California Makes Historic Decision to Incorporate Solar On All New Homes

SunWork Renewable Energy Projects a nonprofit solar installation company trains volunteers to install solar panels on homes in the South Bay Area. Sun Work recently completed an installation on a Sunnyvale home in February
Homebuyers' wish lists rarely include solar
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10 May, 2018

California may soon become the first state to require all new homes be built with solar panels, the New York Times reports.

The new standards represent a huge victory for green-minded Californians, but they will also increase the costs to build homes, which are already soaring nationwide and are especially high in California. The Energy Commission expects the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.4 million metric tons over three years.

The rule takes effect on January 1, 2020, and will apply to any new single-family home, apartment building, or condo that is three stories or under. For comparison, California added 858 megawatts of residential solar a year ago from 127,000 new residential solar systems.

California is the nation's leading solar market, with more than 21 gigawatts of solar installed - five times more than any other state and almost 40 percent of the total solar installed in the U.S. The solar industry has created $43 billion of investment in California's economy and employs more than 86,000 Californians, a number that will grow under this new policy.

On the other hand, while advocates for the plan admit that the costs will drive more people out of the housing market, they insist the addition of solar power will end up saving homeowners in electric costs.

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

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Backers claim the solar rules are necessary to comply with the state's stringent renewable energy mandate, which requires utilities to derive at least 50 percent of its electricity from clean sources by 2030. Gov.

However, Durocher firmly believes the state shouldn't require other home others to pay for solar equipment. 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. "This solar decision could be yet another win for America's energy independence".

"Low mortgage payments alone don't make for affordable housing", said George Koertzen, construction superintendent at Habitat for Humanity in San Joaquin County, in a statement.

While the vote was a big step forward, the proposed new standards will still have to go to the California Building Standards Commission for final consideration later this year. California's average home costs are already well above the national average thanks in part to a diminished supply - a challenge for which all six major gubernatorial candidates say they have a solution.

California, the most populous state, with almost 40 million people, has positioned itself as the nationwide leader on clean energy, pushing for more electric vehicles on the roads and lower emissions from homes and commercial buildings.


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