California to Mandate Solar Panels on All New Construction Homes Starting in 2020By TRACY FOSTERLINGon 5/9/2018


The California Energy Commission approved a plan, in a 5-0 vote, requiring all newly constructed homes to have rooftop solar, going into effect in 2020. The recommended energy efficiency standards will be added to building regulations and requirements at some point this year. This mandate makes California the first state in the United States to require new construction homes to have solar panels, increasing its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Key Provisions

  • The mandate applies to newly constructed residences and major home renovations beginning January 1, 2020
  • Applies to multi-family residential buildings under three stories (condos, apartment complexes)
  • Exceptions made for homes with inadequate roof space for the solar array
  • Exempt homes will be required to have access to community solar and additional efficiency gains
  • Will offer credit for a solar plus storage system
  • Homebuilding firms can roll the cost into a mortgage, lease or another financing option

What’s the net effect?

The mandate of adding solar panels onto all homes in California is expected to increase the prices of homes by $8,000-$10,000. Critics of this recently passed plan say that increasing the costs of homes will continue to worsen that state’s housing crisis. California already has one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation. Higher sales points could hurt home developers, real estate companies and ultimately potential home buyers. Many are also concerned about the increase in electricity rates with more solar power being added, as well as those who don’t have solar arrays paying higher prices per month for electricity. The mandate is expected to reduce a home’s energy usage by 53% and save homeowners at least $40/month on their energy bills. The estimated savings is roughly $19,500 over 30 years. Solar advocates and associations also estimate that the mandate will add 200 MW of deployed solar every year.

Updates made in Energy Toolbase

When the new mandate goes into effect, Energy Toolbase will continue to enable solar installers as well as general contractors to accurately project the economics of the projects for homeowners from start to finish. With the mandate, comes the increase of home prices due to the cost of installation of the PV array. Our tool will show your homeowners exactly what they’re paying for based on their utility and what the mandated solar array is going to be saving them monthly and yearly. 


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