California Is Set to Require Solar Power for New Homes

California Is Set to Require Solar Power for New Homes

No industry groups spoke in opposition.

"This is a very bold and visionary step we're taking today", said David Hochschild, a commission member.

Adding solar panels would boost construction costs by $9,500 for a single-family home but save owners about $19,000 in energy and other expenses over 30 years, the Energy Commission estimated. How much this hurts other users is disputed, and varies by location, but California's energy commission says it could conceivably cost other ratepayers money.

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

The new rule could add more than $10,000 to the costs of building a home, raising the price tag in what's already one of the most expensive states to purchase housing.

"As the amount of renewables on the system grows, grid operators need increased visibility into behind-the-meter resources", said Steven Greenlee, a spokesman for California Independent System Operator Corp., which runs the state's power grid.

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The code includes incentives for energy storage while mandating that the construction of new homes include advanced energy efficiency measures and rooftop solar. They would still have to draw some of their electricity from the power grid.

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.

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

"For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling, and lighting bills", said the Commission. The mandate comes at a time when California also is dealing with a housing shortage and the challenge of affordable homes statewide.

Testifying Wednesday at the commission hearing, a representative from a coalition of major gas and electricity providers, including the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, said utility companies approved of the changes, calling them cost effective and technically feasible.

California's top utility regulator warned last week of a looming energy crisis if the region doesn't start planning for a future with more people either generating their own power or getting it from suppliers besides the big utilities.

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