In a giant leap that could catapult solar power from a boutique alternative to a mainstream energy source, California has become the first state in the United States to mandate solar panels on all single-family homes and low-rise apartments built after 2020. The rule will apply to all new single-family homes and multi-family residential buildings that are three stories or under.
The ‘Golden State’ has already earned a reputation for pushing the boundaries when it comes to going green, by imposing energy-efficiency standards for homes since the 1970s and instituting an economy-wide program to curb greenhouse gases. The step to mandate solar panels on homes is another great move towards generating clean, carbon-free energy and is sure to set an example for many other states and countries across the globe.
Why is this a step in the right direction?
The move is a laudable step to curb greenhouse gas emissions, considering the fact that the buildings constitute the second largest source of greenhouse gases in the state, behind only transportation. The innovative solar powered systems offer consumers a cost-efficient and cleaner alternative for meeting their energy needs while lowering their utility bills and creating job opportunities for many people by putting thousands of electricians, laborers and steel workers to work.
How is the move going to affect home buyers?
According to the California Energy Commission, installing a solar unit and complying with other energy-efficiency measures will add about $9,500 to the cost of a new home and $40 to monthly mortgage payments. This step might not go down well with some home buyers since they might find themselves forced to pay more for solar system installation, but there are a good number of residents who support the move and see it as a great opportunity, in the long run, to trim their energy bills, saving them approx. $80 a month. The residents will have their own supply of free, uninterrupted solar power from the day they move in! A wonderful idea, indeed.
Why is California’s Solar Industry all Smiles?
California’s solar industry had a rough patch in 2017. The rainy season was longer than expected and the state regulatory changes did some damage. The latest move would provide a great boost to the state’s solar industry, which saw a bad time last year after years of rapid growth.
Other states to follow the lead?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, other US states, like Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have also considered legislation to require new buildings to have solar panels installed. In fact, Hawaii is one of the states to make energy-efficiency measures, like solar water heaters, mandatory in the state.
The implications for policies such as these range from economic savings, job creation, energy resiliency, energy independence, emissions reductions and more. At times like these, it is great to see a state so progressive with its clean energy goals.
by Ajay Narayan