Ean GoodguyAugust 27, 2018381
California Solar Mandate Saves
The trailblazing clean-energy goals of California took a giant step on Wednesday, becoming the first state to demand all new homes to have solar power.
The new condition, to take effect in two years, brings solar power into the mainstream in a way it has never been until now. It will add thousands of dollars to the price of the home when a shortage of affordable housing is one of California’s most pressing issues.
That earned the relative ease of its approval, in a unanimous vote by the five-member California Energy Commission before a standing-room crowd, with little debate, all the extra remarkable.
State officials and clean-energy advocates say the extra cost to house buyers will be more than made up in lower energy bills. That prospect has won over even the construction industry, which has embraced solar capacity as a selling point.
“This adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap,” Bob Raymer, senior engineer for the California Building Industry Association, stated during the public remarks before the vote. “You can bet every state will be watching to see what happens.”
Several California cities have asked that some new buildings include solar power, or have made commitments to 100 percent clean energy through various sources. New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., have also contemplated legislation to demand that new buildings be solar-ready, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And Hawaii is among the states that have mandated other energy-efficiency measures, like solar water heaters.
California law requires at least 50 percent of the state’s power to come from noncarbon-producing sources by 2030. Solar power has more become a driver in the growth of the state’s alternative energy production.
And a new rate arrangement coming next year will charge California customers based on the time of day they use electricity. So homeowners with energy-efficiency features, a battery, in particular, allowing energy to be stored for when it is most efficiently used, will avoid higher prices.
“Any additional amount in the mortgage is more than offset,” stated Andrew McAllister, an Energy Commission member who led a building-code review that presented the proposal. “It’s good for the customer.”
The utility industry has been preparing for the proliferation of energy-producing homes by studying its impact on the electric grid with tests like a net-zero community developed in Fontana, east of Los Angeles. The utilities are trying to determine how to manage a system where homes are putting electricity onto the grid during the day and consuming it at night.
“We’ve been working towards it,” stated Ram Narayanamurthy, technical administrator at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group that researches the nation’s power companies. “What we think we will see is greater and greater efficiency.”
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