05-18-18 | Legislation
California Requires Solar Panels in New Residential Structures
California Requires Solar Panels in New Residential Structures


Solar paneled houses will become the norm in 2020, impacting the state's energy efficiency and costs.

A new California solar mandate has followed the solar panel tariffs President Trump implemented in January ( On May 9, 2018, the California Energy Commission unanimously voted to require solar panels for most new homes and condo complexes and apartment buildings, three-stories or less, effective 2020. The law has one exception: homes that are shaded. California is currently building 113,000 housing units a year; about 15% of those have solar panel on the roof.

Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the University of California, Berkeley, believes it would be more economical for the state to mandate larger solar farms instead of the residential sector. Other people have explored some of the benefits and consequences of the mandate required in residential structures. How will it impact homebuilders and homeowners?

• Energy-efficient
• Slow down gas emissions and reduce pollution from California's homes and buildings
• Keep homes more comfortable during heat waves
• Lower customer bills: According to the CEC, $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs will be saved over 30 years.

• Cost of buying a house will increase: CEC asserts that the cost of constructing a new home will increase by about $9,500.
• Homeowners may not want solar panels
• Smaller homebuilders will have a harder time working with these standards compared to other homebuilders who have already been using solar panels

California has taken their solar power efforts to a level that no other state has yet pursued. "You can bet 49 other states will be watching to see what happens here in California," says Robert Raymer, technical director and social engineer for the California Building Industry Association.

Note: The California Energy Commission was established in 1974, and the commissioners are appointed for 5-year terms. The commissioners consist of engineers, scientists, attorneys, and economists. One such commissioner is David Hochschild who was involved in the field of solar energy since 2001, co-founded the Vote Solar Initiative to promote solar policies, launched a program to put solar panels on public buildings, and was the executive director of a national organization of solar manufacturers and worked for Solaria, a solar company in Silicon Valley.

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