Solar Panels Now Required On New Homes In California

The California Building Standards Commission has just approved a mandate that states that all new residential construction starting January 1, 2020 must include solar panels.

While many news outlets covered this story, was the primary source used for this post.

Originally proposed back in May by the commission’s Green Buildings Standards Code, the mandate has just passed with a unanimous vote. The rule will apply to all new condos, apartment buildings, and houses. Exceptions will be buildings that are higher than three stories and ones that are often shaded or where space is limited.

California solar mandate
(Photo by Will Lester- The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Kent Sasaki, one of the commissioners interviewed stated, “These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country. It’s the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.”

It is estimated that solar panel installations will cost an average of $10,000 per build.  However, this investment will be more than offset by savings from long term solar power generation, which will be approximately $19,000 on average. These figures were obtained from Drew Bohan, the executive director of the energy commission. Mr. Bohan also mentioned – “With extreme weather events becoming more frequent, there is even greater need for homes that are efficient, reliable, and resilient.”

For those future California homeowners concerned about a lack of options or decision making control, that has been considered. Options to purchase the panels outright, lease them, or enter into a power purchase agreement will be made available. In some cases, homeowners will be able to pool resources together instead of installing solar on every single home. This is basically the “community solar” idea that has already been implemented in cities across the country. Those potentially concerned about costs should know that many industry groups are also supportive of this new solar mandate.

This mandate will not be surprising to many, as California continues to be a leader in clean energy adoption. In fact, this proposal will go along way in helping the state meet its goal of being completely renewable energy powered by 2045.

Savvy homebuyers will choose to purchase their solar panels. Many should be able to add the costs into their mortgage. The financials should be about the same if a separate loan is needed. Either way, the solar savings are quite a few thousand more compared to leasing or power purchase agreements.