Science & Technology

California requires homes built after 2020 to have solar panels

California has become the first state to require all new homes to have solar panels installed. This new requirement will take place in houses built in or after 2020. According to an article from CNBC, “The California Building Industry Association, or CBIA, estimates only 15 to 20 percent of single-family homes built today statewide have solar panel installations. Some cities in the state have solar panel rooftop mandates on buildings, including San Francisco.”

This new law is a progressive decision that faces some difficulties, like the lack of affordable housing. In 2018, the median price of a home in California is $561,020. The median price of a house in the United States is $337,200. California housing prices are at an all-time high and solar panels will add an additional $8,000 to $12,000 to the price. Newly built houses will either have individual solar panels or share a solar power system. Individual solar panels can be owned, or they can be leased monthly.

The option of leasing is considered a cost-efficient option for people who do not have extra money readily available.

Another difficulty the mandate addressed is insufficient sunlight and limited roof space for houses and buildings. A solution to that is community-shared solar or battery storage systems.

In 2019, there will be a new rate structure that will charge customaccording to the time of day they use electricity. Consumers will have a variety of energy companies to choose from with different price rates. Battery usage is encouraged because it allows energy to be stored for efficient use.

A New York Times article said, “For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills.”

Another issue faced is net-zero energy needs. This refers to a structure’s ability to produce enough electricity without having to buy it from the energy grid.

The energy commission wants solar-powered homes to have at least 2 to 3 kilowatts of electricity. TechTarget, an American marketing company, defines an energy grid — also known as an electric grid — as “a network of synchronized power providers and consumers that are connected by transmission and distribution lines and operated by one or more control centers.”

A downside to a high usage of solar power must be considered as well. Gas and electric companies do not want to be left out of plans. They still need the state to ensure that utilities can get enough revenue to operate the electric grid.

If solar power is the main source of energy for homeowners, the cost of utilities to run the electric grid will be a burden to lower-income households.

The utility industry is trying to create a system where households add electricity to the grid during the day and use the additional electricity at night.

June 27, 2018

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Shannon Hamlin


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