Published: Thu, May 10, 2018
Finance | By Cynthia Curry

California Mandates Solar Panels for All New Homes Built After 2020

California Mandates Solar Panels for All New Homes Built After 2020

All new homes in California must come equipped with solar panels, according to a building code regulation adopted today by the state's Energy Commission in a 5-0 vote.

In addition, new ventilation requirements will apply to new homes and healthcare facilities.

The proposal before the commission seems to address one of the state's most pressing issues - reducing greenhouse gas emissions - while exacerbating, at least in the short run, another: the increasingly high cost of housing. The commission estimates that 117,000 single family homes and 48,000 multi-family units will be constructed in California in 2020.

"Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid", Andrew McAllister, a member of the commission, said in a statement.

New home builds account for about one percent of the state's total residences per year, according to Delforge, so don't expect to see swaths of solar panels popping up on roofs across the state just yet.

But Republican legislative leaders argue Californians can't afford to pay any more for housing in the state's already extremely expensive market.

This would make California the first state to implement this sort of requirement.

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The new requirement, to take effect in two years, brings solar power into the mainstream in a way it has never been until now.

Furthermore, the CEC estimates that for residential homeowners, the standards could add an additional $40 to an average monthly payment (based on a 30-year mortgage).

The move still needs backing from the state's building standards commission.

There are still significant upfront costs of requiring the solar panels on rooftops of new homes.

As explained in a blog from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the policy, which is the first of its kind in the US, "will combine rooftop solar panels with enough energy efficiency measures like insulation and better windows" - in turn, bringing the building to net-zero electricity. But as per the expert's view, this extra investment done while building new homes will be recovered as there will be saving on energy bills for a lifetime. However, the city of San Francisco already requires all buildings below ten stories to be equipped with solar panels, following the action of smaller towns like Lancaster and Sebastopol.

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. "(In) California, we do believe in climate change, we do believe in facts ...

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