California may start requiring solar panels on new homes and low-rise apartment buildings built after 2020, the first such mandate nationwide and the state's latest step to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Together with tough new efficiency standards for windows and insulation that the commission will consider Wednesday, the solar mandate could add $10,538 to the cost of building a house, by the agency's own estimate. It will add thousands of dollars to the cost of home when a shortage of affordable housing is one of California's most pressing issues.
California is said to be on the cusp of making solar power a standard requirement for every new home built in the state.
All told, homes built in accordance with the 2019 standards should use about 53 percent less energy than those built under the existing 2016 standards.
California has taken another step toward becoming the greenest state in the US. However experts say homeowners would still be better off in the long run, as it would reduce the operating costs of a home by around $50,000 to $60,000 over the 25-year lifecycle of a home solar power system.
The commission endorsed the requirement after representatives of builders, utilities, and solar manufacturers voiced support.
Although the new solar law will likely raise new home prices initially, there is a bigger phenomenon that's contributing to higher housing prices: California isn't building enough homes to keep up with the number of people who want to live there.
The commission said in a press release the standards would lower greenhouse gas emissions as much as if around 115,000 fossil fuel cars left the streets.
"Raymer said homebuilders may be able to pass on the added costs to consumers in cooler parts of the state, where less solar will be needed", the Sun's Jeff Collins wrote. The New York Times quoted Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich as saying, "There's...this real American sense of freedom of producing electricity on my rooftop". Still, Hodd said she remained hopeful that some will adopt similar policies once leaders in those states see the benefit of California's mandate. This change would make California the only state with such a rule, SCPR reported.More news: Brad Stevens knows what's ahead of Celtics in LeBron James, Cavs