Solar Panels Mandatory by 2020 for All New California Homes

solar panels mandatory

The California Energy Commission adopted yesterday new energy efficient standards that will make solar panels mandatory by the year 2020 for all new residential construction. Not only will new California homes need to have solar panels installed by January 1, 2020, but the standards also affect insulation, ventilation and lighting. California leads the way as being first in the nation to require such improvements.

However, the first question is how much will it cost? The state says the new standards making solar panels mandatory, along with other energy improvements, will add about $9,500 to the cost of a new house. We are already in dire straits, desperately needing new construction. Inventory is so low. Our housing market needs a fresh boost, and this might not be it. They say adding these improvements and making solar panels mandatory will pay back $19,000 in saved maintenance and energy costs over 30 years.

Although, I can’t say I know very many people who have owned the same home for the last 30 years.

I am all for reducing energy and saving our planet, a big proponent of green, reducing carbon footprints, but I do wonder how this program will be implemented. Like, how much of the additional costs will be passed on to the buyer? I imagine all of it, if builders can get away with it. Plus, you know how much buyers really love solar panels these days, NOT. It’s a chore and a challenge to sell a house with solar panels to reluctant buyers, but I manage to do it.

Will the solar panels last 30 years? How often will they need to be updated or replaced? What do repairs cost? And why can’t solar panels be affordable anyway? When they first came on the scene, solar panels delivered enough energy to run a house and the rest was sold back to the electric company. You can’t do that anymore.

Solar companies need to make more money so now they often lease solar panels. But technology wears out and goes out of date. Sometimes leases cost more than buying electricity directly from the electric company. Further, the real savings might happen 5 years or more down the road, providing you don’t need to change out the solar panels.

My feelings are mixed. Just hoping the positives outweigh the negatives in this case. It’s definitely a giant step forward for California. Let’s hope it’s not two steps back for Sacramento real estate.

Elizabeth Weintraub


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