Earlier this month it was announced that the state of California will now require any homes built in 2020 and after to be outfitted with panels. In a historic move, the Building Standards Commission for the state voted in an unanimous decision to add this new provision to California’s already strict solar and renewable goals. Requiring all new homes in 2020 and beyond to be solar-powered is a mandate not yet seen before by any other state or organization in the United States. This is just another move in a series of steps California has taken in order to become a primary leader in solar energy utility production in the nation. 

Solar Options for Homeowners 

Beginning in 2020, homebuyers in California and those building homes in the state will have several options for implementing solar panels. Homeowners can decide to buy the solar panels upfront at cost, lease the solar panels, or enter into something known as a power purchase agreement with solar developers. Power purchase agreements are common among solar energy providers and the customers they serve. Typically, a power purchase agreement, or an electricity power agreement as it is sometimes called, will outline certain legal conditions between a customer and their solar energy service provider. Most often, non-profit organizations and other similar entities may be able to take advantage of these types of solar energy contracts in order to help reduce the cost of the solar panels overall. Additionally, homeowners may also be able to take advantage of community solar panels, instead of having to install solar panels separately to each individual home. 

Solar Cost Savings Over time 

Executive Director for the Building Standards Commission, Drew Bohan, mentioned in an interview with National Public Radio that the addition of these panels to homes in the state will save individual homeowners upwards of $19,000 over the time span of a 30-year mortgage. These savings, thanks to the solar panels, will ultimately offset the initial building and construction costs of rooftop solar panels, according to Bohan. The solar panels for new homes may add an additional $10,000 in construction costs for homes up front, but the Building Standards Commission and other California officials are confident that this investment in solar energy panels is ultimately worth it and will balance out, especially as lower energy bills over time add up in savings. 

Addressing Real Estate Market Cost Impacts 

Earlier this month, a public hearing was held where various concerns were addressed in regard to this new solar energy provision. Many wondered how it might affect the already pricey housing market. Additionally, especially in wake of the recent fires that have devastated portions of California, some questioned if solar panels becoming a requirement might hinder those in the rebuilding process due to additional and newly mandated costs. Cost savings overtime and the long-term impacts solar panels will have for homeowners over the lifespan of their homes have state and energy officials sure that this is ultimately the best possible move for the state, residents, and the housing market as a whole. Officials are determined to work together with real estate developers, industry groups, and local communities in order to help keep costs low.  

Working Towards the Bigger Picture 

Overall, support for the implementation of solar panels for new homes by 2020 has been largely supported and celebrated by environmental leaders, solar energy companies, and other renewable utility advocacy groups. This unprecedented and bold mandate will be positive for the state of California and its residents overall, as well as set a standard for other states to follow in the future. 

California has proven time and time again in recent years that solar energy utility and renewable energy are at the top of the priority list. The state’s position as a leader and example in the solar energy realm only continues to grow with each passing season. These new solar energy provisions, which require solar panels for new homes, are just a small part of a larger picture for the state of California when it comes to solar energy. These and other requirements are intended to push California closer to their ultimate goal of establishing 100 percent renewable utility by the year 2045.  

Resources:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/12/06/california-officially-adopts-solar-requirement-for-new-homes-built-in-2020-or-later/ 

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/06/674075032/california-gives-final-ok-to-requiring-solar-panels-on-new-houses 

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