Solar Required for New CA Homes Starting in 2020

Last week I was interviewed by reporter Melissa Mecija of News 10 San Diego regarding a new solar power law in California that will require solar equipment to be installed with every newly constructed home in California. The interview can be viewed here. Although the law does not become effective until Jan 1, 2020, some developers are selling homes now mandating that purchasers buy or lease the solar equipment.

The California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) approved the new solar power law that requires houses built in the state from 2020 to include rooftop solar panels. The eight members of the CBSC voted unanimously to write the new requirement into the state’s building code, making California the first US state to make it obligatory for solar energy to be installed in single-family and multi-family dwellings, as well as condos and apartment buildings up to three stories.

California home buyers will have the option of either paying for solar panels outright, leasing them, or entering a power purchase agreement with developers. Another option is for communities to “pool resources” instead of installing solar on individual homes.

Not surprising, the new solar power law is being met with criticism. A University of California Berkeley business school associate professor told CNBC News that “We already have some of the highest electricity rates in the country, and this will only be exacerbated by this mandate. As more and more rooftop solar gets installed, that pushes the cost onto all the non-solar customers.”

The CBSC predicts that mandatory solar panel installations and other new improvements will add nearly $10,000 in the upfront cost of a home — a cost that officials say will balance out over time, due to lower electricity bills.

According to the Commission, new homes that are built under these standards are expected to use 53 percent less energy than the Commission’s 2016 standards.

Click here to review the new standards and solar power law.