Federal research says California solar mandate could increase housing prices

Sergio Conner
May 16, 2018

Last Wednesday, the California Energy Commission adopted building standards that, pending approval by the California Building Standards Commission, will require solar photovoltaic systems on newly constructed residential buildings in the state starting in 2020.

The move was meant to help cut energy use in new homes by over 50% and is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 115,000 cars off the roads.

California's move to require new homes in the state to have solar panels from 2020 will have a positive net impact on residential solar installations of almost 650 MW from 2020 through 2023. In California, building codes and energy efficiency standards are updated every three years.

"This is an undeniably historic decision for the state and the US California has always been our nation's biggest solar champion, and its mass adoption of solar has generated huge economic and environmental benefits, including bringing tens of billions of dollars of investment into the state", said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. The price of solar has dropped dramatically in recent years.

Clean energy projects in the country are set to gain in terms of cost savings on land acquisition and evacuation infrastructure under the National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy. Construction groups, solar manufacturers, and public utilities and other industry groups in the state have expressed support for the move.

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"That's just going to drive the cost up and make California, once again, not affordable to live", Assemblyman Brian Dahle, the chamber's GOP leader, said Tuesday. If the standards had been implemented at the beginning of 2017, given the state's single-family housing starts of around 60,000, new installations would have increased 30% after accounting for solar systems installed on roughly 20% of new homes, per Moody's.

The regulations include exceptions for when solar panels aren't cost-effective or feasible, such as on a home shrouded in shade.

China is home to 65 per cent of the world's solar jobs, and 43 per cent of all renewable energy jobs.

California is the largest residential solar market in the nation. More than 5 million homes in the state use solar power, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

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