The California Energy Commission ruled on Wednesday that new homes built after 2020 will have to be equipped with solar panels.  California is the first US state to implement such a regulation. photo.

Installation of solar panels on new homes could boost house price by $10,000

On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission ruled that builders in California will have to install solar panels on most new homes beginning in 2020.  The decision is the first such ruling in the United States and is expected to boost the solar industry.

The new building standards are expected to add $10,000 to the cost of new homes, which the commission says will add about $40 to monthly mortgage payments.  They add homeowners will save $80 per month on energy bills.

“We cannot let Californians be in homes that are essentially the residential equivalent of gas guzzlers,” Reuters Thomson Foundation reports Commissioner David Hochschild said ahead of the vote.

The new regulations go beyond solar panel installations.  Builders will also have to apply updated ventilation and lighting standards which, combined with the solar panels, are expected to cut California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 700,000 metric tons over three years.

That is the equivalent of taking 115,000 cars off the road, according to state officials.

The solar installation industry applauded the decision which could mean a 10 to 15 per cent boost in demand for solar equipment California.  Solar companies are hoping these same requirements will be implemented in other states.

“We think it’s another example of California policy preceding what will happen in other markets,” Tom Werner, chief executive of San Jose-based solar company SunPower told Reuters.

By 2030, California hopes to source half of its electricity needs from renewable sources.  At the end of 2017, the most populous US state was already generating about 30 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy, according to the CEC.

There are some exemptions to the regulations.  Buildings located in the shade or that have a roof too small to accommodate solar panels will be excluded from the new building codes, according to Amber Pasricha, spokeswoman for the California Energy Commission.

So far, only 9 per cent of single-family, detached homes in California have solar panels, according to the US Department of Energy.

Since US President Trump took office in early 2017, California has been at odds with the administration which has aggressively rolled back policies designed to fight climate change.