California becomes first state to require solar panels on new homes

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The California Energy Commission will vote on a proposal today to require all new homes and low rise apartment buildings built after 2020 to require solar panels.

In fact, the state itself generates so much solar and wind power that it must sometimes halt production at some facilities or give the electricity away to other states to avoid overloading the electric grid.

"This is an undeniably historic decision for the state and the U.S. California has always been our nation's biggest solar champion, and its mass adoption of solar has generated huge economic and environmental benefits, including bringing tens of billions of dollars of investment into the state".

California, the most populous state, with almost 40 million people, has positioned itself as the nationwide leader on clean energy, pushing for more electric vehicles on the roads and lower emissions from homes and commercial buildings.

Almost 16% of the state's electricity a year ago came from solar. They'll add incentives for buildings that have a Tesla Powerwall system for energy storage and there won't be a need for a large solar array. "If we pursue (zero net energy) as a comprehensive policy, we'd be making investments that would be somewhat out of touch with our long-term goals".

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While the move is a boost for the solar industry, critics say it will add $8K-$12K to the cost of buying a house in the state.

But Republican legislative leaders argue Californians can't afford to pay any more for housing in the state's already extremely expensive market.

The California Building Industry Association supports the solar panel requirement after years of working with the energy commission to refine it, said Robert Raymer, the association's technical director.

Utilities that objected to the new rate-design "could contend that the introduction of mandated distributed solar sufficiently alters the policy landscape to warrant further review of the compensation levels paid to excess generation", ClearView said in their report, published ahead of the energy commission's decision. Homebuilding consultant Bill Watt also notes that this would create a bigger strain on the housing market. The commission projects that home energy savings will total about $16,251 over the span of 30 years.

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