California Solar Panel Mandate Lowers Emissions by 0.32%

Eileen GuzmanMay 11, 2018

Over the same period, the state issued permits for fewer than 480,000 new residential units, or about one home for every five additional workers.

In addition to the solar mandate, the commission approved new insulation and air filter requirements for newly built homes.

"Every three years, the Energy Commission recommends updates to the state's energy efficiency building codes", SCPR's Emily Guerin reported.

The mandate will take effect January 1, 2020, and doesn't require approval by the California Public Utilities Commission or the Legislature.

An energy commission senior engineer told the commission that the new building code will cut carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30% per home, Collins reported.

"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", stated Brent Anderson, a spokesman for homebuilder Meritage Homes Corp.

The commission also voted for more energy-efficient attics, windows, and insulation.

"California estimates that the new rule will cut emissions by 1.4 million metric tons over three years, which is a small fraction of the 440 million tons the state generated in 2015", the report said.

Adding solar panels would boost construction costs by $9,500 for a single-family home but save owners about $19,000 in energy and other expenses over 30 years, the Energy Commission estimated.

"It's something that is cost-effective for the homebuyer, the homeowner and they can be cash-flow positive from day one with solar on the roof", said McCallister.

"We are first but we will not be last", said Commissioner David Hochschild after vote.

Representatives of the construction, utility and solar industries all helped develop the new standard, and no industry groups spoke in opposition of it on Wednesday.

"That's just going to drive the cost up and make California, once again, not affordable to live", Assemblyman Brian Dahle, the chamber's Republican leader, said Tuesday.

It does include exceptions when requiring solar panels isn't feasible - such as on a home shrouded in shade - or cost effective. Community-shared solar generation equipment will also be an option.

"The best way to look at this regulation is as a step, an important step, actually, that we defined more than a decade ago, part of an overall battery of reforms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions", he told for The New York Times.

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