Calif. Agency Approves Solar Panels For All New Homes

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The mandate, approved 5-to-0 by the California Energy Commission, is part of the state's 2019 update of energy efficiency standards and ongoing efforts to help reduce greenhouse gases.

California has some of the highest housing costs in the country and has a widespread housing shortage.

The mandate, which takes effect in 2020, won unanimous approval of the California Energy Commission. That means homeowners with the rooftop solar systems will be able to capture cheap electricity during the middle of the day and to keep that power onsite for evening hours when rates tend to go up.

The CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Assocation described the new policy as historic and commended California for its bold leadership in moving toward mass adoption of this form of renewable energy technology which will yield significant benefits both economically and for the environment. "It's very cost effective to do it this way, and customers want it".

California has been a leader in statewide initiatives to combat climate change, including setting aggressive goals like lowering carbon pollution to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, as well as requiring that utility companies get at least 50 percent of all electricity from renewables by the same year.

The report found retreating glaciers, dying trees, warming waters and devastating droughts and wildfires are tied to global warming.

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Representatives of the construction, utility and solar industries all helped develop the new standard, and no industry groups spoke in opposition Wednesday. The report credits California's "pioneering policies" created to cut emissions.

"As the amount of renewables on the system grows, grid operators need increased visibility into behind-the-meter resources", said Steven Greenlee, a spokesman for California Independent System Operator Corp., which runs the state's power grid.

Under the plan, some new homes, including those located under shade, will be exempt from having solar panels. About 20 percent of California's new homes are built with solar arrays and the state has held about a third of the nation's total jobs in solar since 2013, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The additional solar homes stand to add as much as 260 megawatts of annual solar power in the state - about the size of one large solar farm.

" 'Because of the lack of density, people are forced to drive everywhere". Until we tackle that problem, doing things like requiring solar panels on new construction is a band aid, ' he said.

"We especially appreciate the CEC's willingness to work with industry to reduce overall compliance costs and provide design flexibility", Raymer said in a press statement.