring renewable energy access for all new residential homes in the state starting in 2020.

The commission estimates the solar mandate will add an average of about $9,500 to the upfront cost of single-family houses but result in about $19,000 in energy savings over a 30-year period.

The commission also adopted new standards that are expected to increase the energy efficiency of attics, walls, insulation and windows.

But the researchers noted a bright spot - the state's greenhouse gas emissions are declining, despite a growing population.

'You can bet every other of the 49 states will be watching closely to see what happens, ' he said.

But Republican legislative leaders argue Californians can not afford to pay any more for housing in what is already an extremely expensive market.

The California Energy Commission hopes the first-of-its-kind statewide requirement will be a boon for homeowners and the environment.

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.

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. They'll then need approval from the state's Building Standards Commission.

"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. The simpler requirement to include solar panels on homes has been supported by homebuilders and environmentalists, although solar industry groups pushed for the more stringent requirements.

She noted in an interview that deploying solar as part of the home building process will normalize the technology for tens of thousands of families, in a positive way.

California - now the world's fifth-largest economy - already has a reputation for pushing the boundaries when it comes to going green. 'Homes had to have a certain amount of space on the roof so a homeowner could add a solar panel later on if he chooses'.

California has set a long-term goal to dramatically improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Although unprecedented in many ways, the solar panel requirement will be incremental. Use of batteries to store solar energy will be crucial to cost savings, Raymer said.

"Alex Steffen, who writes about sustainability and urban planning, said the state's biggest climate challenge is the fact that Californians drive so much".

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.