California's Big Bet on Sunshine

  • California's Big Bet on Sunshine

California's Big Bet on Sunshine

The California Energy Commission recently voted unanimously to adopt building standards that require all new homes to have solar panels as part of the energy council's 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards that focus on four key areas-smart residential photovoltaic systems, updated thermal envelope standards, residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential lighting requirements.

Sully Sullivan from the Big Biz Show joined Good Morning San Diego to discuss the new mandate by the state of California requiring solar panels on new homes. It comes as the state's latest step to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. But the group's technical director, Robert Raymer, said that overall the BIA supports the effort, calling it "a quantum leap in statewide building standards".

"You can bet every other of the 49 states will be watching closely to see what happens", he said.

In the long-term, building more homes - soon with solar panels - could drive down living costs in the Golden State. It came despite estimates it would raise the up-front cost of a new home by almost $10,000 in one of the most expensive parts of the country. At least seven cities in the state already have solar mandates of one form or another on new buildings, including San Francisco. Utilities have argued that too many customers moving away from getting their electricity from the grid could threaten their business model - and eventually their ability to provide reliable power. The move is part of a larger goal in the state to reduce emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

"We can not let Californians be in homes that are essentially the residential equivalent of gas guzzlers", Commissioner David Hochschild said ahead of the vote.

"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.

The new rule will be applied to residential buildings three stories high - this includes single-family buildings and condos, but exceptions apply to shady homes.

However, those homes where solar power is not feasible or cost effective, such as those located entirely under shade, will be offered exemptions. Installing storage batteries or allowing community-shared solar generation are available options.

The initial estimates are that the electricity bill will be reduced by 19,000 dollars over a period of 30 years.

California is the first state in the U.S. to approve such a regulation.

At Arnold Schwarzenegger's time, California imposed itself on America's most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction plan.