Published: Thu, May 10, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

California becomes first state to mandate solar panels on new homes

California becomes first state to mandate solar panels on new homes

The California Energy Commission is to vote Wednesday on new energy standards that would make it a must for new homes built in the state to have solar panels from 2020.

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

"Adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap in statewide buildings standards", said Robert Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association. "You can bet every other of the 49 states will be watching closely to see what happens".

The commission endorsed the requirement after representatives of builders, utilities and solar manufacturers voiced support.

The measure now moves toward final approval later this year by the state's Building Standards Commission.

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

The commission estimates solar panels would boost construction costs for a single-family home by roughly $10,000. MORE earlier this year introduced a 30 percent tariff on solar panel technology, a move fiercely criticized by US solar companies. It requires new homes to have a solar-power system of a minimum 2 to 3 kilowatts, depending mostly on the size of the home. And they include efforts to increase battery storage and increase use of electricity over natural gas.

"With this type of clean energy championship, California continues to establish itself as an environmental and economic leader", said Lynn Jurich, chief executive of San Francisco-based residential solar installer Sunrun Inc.

'This is a very bold and visionary step that we're taking, ' said David Hochschild, a member of the Energy Commission. The requirement would only apply to newly constructed homes, not existing ones, although many homeowners are choosing to install solar panels with the help of rebate programs. 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. There are some exceptions to the solar panel rule, such as homes that would be shaded by trees or buildings or when roofs are too small for the panels.

The state is already the nation's leader in solar power.

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