California first state to require solar on all new construction by 2020


The first of its kind, California mandates that all new homes have solar installed at the time of construction. This requirement will go into place in January 2020 as California strives to have 50% of the state’s energy be green energy by 2030. Solar power has increasingly become a leading driver in the growth of the state’s alternative energy production.

The new building rules require that all residential buildings up to 3 stories high have solar installed during the building. This includes all new construction of single-family homes, condos and small apartment buildings. This requirement will increase new home prices by $9,500 on average. Although, the cost will be offset by lower energy bills. Based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission states this will cost homeowners $40 per month but, save them on average $80 per month. Homeowners purchasing solar for their new home will additionally be eligible for the Solar Investment Tax Credit.

The size of the system will depend on which of the 16 climate zones the home falls within and also the square footage. The Bay Area, for example, falls into zone 3. Based on the formula from the California Energy Commission, a 2,500 square foot home will need a minimum of a 2.69 kW system. Typical residential solar arrays are two to three times that size and are able to almost completely power a household. The mandate only requires small size systems to offset just a portion of all the electricity that would be needed to operate the home. There are also a few alternatives and exceptions to the requirement when there is excess shading or very little roof space. Homeowners have the option to enlarge their system or add on a battery.

California is already a leader in renewable energy. Requiring all new homes to install solar will potentially establish a nationwide standard in the near future.