California, Leading the Country In Clean Energy, Requires New Homes To Have Solar in 2020


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Googleplex rooftops and car parks blanketed with solar cells (attribution: Steve Jurvetson, presented at:

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Today, California has become the first U.S. state to require solar panels on nearly all new homes and low-rise apartment buildings, starting in 2020. The California Energy Commission voted 5 to 0 to approve the new building standard/requirement that residential buildings up to three stories, including single-family homes and condos, be built with solar panels installations starting in 2020.  About 117,000 new single-family homes and 48,000 multi-family units will be built in 2020. The commission endorsed this requirement after building representatives, utilities, and solar manufacturers and advocates voiced their support. It still needs the final approval from California’s Building Standards Commission (which usually adopts the energy panels’s recommendations when updating the state’s building codes). This is California’s latest step to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The technical director for the California Building Industry Association Robert Raymer called it a “quantum leap.”This requirement would only be applied to newly constructed homes, although many homeowners are choosing to install rooftop solar panels with help from various rebate programs. The California Energy Commission estimated that adding solar panels would boost construction costs by $9,500 for a single-family home but save homeowners about $19,000 in energy cost and other expenses over 30 year period. The price of solar has dropped dramatically in recent years, therefore, it is a no-brainer that it is cost effective for all homeowners to install solar. The  amount of solar power required by the new standards is minimal and not enough to meet all the energy needs of most homes, therefore, most homes would still have to draw some of their power use from the power grid.

The regulations exempts solar panels installations when it is not cost-effective or feasible (such as for homes shrouded in shade). Community solar generation would be an option for such circumstances.

According to SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), California is already the nation’s leader in solar installation, with more than 5 million homes in the state using solar power. California has set the goal of all residential buildings being “zero net energy”, meaning producing as much energy as they consume. California has positioned itself as the leader for clean energy in USA, pushing more electric vehicles on the roads and lower emissions from homes and commercial buildings.

California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister said, “This is a step, a very important step, in a long trajectory that we have been planning for and telling the world….This is not a radical departure. It’s a step in the right direction to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and improve our air, which for many, many decades California has been doing better and better each time.”

Perhaps it is high time for rest of the 49 states to also follow the California lead, for it is both economical and environmentally friendly for homeowners to install solar.


Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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