The California Energy Commission got one step closer to upholding the state’s pledge to receive all its power from renewables by 2045, ratifying a mandate this week that requires solar installations on all new homes built after 2020.
The vote has historical precedence, making California one of the first governments in the world to take such sweeping measures to encourage the use of renewable energy.
The monumental decision which the commission passed 5 to 0, Wednesday, May 9, applies to homes, condos, and apartments, only making exceptions for buildings constructed in the shade.
“Adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap in the statewide building standards,” the Wall Street Journal quoted senior engineer with the California Building Industry Association Bob Raymer. “You can bet every one of the other 49 states will be watching to see what happens.”
Currently 15 to 20% of new single-family homes in California take advantage of solar. The legislation is expected to increase the cost of building a new home to code by $9,500. However research shows the extra costs will be recouped over the life of the home due to decreased energy bills, saving owners $50,000 to $60,000 in operating expenses over a 25 year period.
New structures that are built with the mandated solar installations after 2020 would still be able to apply for the California Solar Initiative rebates. It is still unclear how hard this will impact the program’s funds that reimburses consumers based on system performance. It is likely, however, the forecasted increase in solar installments due to the legislation will exhaust the state’s incentivized rebate budget sooner than anticipated.
While such an increase in solar installations will be good news for the environment and the homeowners that profit from the rewards, it will also increase pressure on those waiting for an economically opportune time to switch to solar.