California Energy Commission to vote on solar-required home building

State officials to vote today on requiring solar for all new homes by 2020

Instead of delivering electricity from centralized fossil fuel power plants, the primary goal of California's energy grid is now to move electricity among various distributed solar and wind power generators. Homes that are shaded by trees or taller buildings, as well as houses with roofs too small to accommodate a PV system, would be eligible for exceptions or alternatives to the mandate. For comparison, California added 858 megawatts of residential solar previous year from 127,000 new residential solar systems. It applies only to new construction.

"Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid", said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency.

The commission estimates they would add an average $10,500 in construction costs for a single-family home but generate about $16,000 in energy savings. Reflecting on the requirement, Kelly Knutsen of the trade group California Solar and Storage Association said, "This is going to be a significant increase in the solar market in California".

Solar power in California provided almost 16% of the state's electricity by the end of 2017.

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"We think it's another example of California policy preceding what will happen in other markets", Tom Werner, chief executive of San Jose-based solar company SunPower, said in an interview ahead of the decision. This calculation, conducted by the CEC, does not take into account increased energy demands or a reductions in technology costs, which could result in even greater savings over time.

California just became the first state in the country to require all new homes to be built with rooftop solar panels.

As explained in a blog from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the policy, which is the first of its kind in the US, "will combine rooftop solar panels with enough energy efficiency measures like insulation and better windows" - in turn, bringing the building to net-zero electricity.

While the new requirements aim to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions - one of the state's greatest challenges - they may worsen another problem in the short-term: the high cost of housing. The report credits California's "pioneering policies" created to cut emissions. But the panels, along with other energy efficient updates, should save homeowners money on their monthly bills.

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California has pushed for more electric vehicles on the roads and fewer emissions from residential and commercial buildings, positioning itself as the nationwide leader on clean energy, pushing.

The solar panel mandate will now go before the state building standards commission where it's expected to pass.

As member station KPCC reports, the costs and benefits of the new requirement are somewhat disputed.

Currently, California has a law that says 50% of the state's electricity should be coming from non-carbon sources by 2030. He said the rules "will save energy, lower customer bills, keep homes comfortable in increasing heat waves and reduce pollution from California's homes and buildings".

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" 'Because of the lack of density, people are forced to drive everywhere".

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