California Unanimously Votes To Require All New Homes Have Solar Panels

The Golden State moves forward with a wide-ranging renewable energy initiative.

California enacts solar power mandate on hew homes
Diyana Dimitrova / Shuttterstock

The Golden State moves forward with a wide-ranging renewable energy initiative.

All new homes in California must come equipped with solar panels, according to a building code regulation adopted today by the state’s Energy Commission in a 5-0 vote. With this action, California becomes the first state in America to mandate solar panels as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The regulation is the culmination of 10 years’ worth of consultations between state regulators and industry groups such as California Building Industry Association,which apparently deemed the mandate inevitable and generally supported it in its final form. No industry group registered opposition at this point.

An official with the CBIA indicated that the organization would have preferred a postponement of the policy for several more years, however. The same official also acknowledged that adoption of the new standards is equivalent to a “quantum leap.”

The regulation does not take effect immediately and must also obtain the approval of the state’s Building Standards Commission, AP explained, an action which presumably is likely.

The Hill provides an estimate of the costs involved in implementing this form of renewable energy.

“The changes, which would go into effect in 2020, are expected to cost home-builders between $8,000 and $12,000 per house, but the commission says it will also save homeowners about $80 a month on heating, cooling and lighting bills.”

Several other states have considered similar measures, so it remains to be seen if California will be a trendsetter for the rest of the nation. In a law already on the books with a year 2030 deadline, 50 percent of California’s electricity must be derived from non-carbon-producing sources.

With regard to the solar panel mandate, “Republican legislative leaders said Californians can’t afford to pay any more for housing in the state’s already expensive market,” Fox News reported. “The solar panel decision is just the latest example of what critics see as the state’s ever-evolving nanny-state policies,” Fox added.

The CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Assocation described the new policy as historic and commended California for its bold leadership in moving toward mass adoption of this form of renewable energy technology which will yield significant benefits both economically and for the environment. In the alternative, a homebuilder told the Orange County Register that the additional costs in play would make homes less affordable for many buyers.

The solar panel mandate is estimated to apply to a 2020 inventory of about 100,000 new single-family homes and 48,000 multi-family homes in California. “The regulations include exceptions when solar panels aren’t feasible — such as on a home shrouded in shade — or cost effective,” AP noted. The commission also estimates that the new regulation could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 700,000 metric tons by 2023.