California Energy Commission approves standards mandating solar power on new homes

The California Energy Commission voted unanimously to recommend energy-efficiency standards set to be added to state building regulations later this year that will make California the first state in the U.S. to require solar panels on new homes, according to The requirement will apply to single-family homes and to apartment and condominium complexes as high as three stories obtaining building permits after Jan. 1, 2020.

As the costs of solar installations have improved, they have been included in more than 15,000 homes built each year in California even without the directive from the state. With the new standard, that number is expected to increase to 80,000—the number of homes built each year in California.

The average estimated cost of a solar system is $9,500, or $40 per month over a 30-year mortgage; however, the systems are projected to save customers an average of $80 per month on their utility bills.

There are some acceptable alternatives or exceptions—for example, if structures are shaded by other buildings or trees or if a roof is too small to accommodate solar panels. The new standards offer compliance credits for builders who install batteries such as Tesla's Powerwall, which would allow them to cut the size of their solar systems.

The solar panel rule next goes before the California Building Standards Commission, which typically adopts recommendations from the energy commission; the group is expected to address the rule in October or November.

Date : May 10, 2018