California May Become First State to Mandate Solar on New Homes

California Just Became the First State to Require Solar Panels on New Residential Construction

California regulator OKs solar panels mandate for new homes

Getty ImagesLuminalt solar installers Pam Quan (L) and Walter Morales (R) install solar panels on the roof of a home on May 9, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

The California Building Industry Association supports the solar panel requirement after years of working with the energy commission to refine it, said Robert Raymer, the association's technical director.

"The combination of rooftop solar and the option to add energy storage systems as an efficiency compliance credit provides builders with an attractive, cost-effective option to fully electrify homes", Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement.

In a prior boost for solar, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had approved its net metering 2.0 rate design in January 2016, to the chagrin of the state's investor-owned utilities.

The California Energy Commission is expected to change a building code Wednesday that would require all new homes be equipped with the renewable energy technology, the Times reported.

Solar companies cheered the move, saying they hoped such requirements would one day be adopted in other states, too.

The Associated Press reports the state's energy commission estimates that it would add $10,500 in construction costs for a single family dwelling, but generate $16,000 in energy savings. And they include efforts to increase battery storage and increase use of electricity over natural gas.

Representatives of the construction, utility and solar industries all helped develop the new standard, and no industry groups spoke in opposition Wednesday.

But Republican legislative leaders argue Californians can't afford to pay any more for housing in the state's already extremely expensive market.

The regulations include exceptions when solar panels aren't feasible - such as on a home shrouded in shade - or cost effective.

Some critics, though, question the wisdom of the transition to solar at a time when California is struggling with a dire housing crisis and skyrocketing housing costs.

'This is a step, a very important step, in a long trajectory that we have been planning for and telling the world, ' said Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister.

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