California Mandates Solar Panels for All New Homes Built After 2020

Robyn Valdez
May 10, 2018

Starting in 2020, almost all new single-family homes and low-rise apartment buildings built in California must have solar power, state authorities ruled Wednesday.

By the commission's own estimates, this will increase the cost of the average new home by $10,500-in a state where the median home price already stands at roughly $529,460, according to the California Association of Realtors. Namely, repeal restrictive land use laws that exclusively zone whole swaths of California's cities for energy-hungry single-family homes, as opposed to more energy efficient multi-family homes and apartment buildings.

The approved requirement is expected to give a strong lift to California's already hot solar market.

Even as California regulators are poised to require solar panels on virtually all new homes, few prospective homebuyers have the amenity on their wish lists.

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The new rules, which will take full effect in two years, will add thousands of dollars to the construction and maintenance of new homes, but leaders in Sacramento say that the effort will be worth the costs. The OC Register notes that homebuilders could make solar systems smaller if they install a stationary battery on the house.

The final building code will be adopted in early to mid-2019 and become effective for all new homes and buildings receiving permits after January 1, 2020.

But the California Building Industry Association, which supports the initiative, acknowledged that while the installation costs will be passed on to consumers as part of a home purchase, the cost will be offset by lowered energy costs over the term of a mortgage. "The regulations include exceptions when solar panels aren't feasible - such as on a home shrouded in shade - or cost effective", AP noted.

"Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid", said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency. The current standards offer a solar-only credit, allowing for a trade off between solar power and energy efficiency. Meanwhile, non-residential dwellings will achieve energy savings of 30%, the Energy Commission estimates. "California's affordability problem is making it more and more hard for people to afford to live here". The commission also says people will save about $80 a month on their utility bills.

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"It will add to the price of the home", Durocher said.

California has pursued a wide-ranging list of policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The new building standard - unanimously approved by the five-member California Energy Commission - would be the first such statewide mandate in the nation.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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