California took a giant risk to become the first state to demand installation of non-renewable energy sources with cleaner and renewable alternatives, such as solar power in new homes built. The California Energy Commission unanimously approved the standard requiring that new residential buildings, built from January 2020, be equipped with the panels.
Under the new rule, any new 3-story building or higher, whether commercial or residential, will need to be equipped with solar panels for power generation. Construction companies may opt for one of two models: provide houses individually with solar panels or build a shared solar power system that caters to a group of homes. The panels can be owned or rented monthly.
“The adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap. You can bet every state will be watching to see what happens”, Bob Raymer, senior engineer for the California Building Industry Association, said during public comments before the vote.
A pioneer in the search for alternative energy sources, California is the first US state to make a commitment of such magnitude. At the end of 2017, California was by far the nation’s leader in installed solar capacity. Solar power provides almost 16 percent of the state’s electricity, and the industry employs more than 86,000 workers.
High investment versus long-term economy
Although the economic and environmental benefits from installing solar panels are undeniable in the medium and long term, the initial cost of installation are high. Thus, the new rule may represent a further obstacle for the low-income population to acquire their new home.
Enthusiasts, however, believe the news will be received well by the population despite the high initial cost. “Any additional amount in the mortgage is more than offset. It’s good for the customer”, said Andrew McAllister, an Energy Commission member in an interview with The New York Times.
As stated by the Energy Commission of California, the required installation of solar panels is expected to add $8,000 to $14,000 to the cost of a home. Not having the amount it would cost to buy the panels, you can rent them from solar-power companies. A 20-year lease costs around $76 a month, according to The New York Times.
According to the Energy Commission, although residential homeowners have high costs, they still have advantages. It is estimated that a Californian house equipped with solar panels would save, on average, about $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills. Based on a 30-year mortgage, this would save $19,000.
“We cannot let Californians be in homes that are essentially the residential equivalent of gas-guzzlers,” said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Law, in an interview to the Reuters News Agency. Fossil is the main fuel source in the US. According to Elkind, the new rule would lower the price of solar panels nationwide as manufacturers tap into California’s huge consumer base. “It helps to provide a market for solar”, he added.
In addition to the economic issue, experts believe that introducing solar panels in private homes will also encourage citizens to be energy-independent. “There’s also a real American sense of freedom of producing electricity on my rooftop”, said Lynn Jurich, co-founder and chief executive of Sunrun, a leading solar installation company, in an interview to Reuters. “And it’s another example of California leading the way.”
Content published in June 11, 2018