California is said to be on the cusp of making solar power a standard requirement for every new home built in the state.
On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission is set to vote on new standards that would insist most new homes come equipped with solar panels, starting in 2020.
Should the proposal be approved, the state would see the number of solar panel installations skyrocket. At present, just 15 to 20 percent of new homes in the state are fitted with solar panels, according to California Building Industry Association technical director Bob Raymer.
“California is about to take a quantum leap in energy standards,” Raymer told The Mercury News. “No other state in the nation mandates solar, and we are about to take that leap.”
There’s good reason to think the requirement will become law across the whole state, as a number of Californian cities already insist on solar power being installed in new homes. Fremont and San Francisco for example have both mandated that solar panels are built into all new single-family and multifamily homes. In 2016, Fremont also mandated new residential and commercial developments be “EV ready,” which means having a specialized outlet built into the home that can charge electric vehicles.
Should the proposal be approved on Wednesday, most homes, condos and apartment buildings up to three stories in the state that obtain permits after January 1, 2020, will be required to install solar panels. However, some homes would be exempt if they’re built in areas that are heavily shaded by trees, or if their roofs are too small to accommodate the panels.
One drawback for buyers is that solar panels would increase the costs of buying a new home. Typical solar panel installations cost around $14,000 to $16,000, and these costs could be increased by further mandates for increased insulation and more energy efficient windows and appliances.
In all, the total costs for these updates could add an extra $25,000 to $30,000 on the cost of a median home. However experts say homeowners would still be better off in the long run, as it would reduce the operating costs of a home by around $50,000 to $60,000 over the 25-year lifecycle of a home solar power system.