California Set to Require Solar Panels on New Homes

State Energy Commission acknowledges $8500 in new upfront costs for homebuyers

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The state of California is poised to mandate that all newly built single-family houses have solar panels to defray energy use, imposing expensive upfront costs to builders and home buyers while providing energy cost savings over the long run.

The state's Energy Commission is set to vote Wednesday on the new rules, which will likely pass and begin in 2020, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

The state requirements for solar panels would be the first statewide mandate in the country and don't require the approval of the California legislature, the Times reported. In addition to single-family homes, they would apply to new multifamily buildings of three stories or less.

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The new construction rules are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but at least in the short run, they will inevitably exacerbate California's notoriously high housing costs and could create yet more barriers to residents struggling to buy homes.

The new rules, as well as government impact fees, are estimated to make a single-family house $9,500 more costly on average, when President Trump's new tariffs on imported solar panels are taken into consideration, the Energy Commission estimates.

"Going to 100 percent is a really big, big jump," Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) told the Times.

VICA estimates that a fifth of new homes are presently outfitted with solar panels.

Andrew McAllister, a state energy commissioner, has pointed out that residential and commercial buildings are estimated to contribute roughly 40 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions.