California Will Require Solar Panels In New Homes By 2020


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Any new homes and apartment buildings which will be built after 2020 in California, will require the installation of solar panels. This is the first mandate nationwide and the latest step by the state to control the greenhouse gas emissions. The California Energy Commission will vote on the regulations on Wednesday which estimates that they will add an average of $10,500 in the construction for a home of a single family. However, it saves about $16,000 in the energy savings.

The standards also include requirements for ventilation and indoor air quality. California has also maintained itself as the nationwide leader on clean energy and is pushing to bring more electric vehicles on the roads and fewer emissions from residential and commercial buildings. Kelly Knutsen, director of technology advancements for the California Solar and Storage Association said, “This is going to be an important step forward for our state to continue to lead the clean energy economy.”

Some industry groups have opposed the plan after working with the commision to form the regulation.  The Republican legislative leaders said that Californians cannot afford to pay for housing in an extremely expensive market. Assemblyman Brian Dahle, the chamber’s Republican leader said, “That’s just going to drive the cost up and make California, once again, not affordable to live.” Almost 117,000 single-family homes and 48,000 multi-family home units are expected to be built in 2020.

The state updates its building codes which include energy efficiency standards, every three years. If the solar panel and ventilation standards pass, they will need approval later this year from the California Building Standards Commission. It also includes exceptions where the application of solar panels is not possible for example if a house is built in shade. Installation of storage batteries or allowing the community-shared solar generation are among the options which are available. This requirement will be applied to homes which are newly constructed. The existing ones are choosing to install solar panels seeking help from rebate programs.

The California Building Industry Association supports the solar panel requirement after years of working with the energy commission to refine it further. Robert Raymer, technical director of the association said, “On the one hand, we would prefer that this had been put off for a few more years, but the fact is that the California Energy Commission has been working on this, with us, for the past 10 years. We know this is coming, we did everything we could to push down compliance costs and increase design flexibility.”

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