California has yet to shy away from its fight for renewable energy dependence. After being one of the first states to reject the White House’s disavowal of the Paris Agreement, the Golden State has now put its money where its mouth is. On Wednesday May 9, the California Energy Commission voted to approve new housing standards that requires all new homes built within the state to be installed with solar panels. The new standards will take effect in two years.
“This adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap,” Bob Raymer, senior engineer for the California Building Industry Association, said during the public comments before the vote. “You can bet every state will be watching to see what happens.”
The unanimous vote showed the determination by state officials to take energy efficiency seriously across the region. This despite evidence that the enforcement of the new standards will increase home prices amidst a lack of affordable housing afflicting citizens. While many California cities have already put into effect similar mandates for new buildings or commitments to 100 percent clean energy, this is the the most consequential decision yet to come out of Sacramento.
The change comes at a time when California stands out as the national leader in installed solar capacity with over 16 percent of state electricity coming from solar and the industry itself employing over 86,000 workers. It is clear that the purpose of the updated building codes is to continue moving businesses and homes away from centralized power toward independent grids powered by self-generating energy.
According to The New York Times, “Under the new requirements, builders must take one of two steps: make individual homes available with solar panels, or build a shared solar-power system serving a group of homes. In the case of rooftop panels, they can either be owned outright and rolled into the home price, or made available for lease on a monthly basis.”
The mandate is expected to increase California new home prices by $7,000 to $12,000. Based on a 30-year mortgage, a new home buyer can expect to spend an additional $40 per month, but save a total of $80 per month in utilities such as heating, cooling, and lighting. With nearly 80,000 new homes constructed per year in California, the installation of solar panels statewide will increase by 44 percent.
With California currently over producing energy due to the immense impact of renewable generation, the energy independence provided by utilizing solar energy could very well set the state up to help other states that may lack the immediate natural resources to produce the same level of power.
“We’ve been working towards it,” said Ram Narayanamurthy, technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group that does research for the nation’s power companies. “What we think we will see is greater and greater efficiency.”
Source: The New York Times