California Requires Solar Panels on All New Homes

If you’re planning to buy a new home in California soon, it will probably come with pre-installed solar panels. California recently passed a law that requires all new homes to come with solar power, becoming the first state to impose this regulation. The requirement will take effect in 2020 and is poised to make solar power the mainstream energy source for homes in the state. While the law will surely do favors for the environment, it will also add thousands of dollars to the price of a new home. 

The bold move will allow the state to rely more on solar power than ever before. An existing law in California requires at least 50 percent of electricity generated in the state to come from non-carbon-producing sources by 2030, according to the New York Times.

California residents will also see a new rate structure for their electricity bills, and it’s dictated by what time of day they’re using electricity. Homes that have energy-efficient features can store energy for when it can be used most efficiently, which can help homeowners avoid paying higher bills. The installation of smart meters can also help lower energy usage in the home. 

California home with solar panels

To meet the new solar panel requirement, developers can either install solar panels on individual homes or build a solar-power system that a community of homes can share. For individual rooftop panels, the price can either be included in the cost of the home or be made available for lease. Either way, homebuyers can expect to pay $8,000 to $12,000 more than they would otherwise.

For a region with a real estate climate as expensive and competitive as that of the Bay Area, this could push home prices further out of reach for the average buyer. After all, the median price of a Bay Area home is already $820,000, according to NBC Bay Area. With home prices at an all time high in cities like San Francisco, buyers may opt for other somewhat affordable locations to purchase their homes, such as Sacramento.

However, the use of solar energy can also allow homeowners to pay less in other areas. The Energy Commission estimates that a buyer paying off a 30-year mortgage will pay $40 more each month, but will also save $80 on monthly electricity bills.

Currently, the state is seeing 80,000 new homes go up every year, and about 15,000 of those come with rooftop solar installations. The new requirement is expected to increase the number of solar-system installations by 44 percent.

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