California becomes first state to mandate solar energy for new homes

The new sunshine state! California officially becomes the first state in the U.S. to require ALL new homes to be powered by solar energy

  • Vote ensures all new homes built in California will be powered by solar energy 
  • Passed unanimously by the committee and will take effect in 2020
  • The move could cost homeowners up to $10,000 extra, causing concerns
  • Board members called the vote ‘historic’, hoping the rest of the U.S. will follow

California has become the first state in the U.S. to mandate that all new homes built in the Golden State must be solar powered, after law makers passed a historic vote on Wednesday. 

The initiative, which will come into action in 2020, has been passed unanimously by the California Building Standards Commission and will see all homes in the area equipped with more sustainable energy sources.

Members of the board declared the move as a ‘historical undertaking’ that should act as ‘a beacon of light’ for the rest of the country to follow.

Coming as a fulfillment of a 10-year initiative to make the state more reliant on clean renewable energy, the move will bring solar power into mainstream use in a way it has never been before.   

California will be the first state to adopt the motion, which will see all new homes equipped with solar energy, like this home in Corona, California (pictured on May 3)

The move will bring solar power into mainstream use in a way it has never been before, an unprecedented shift members of the board are calling ‘historic’. Solar panels are seen above on homes in Scripps Ranch, San Diego

Upholding a May 9 vote by the California Energy Commission, the Building Standards Commission’s seal of approval made the motion official on December 5.

However, despite the rapturous applause the bill’s passing was met with, there are some opposed to the new provisions because of the additional costs homeowners will now incur.  

The solar furnishings add an estimated $10,000 to the cost of building a single-family home – including more than $8,400 for installing panels and roughly $1,500 for energy efficiency. 

The added expenses come at a time when affordable housing in California is already scarce – the state’s house prices are already double the national average.  

The provisions could cost homeowners an additional $10,000, at a time when the state is already facing an affordable housing crisis. Pictured above, employees carry solar panels onto the roof of a home in Lafayette, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 15

Additional worries were also raised on behalf of the victims of last month’s devastating California wildfires, which destroyed more than 10,000 structures and left thousands of families homeless. 

The concern was that those seeking to rebuild in the wake of the disaster may not be able to afford the additional up-front charges. 

The committee however stated this wouldn’t be an issue.   

California was decimated by the most deadly wildfires in its history last month, with thousands of homes destroyed and 88 dead (Pictured: firefighters attempt to extinguish a blazing home in Malibu, California on November 9)

California homeowners will have the option to either pay the costs up front or sign a ‘power purchase agreement,’ which pays for the electricity without buying the panels, according to an official with the California Energy Commission. 

‘The homeowners will be able to save money from the day they walk in the door,’ said Kelly Knutsen, technology advancement director for the California Solar & Storage Association, to The Orange County Register.  

Knutsen added: ‘This is a historical policy. California is leading the country in clean energy, clean air and fighting climate change, all while saving consumers money.’

Officials also say the 30-year lifespan of the solar panels will offset the utility bills, helping families save up to $500 a year. 

Kent Sasaki, a structural engineer and one of six commissioners voting for the new energy code, added: ‘These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country.

‘(It’s) the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.’ 

The commission hope other states in the US will use their plan as a blueprint to adopt similar measures

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