On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission approved a set of standards that will require most new homes built in the state after 2020 to include solar panels on their roofs.
The standards (PDF) apply only to single-family homes and certain low-rise condos, townhomes, and apartments. Exceptions are made for homes with roofs that would receive excessive shade during the daytime or homes with roofs too small to benefit from a few solar panels.
The standards also include some smaller efficiency requirements for non-residential buildings. The state expects that, on the whole, the new requirements will help state residents save money. Overall, California expects the new residential and non-residential standards to cost the state economy $2.17 billion, while generating an energy bill savings of $3.87 billion, for a net savings of $1.7 billion.
The standards must still be approved by the state’s Building Standards Commission, according to ABC7.
The OC Register reported earlier this week that the new standards are the successor of a “net-zero” objective that California law makers have toyed with implementing. Such an objective would have required that all new homes built after 2020 produce as much energy as the household would have consumed. The simpler requirement to include solar panels on homes has been supported by homebuilders and environmentalists, although solar industry groups pushed for the more stringent requirements.
Of course, adding a solar requirement to new homes will increase the cost of a new home in a state where cost of living is already high. Proponents of the measure say that while the upfront cost of building or buying the home increases, utility costs for the home will be reduced every month.
There may be some opportunity for creative pricing with the new regulations. The OC Register notes that homebuilders could make solar systems smaller if they install a stationary battery on the house. The homebuilder would then receive “compliance credits” for including an energy storage system. Provisions will also encourage homebuilders to move away from natural gas-burning appliances and include things like electric ovens and water heaters.