California may soon become the first state to mandate solar panels be installed on all new homes, apartments, and condominiums.
The California Energy Commission passed a building code regulation requiring all homes constructed in 2020 or later to have solar panels on their roofs, by a unanimous vote on May 9. The regulation must be approved by the California Building Standards Commission next year in order to become part of the state building code.
Commission spokeswoman Amber Beck says the building commission typically enacts all Energy Commission recommendations without revision. In California, no legislative review of proposed building code regulations is required.
In addition to the solar mandate, the commission adopted rules requiring enhanced insulation in the walls and attics of new homes, and more efficient windows, water heaters, and other appliances.
Increasing Housing Prices
California’s home prices are among the highest in the nation. The median price of a residence in California is more than 200 percent higher than the U.S. average.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 138,000 residents left the Golden State in the 12 months ending July 2017, in favor of states such as Nevada and Texas, which have lower housing prices. Since 2006, a million more people have moved out of California than moved in.
In a recent USC Dornsife/LA Times poll, Californians cited the state’s high cost of living, including housing costs and availability, as the most pressing issue facing the state. Californians cited housing costs as a primary reason for relocating within the state or moving out of state.
The California Building Industry Association estimates the solar mandate will add between $8,400 and $12,400 to the cost of a new-built home in California, depending upon where in the state it is located . . .
‘Government Picking Winners’
Kerry Jackson, a fellow with the Pacific Research Institute’s Center for California Reform, says the solar mandate is nothing more than crony capitalism.
“The California solar homes mandate is another example of a state government picking winners and losers,” said Jackson. “Business interests that bank on nontraditional energy sources, such as Tesla—which now owns Solar City and does well thanks to favorable government policies like these—stand to do even better under this new solar requirement.”
Jackson says the solar requirement will only aggravate California’s skyrocketing housing costs.
“This rule is more of what California doesn’t need, a new mandate that will soon force home prices even higher,” Jackson said. “What it does need are more homes, and a lot of them, to relieve the housing shortage and deflate swollen prices.”