California becomes the first USA state to require solar panels on almost all new homes built after January 1, 2020, as part of new energy efficiency standards adopted by the California Energy Commission.
The CEC estimates the move will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 700,000 metric tons over the course of three years. About 20 percent of California's new homes are built with solar arrays and the state has held about a third of the nation's total jobs in solar since 2013, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid", said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency.
Raymer spoke before the California energy commission approved the requirement on Wednesday, alongside new regulations to improve ventilation and indoor air quality.
While there is some concern that the new standard will raise the price of homes by $8,000 to $12,000 ― a serious consideration in the state's already expensive housing market ― advocates for the carbon emissions-cutting change say it will save homeowners money in the long run. "The buildings that Californians buy and live in will operate very efficiently while generating their own clean energy".
Any new requirement like this was always going to increase the cost of construction, but the long-term benefits of a solar PV installation will well and truly offset those costs.
Energy Commission spokeswoman Amber Beck said the agency estimates that the typical monthly mortgage payment could rise by $40 as a result of a higher home prices, but increased energy efficiency will cut monthly utility bills by about $80.
"Building solar on new homes, as we've heard, is consistent with California's zero-net energy goals for new buildings", said Zadie Oleksiw with Vote Solar. Exceptions or alternatives will be allowed when homes are shaded by trees or buildings or when the home's roofs are too small to accommodate solar panels.
But builders put the costs of adding on solar to all new homes much higher. Solar systems need to be bigger - and more costly - in hotter parts of the state like the Inland Empire and the Central Valley. What could the mandate could mean for homeowners?
While California continues to produce massive amounts of oil and gas, the state's solar industry has simultaneously blossomed over the last two decades.
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.
Although unprecedented in many ways, the solar panel requirement will be incremental.