California becomes 1st U.S. state to mandate solar for new homes

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California just became the first USA state to mandate solar panel installations on all new homes. There would also be increased requirements related to ventilation and indoor air quality. California updates its building energy efficiency standards every three years, and the state's ultimate goal is net-zero energy homes that reduces the carbon footprint of buildings and makes them effectively energy self-sufficient. "With everything happening in the country right now and President Trump's obsession with coal and the continuing strength of the oil industry, California needs to be aggressive in moving towards a clean energy future, and this is one step in that direction". The California Energy Commission hearing room was packed full on Wednesday as the commission voted unanimously in favor of the proposed rule. It is expected to support the energy commission's vote.

The new requirement will take place starting in 2020.

The Commission estimated the standards will add about $40 to monthly mortgage payments but will compensate for that by saving residents $80 a month on energy bills. They thanked the commission for involving the building industry in the drafting process.

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Just 9 percent of single-family detached homes in the state of 39.5 million people now have solar panels, according to a 2017 U.S. Department of Energy report the Energy Commission cited.

There are still significant upfront costs of requiring the solar panels on rooftops of new homes. Sunrun, however, focuses on installing solar power systems on existing homes, not new ones, according to Bloomberg.

The Times estimates that the requirements could add as much as $12,000 to the price of new homes. "It is my hope and belief that when other states, many of which are developing rapidly growing solar markets of their own, see the benefits of this policy, they will develop similarly aggressive policies".

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Before the mandate, about 15,000 new homes are built in California each year with solar installations.

A key element in crafting the new standards was to ensure that the efficiency upgrade and solar systems would be affordable to all Californians.

Andrew McAllister, a member of the Energy Commission, has said that this would be an important "part of an overall suite of reforms to reduce greenhouse gases".

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"By adopting this policy we can expand solar power throughout California, which is more crucial than ever as Donald Trump and the federal administration try to reverse all the progress we have made to combat climate change", said Wiener in a statement. "The regulations include exceptions when solar panels aren't feasible - such as on a home shrouded in shade - or cost effective", AP noted.