New Solar Panel Regulation
A new law, that was greatly debated throughout the winter months in California, was just passed into state legislation requiring all new home construction in the state to be fitted with solar panels producing renewable energy. This new building standard is considered bold – even a “quantum leap” by Robert Raymer, a technical director for the California Building Industry Association.
A Leader in Clean Energy
California has positioned itself to be a leader nationwide in clean energy, and this initiative is reflective of the state’s movement toward cleaner, renewable energy dependence. The legislation will require solar panels to be installed on most new homes built after January 2020. California is the first state in the nation to require solar installation on most single-family homes and multi-family residential buildings up to three stories. The idea is that if homes are already built with the panels, they will become less dependent on the community electric grid, thereby reducing emissions.
Why A Debate?
At first glance, the idea is appealing. Green energy, lower emissions, savings on an electric bill — all packages up for a new homeowner. And those, undoubtedly, are some of the advantages that drove the Energy Commission to unanimously pass the initiative. However, these benefits come at a cost.
First, the minimum amount of solar power required by the new standards would not be enough to meet all the needs of a new home. Homeowners would still have to draw a notable percentage of their energy from the local energy grid.
Second, a cost comes to having panels installed on the roofs of new homes. The Energy Commission estimated that solar panels would boost construction costs by about $9,500 for a single-family home. However, many legislative leaders argue that the California housing market is already so expensive, a typical Californian family won’t be able to afford to purchase new homes. The increased cost of the home will make homeownership nothing more than a pipe-dream and cost-prohibitive in a saturated market.
Most solar companies are going to be celebrating initiatives that promote increased awareness and use of solar energy. However, much of the solar voice supporting the initiative is Sunrun, a company that has many corporate relationships with new homebuilders and are predicted to take over the new home market share in California. Although we believe in healthy competition, homeowners are put at a notable disadvantage.
Once a homeowner goes into contract on their new homes, Sunrun installs the panels. As the article has already explained, most systems will be much smaller than the household needs. When they start to explore options to expand their system, they will find Sunrun is the only company that they can contract with due to the previously installed systems.
The Solar Perspective
Although legislation is new, we have read very little commentary on the negative impact this will have on families and their abilities to truly manage their electricity usage and their solar dependence. It also takes away from their power of choice. Most consumers demand their rights in choosing which companies they want to purchase from. A major solar conglomerate who takes over the new homebuilder’s contracts might mean that homeowners choose not to buy a new build home or get stuck with a solar product they were not truly interested in getting. It is a sticky place and one that has not fully been explored.
Our opinion is that transitioning our communities into solar powered communities is a great one. The greater our dependence is on renewable energy, the greater our environment is. However, we believe that homeowners should get to choose when they go solar and with the solar manufacturer, installer and monitoring company that most aligns with their needs and demands as consumers.
For further information regarding the passing of this new solar legislation, please comment, email or stop by our showroom in Historic Downtown Brentwood.