Calif. Agency Approves Solar Panels For All New Homes

Alicia Farmer
May 10, 2018

The California Energy Commission voted 5-0 to approve the measure, which also applies to multifamily buildings of three stories or fewer. The combination of rooftop solar and the option to add energy storage systems as an efficiency compliance credit provides builders with an attractive, cost-effective option to fully electrify homes. And the plan has drawn generally positive reviews from the construction industry.

"Adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap in statewide building standards", said Robert Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association. "It is my hope and belief that when other states, many of which are developing rapidly growing solar markets of their own, see the benefits of this policy, they will develop similarly aggressive policies".

About SEIA®: Celebrating its 44 anniversary in 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the US solar energy industry, which now employs more than 260,000 Americans.

Some conservatives were not so enthusiastic, noting that the state already has some of the nation's most expensive housing markets.

Already, the news has been a boon for solar developers such as Sunrun, Vivint Solar and First Solar.

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In San Francisco, only 12 percent of households can afford a median-priced home, according to a recent report by Paragon Real Estate Group. Less than 20% of homes built in the state now include the panels. But, she adds, the new standards will cut energy use by more than half, and homeowners can expect to save about $80 per month in energy costs over the course of a 30-year mortgage.

The rule will take effect in January 2020. The construction costs are steep, but could be outweighed by the amount the solar panels could save in utilities costs.

Abigail Ross, CEO of the national Solar Energy Industries Association, said solar prices in the state have fallen by more than 50% in the last five years.

California has set a goal of all residential buildings being 'zero net energy, ' meaning they produce as much energy as they consume.

Rachel Golden, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club's My Generation clean energy campaign, said the plan is encouraging but that the focus must include reducing gas emissions from buildings.

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