The California Energy Commission just approved a policy that requires all new homes built after 2020 to have solar panels. The commission unanimously passed the policy last Wednesday, explaining that the average consumer will see net savings on their monthly mortgage payment.
Most industry groups support the plan, but some are complaining that 2020 is too early. The upfront construction costs from solar panels could be another barrier to new construction at a time when more inventory is desperately needed.
The policy has garnered mild criticism from those who say that it will worsen affordability in one of the most expensive states. On average, solar panels will increase construction costs by $9,500 but save homeowners $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years.
- The California Energy Commission approved a new policy to require solar panels on all new construction starting 2020
- The new standards will add $40 to the average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling, and lighting bills
- Some California homebuilders wish the new policy had been delayed a couple more years to focus on affordability and supply issues
California has become the first state in the nation to mandate solar panels for all new homes, in a move to cut greenhouse gas emissions that critics say will end up raising home prices in the already expensive market.
In a unanimous 5-0 vote Wednesday, the California Energy Commission approved the policy.
Spokeswoman for the Energy Commission Amber Beck told Fox News that under the new standards, new homes would be expected to reduce energy use by more than 50 percent. She argued that the change will lead to savings in the long run.
“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,” Beck said in a statement. “On average the 2019 standards will increase the cost of constructing a new home by about $9,500 but will save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years.”
Bill Watt, a homebuilder and design consultant, told The Orange County Register the added solar panel costs, in addition to other building mandates, will make homeownership out of reach for many buyers.
“We’re not building enough housing already,” Watt, former president of the Orange County Building Industry Association, told The OCR. “Why not just pause for a little while, focus on the affordability and housing issues, then circle back?”
Despite the increase in construction costs, the California Building Industry Association generally supports the plan, but expressed a preference to delay the launch.
“[W]e would prefer that this had been put off for a few more years, but the fact is that the California Energy Commission has been working on this, with us, for the past 10 years,” the association’s technical director, Robert Raymer, said in a statement, noting that the group worked with the state’s energy commission to alter the policy. “We know this is coming, we did everything we could to push down compliance costs and increase design flexibility.”
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