California Energy Commission approves plan requiring solar panels on new homes

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The commission estimates the solar mandate will add an average of about $9,500 to the upfront cost of single-family houses but result in about $19,000 in energy savings over a 30-year period. The same official also acknowledged that adoption of the new standards is equivalent to a "quantum leap".

The state's energy commission projects that the standards will reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over three years.

Buildings that are shaded or have a roof that is too small to accommodate panels will be among those exempt, California Energy Commission spokeswoman Amber Pasricha Beck said. "Other states may not be ready for this step yet, but this is a precedent-setting policy - one that will bring enormous benefits and cost savings to consumers", SEIA Chief Executive Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement. The California Building Standards Commission will need to give the final approval before the mandate can be enacted.

California is on track to require solar panels on all new homes.

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"But Republican legislative leaders argue Californians can't afford to pay any more for housing in the state's already extremely expensive market", the AP writes.

Overall, home listings in California were by far the most likely to mention green energy features.

The Commission estimated the standards will add about $40 to monthly mortgage payments but will compensate for that by saving residents $80 a month on energy bills. The state's Building Standards Commission will vote later this year.

California averages about 80,000 new homes a year, with about 15,000 now including solar installations.

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The mandate is part of California's "Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan", which includes the goal that both residential and commercial construction be zero net energy by 2030-meaning the buildings' annual energy usage is either less than or equal to the renewable energy generated onsite. Sunrun, however, focuses on installing solar power systems on existing homes, not new ones, according to Bloomberg.

While California continues to produce massive amounts of oil and gas, the state's solar industry has simultaneously blossomed over the last two decades.

California just became the first state to mandate solar panels on almost all new residential homes. Right now, roughly one in five new homes in the Golden State has rooftop solar panels.

"I think there are indeed limited political resources that can be mustered against climate change", Borenstein said in a follow-up email.

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Officials in St. Petersburg, Florida, made a similar argument when they were mulling their own solar mandate past year, with City Councilman Kevin Nurse telling Reason, "You can create a system that provides local jobs, reduces fossil fuel use and pollution, and reduces the cost of owning a home".