Friday, December 14, 2018

California Mandates Solar Power in New Homes

california sun
California announced a new mandate that requires
all homes built after 2019 to be solar powered.

Last week, California became the first state in the nation to require homes built after 2019 to be solar powered. The new provisions finalize a previous vote from the California Energy Commission and brings the state closer to its goal to make clean energy more accessible.

The rule applies to all newly built single-family homes and multifamily homes of three stories or fewer. Although the vote was passed unanimously, the commission received about 300 letters from California citizens opposing the mandate.

Most of the opposition came from concerns about the cost to homeowners. Although energy officials estimate that the new mandate will add $10,000 to the cost of building a single-family home, homeowners would see savings from their lower utility bills. Homeowners could expect savings of up to $500 a year with solar panels.

Another concern was that the mandate would make it harder for California wildfire victims to rebuild However, homeowners will have two options to eliminate the upfront cost of adding solar to their new home: leasing the solar panels or signing a power purchase agreement that pays for the electricity without buying the panels.

For contractors and developers, the mandate is a little more complicated. The task of building affordable homes that still comply with the new mandate can be challenging. However, the mandate allows for community-shared solar options, or a system that uses off-site solar farms to send energy to homes via transmission lines. These community-shared options require more in-depth planning, but could save both homeowners and developers a lot of money.

Both contractors and prospective homeowners must find a compromise before the mandate goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Still, industry experts are excited about the change as it can bring California closer to it's goal of sustainable design for all.

"Solar was always considered a luxury item in the past. Now it's going to be a necessity," Dan Spiegal, president of Santa Monica-based DMS Contractors, said in a recent press release.

To learn more about the mandate, visit the California Energy Commission website. To learn more about solar power training and how to get involved in this exciting field, visit Zack Academy.

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