America has some issues right now at the federal level with the Government shutdown, but at the state level, they’re still powering along. The tech-forward state of California, has announced a new standard, effective in 2020, will require all new homes to include solar panels.
The decision comes from the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) where it was unanimously passed. California is the first state in America to introduce the renewable energy requirement.
“It’s officially official. Solar will be required on new California homes starting in 2020. These highly energy efficient and solar-powered homes will save families money on their energy bills from the moment they walk through their front door.”Kelly Knutsen, Director of Technology Advancement for the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA).
The solar regulation will apply to what they call ‘Low-rise residential buildings’ which includes everything up to stories. Home builders will have the choice of also adding a battery storage option, further reducing their dependency on fossil fuels to power their home.
On average, California builds around 80,000 new homes each year with only around 15,000 adding solar. Come 2020 and beyond, that’ll be a fairly rapid expansion of solar installations.
For the past three years, the CEC performed detailed analysis on the new requirements, and gathered official public input from all stakeholders — utilities, home builders, solar industry, lighting industry. Their analysis showed the new solar requirement will be cost-effective in all climate zones in the state – from the mountains to the Central Valley to the coast. The CEC stated that homeowners would save $40 dollars each month, or roughly $500 per year, due to these new standards.
In Australia, new home builds face an ever increasing energy rating requirement (6 stars or above). Mandating solar installations on new builds would be fairly contentious.
While solar (and battery storage) would definitely be a great idea to lower the demands on the grid and minimise homeowners exposure to rising electricity costs, it would raise the overall cost of homes, at a time when the affordability of new homes, at least in capital cities, is very difficult for many to achieve.
Pricing costs in the US for solar and for power are very different than Australia, however a strong justification for the new regulation is the cost of adding solar would increase mortgage repayments by around $40 per month, savings on energy bills is expected to be about $80 per month.
What do you think, should Australian states like VIC, NSW and QLD, follow California’s lead?