California has become the first state in the U.S. to mandate that new homes built in 2020 and after be fitted with solar panels, according to the Mercury News.
To a smattering of applause, the state Building Standards Commission voted unanimously to add energy standards approved last May by another panel to the state building code.
Two commissioners and several public speakers lauded the new code as “a historic undertaking” and a model for the nation.
“These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country,” said Kent Sasaki, a structural engineer and one of six commissioners voting for the new energy code. “(It’s) the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.”
The solar power requirement applies to all new residential buildings, including apartments, that are up to three stories high, though there are exceptions for buildings in shady areas and for times that generating solar power would cost more than the current electricity rates.
Several solar industry representatives speaking Wednesday supported the provisions, including a representative of Tesla, which builds battery storage systems for homes.
“The homeowners will be able to save money from the day they walk in the door,” said Kelly Knutsen, technology advancement director for the California Solar & Storage Association. “This is a historical policy. California is leading the country in clean energy, clean air and fighting climate change, all while saving consumers money.”
Others were less convinced of the requirement’s merits:
The solar mandate “will be costly to homeowners in California and also eliminates personal choice,” said a letter signed by Butte County Treasurer-Tax Collector Peggy Moak. Moak said the tab for installing solar panels is a lot higher than the $8,400 estimate, “running more than $25,000.”