California becomes first state requiring all new homes be built with solar

California homes may soon be equipped with solar panels

Demand for solar equipment in California could rise by 10 percent to 15 percent because of the new standards, the Energy Commission forecast in a study earlier this year.

The commission endorsed the requirement after representatives of builders, utilities and solar manufacturers voiced support.

Although the new solar law will likely raise new home prices initially, there is a bigger phenomenon that's contributing to higher housing prices: California isn't building enough homes to keep up with the number of people who want to live there. The construction costs are steep, but could be outweighed by the amount the solar panels could save in utilities costs.

It needs final approval from California's Building Standards Commission, which typically adopts the energy panel's recommendations when updating the state's building codes.

The commission estimates solar panels would boost construction costs for a single-family home by roughly $10,000.

"We can not let Californians be in homes that are essentially the residential equivalent of gas guzzlers", Commissioner David Hochschild said ahead of the vote.

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The state is already the nation's leader for solar capacity. It cited Bob Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association (CBIA), as saying that now 15% to 20% of new single-family homes have solar.

But Republican legislative leaders argue Californians can't afford to pay any more for housing in the state's already extremely expensive market.

Lynn Jurich, co-founder of solar installation company Sunrun, told the New York Times that large market expansions like this make it "very cost effective to do".

For more than a decade, the commission has been operating under goals that would provide "net-zero" energy for new residents by 2020 and for new commercial buildings a decade later.

"Battery storage technology will allow the homeowner to capture the cheaper electricity. the middle of the day", Raymer said. More than 5 million homes in the state use solar power, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Abigail Ross, CEO of the national Solar Energy Industries Association, said solar prices in the state have fallen by more than 50% in the last five years.

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