California is soon set to become the first state in the United States to mandate solar cells in every home. The California Energy Commission approved the building standards and said that newly-constructed houses should all have provisions to install solar panels. Starting from single-family residences to multiple-family apartments, this new law applies to all homes that are now under construction. This is a historic decision passed by the California Energy Commission as an effort to improve the state’s effort in combating climate change.

California Energy Reduction Goals

CaliforniaCalifornia has long been one of the states that actively participated in energy reduction programs. This change in the solar panel law is another example of how the state prioritizes energy reduction for a greener environment in the future. David Hochschild, the commissioner and also the person to pass the law said that it is time that Californians stay in homes that are not equivalent to gas guzzlers. This bold and visionary step is a welcome change and is an example of what other states should do.

California now has a goal of cutting emissions to almost 1990 levels by the end of 2020. They want to introduce the concept of “net energy zero” with solar panels in California in every new house. So, the idea is not to consume more energy than what the state can produce. This initiative led to the recent change in the laws of the state.

The Consequences

Although everyone is ecstatic about the fact that California is now working its way to a greener environment, there are many people opposing the law also. They think that the housing costs will go up significantly in the state, especially in the places that already have a sky high real estate price. Some of the researchers also came up with a calculation that the new law for solar mandate will add almost $9500 to every single-family residential home. The price will go up if it is a multiple-family apartment.

However, the commission came up with a logical explanation to combat this idea. They agreed that the initial real estate costs will increase to some extent, but the energy reduction savings in the long run will more than make up for what people invest now. The commission said that an average single-family residential home can save more than $19000 on energy bills. So, what seems like a sudden surge in price will only help to save money in the future.

Understanding the Law in Detail

Starting from 2020, any new person who wants to buy a new house in California will have two options: enter into a power purchase agreement that the developer has or pay upright for the solar panels by leasing them. This decision was agreed upon in the light of the fact that many people may not have the additional $9500 upfront. So, they now have an option to bypass that expense and sign the power purchase agreement.

Solar Panel InstallerThere is another option, but that solely relates to communities. Instead of installing solar panels on individual homes, the communities can pool their resources. This will help to save almost similar amount of energy every month as solar cells.

The executive director of the California Energy Commission, Drew Bohan, also mentioned a few points regarding the increase in property prices after the change in the solar panel laws. It is true that new homes will cost almost $10000 more than before, homeowners will have a chance to save that money in the long run. The math is simple. Usually, people in California take a 25-year or 30-year mortgage while purchasing a new house. Bohan said that families will be able to save more than $19000 over the course of this mortgage period.

He also mentioned about the fact that extreme weather conditions have become more frequent in California. This is another reason why the commission wanted to finalize the solar panel laws. They believe it will make homes more efficient, resilient, and reliable. Bohan went on to indicate that this is just the beginning of cost cutting in energy bills. He promised that the commission will take measures to make sure that they can bring down the overall price of houses down so that they become more affordable to residents.

2017 was a year that saw a slump in the use of solar cells in California. It affected the business of hundreds of solar panel manufacturers and installers. However, the new law has now brought back their hopes of reviving their business. Although the solar mandate law will have an immediate impact on the price of the houses, affecting agents, real estate developers, and buyers, a significant group in the real estate industry supported this law wholeheartedly.

Bringing the Change

There are hundreds of houses in California that still use natural gas to produce electricity. This law will finally allow these houses to welcome the change and shift to using solar panels instead of consuming natural gas. The commission hopes that non-solar Californians will soon get used to this law although they might run into a few electrical disturbances initially. The board members also said in a press conference that they would try to make sure that solar cell manufacturers don’t charge a high amount during this time.

Although the California Energy Commission has unanimously passed the law, they still need to approve it from the California Building Standards Commission. Most of the board members believe that the Building Standards Commission will vote in their favor because the state has long wanted to reduce its carbon emissions.

While most countries are still in a dilemma whether they should use solar cells or not, California emerged as the first state to make them compulsory for new houses. The Governor of the state, Jerry Brown believes that California can derive electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2030. However, this will only be possible if all the residents are on the same page when it comes to using solar cells in their houses and properties.

Map image by Wikimedia Commons User: TUBS / CC-BY-SA-3.0