California takes steps to require solar panels on all new homes


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By 2020, all new homes in California will be required to have solar panels on them.

New refrigerator? Check.

New couch? Check.

New solar panels? Potentially.

On Wed. May 8, the California Energy Commission (CEC) voted 5-0 to recommend energy efficiency standards to the state building regulations, which would require solar panels to be put on all new homes built after Jan. 1, 2020. California would be the first and only state to do this.

“Homes under the new standards will use about 50 percent less energy than those under the previous 2016 standards, and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced as if 115,000 cars were taken off the road,”  said CEC spokeswoman Amber Beck, in an interview with CNN.

However, the CEC estimated that each it will add approximately $9500 to the cost of each home, in a market where many already struggle to find affordable housing.

The CEC also estimates that for residential homeowners with a 30-year mortgage, this will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling, and lighting bills.

“With home prices having risen as much as they have, I think home buyers would find it a little distasteful to be forced to pay more for solar systems that they may not want or feel like they can’t afford,” said Brent Anderson, a spokesman for homebuilder Meritage Homes Corp, in an interview with The New York Times. “Even though, in the long term, it’s the right answer.”

The next step in making this plan a reality is to get approval from California’s Building Standards Commission. The Building Standards Commission adopts the energy panel’s recommendations when updating the state’s building codes.

“This is a very bold and visionary step that we’re taking,” said David Hochschild, a member of the Energy Commission, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Despite the benefits of this move, it doesn’t come without pushback.

“That’s just going to drive the cost up and make California, once again, not affordable to live,” said Brian Dahle, the Republican leader of the California Assembly, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Overall, this shift in energy efficiency standards will benefit the environment, as well as Californian’s pocketbooks, despite the initial financial setbacks for prospective homeowners.

“This will be nothing short of historic for our state and for our country,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association, an industry group, in an interview with NBC News. “California is once again betting on the sun and putting real policy behind such a grand vision.”