Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

California demands solar on new homes

California demands solar on new homes

Last week, after rumors and speculation had all but confirmed it, the California Energy Commission (CEC) announced that it would approve changes to the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards which would mandate all new residential buildings - including new homes, condos, and apartment buildings - be built with solar PV installations of some sort, or tap into a community solar project.

During the recent voting, the California Energy Commission voted 5-0 in favour of the legislation under which it will be mandatory for all new houses and buildings - up to three storeys - to install solar panels by 2020.

"They will cost less to operate, have healthy indoor air and provide a platform for "smart" technologies that will propel the state even further down the road to a low emissions future", McAllister said. The ventilation measures are created to improve indoor air quality, protecting homeowners from air pollution originating from outdoor and indoor sources. But the returns of energy savings in the form of cost savings would be much more.

In addition to requiring solar panels, both resident and commercial buildings would have updated attic insulation standards and commercial buildings would have stiffer lighting standards. They would still have to draw some of their electricity from the power grid.

California, the most populous state, with almost 40 million people, has positioned itself as the nationwide leader on clean energy, pushing for more electric vehicles on the roads and lower emissions from homes and commercial buildings.

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Now the solar industry installs on average 15,000 solar panels on new homes in the state annually, or less than 20%, according to the industry group.

But Republican legislative leaders argue Californians can not afford to pay any more for housing in what is already an extremely expensive market.

About 117,000 new single-family homes and 48,000 multi-family units will be built in 2020, the commission estimates.

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

The new building standards would result in a four-fold increase in the number of homes with solar panels, according to the California Solar + Storage Association. "Now, California is taking bold leadership again, recognizing that solar should be as commonplace as the front door that welcomes you home".

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