California finally gives OK to claim solar panels on new houses: NPR

California predicts that mandatory solar panel installations will add almost $ 10,000 to the pre-cost of a home – money that will be recovered through energy savings.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

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Rich Pedroncelli / AP

California predicts mandatory solar panel installations will add almost $ 10,000 to the original cost of a home – money that will be collected through energy savings.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Solar panels will be a necessary feature of new houses in California, after the State Building Standards Commission finally gave approval to a housing rule that is the first of its kind in the United States.

Effective in 2020, the new standard includes an exemption for houses that are often shaded from the sun. It also includes incentives for people to add a high capacity battery to their home's electrical system to save the sun's energy.

"These provisions are really historic and will be a brightness for the rest of the country," said commissioner Kent Sasaki, according to The Mercury News. "[It’s] The beginning of significant improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels."

The rule marks a new phase in California's environmental policy, which has often set trends and established standards nationwide. The state has set the target of drawing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources and greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The solar panels rule was first approved as part of the state's Green Building Code at the California Energy Commission back in Kan. In a public hearing on Wednesday, the Building Standards Commission heard the comment on the change before approval – the last step in adding to the state building code requirement. The vote was unanimous.

Single-family house and three-storey multi-family house must comply with the new solar standard.

"New homes built under these standards are expected to use 53 percent less energy than our latest standards" from 2016, "said Drew Bohan, Executive Director of the Energy Commission.

The state predicts that mandatory solar panel installations and other new improvements will add almost $ 10,000 to the original cost of a home – a cost that officials say will balance over time, due to lower power bills.

A house will save $ 19,000 during a 30-year mortgage, Bohan said on Wednesday's meeting in the building commission.

From 2020, California homebuyers will have the opportunity to either pay for solar panels directly, lease them, or enter into a power purchase agreement with developers. Another option is that the community should "collect resources instead of installing solar in individual homes," Bohan said.

"With extreme weather conditions, it is more frequent, there is even greater need for efficient, reliable and robust housing." Bohan says standards will result in buildings that "will keep costs down, better withstand climate change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "

Speakers on Wednesday's Session mentioned the recently devastating fire department in Butte County several times – as a type of case where solar panels and batteries could help people who are facing extended power outages from natural disasters, as well as an example of when state-building and energy authorities will need to help to increase the commitment for reconstruction.

While the new rule has given solar panels a boost after the state installers had a decline in 2017, it is also criticized for adding housing prices in a market that is already expensive. But to a degree, the Wednesday meeting was largely a formality, focusing on whether the energy panel's process of creating the rule was correct.

Despite concerns that the solar energy could have immediate impact not only on home buyers but also on property developers and agents, the new rule has been largely supported by industry groups.

At the Energy Commission majeure where public comments and trade groups were also heard, "the majority of those present, including environmental groups, solar companies and tools, expressed strong support for the new standards," as member of the Station KQED reported.

California hopes to achieve its carbon neutral energy status within 30 years; In September, the California Energy Commission said the state is currently 32 percent of achieving that goal.

In the last 40 years, Bohan said that the state's energy policy has saved residents billions of dollars and helped California to increase energy consumption per capita more effectively than the rest of the United States

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