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California Passes Legislation for Mandatory Solar Panels in New Homes

As is often the case with rapidly developing technology; legislation, regulation and government bodies can be slow to catch up, as is the frequently the case with clean energy initiatives.

Particularly so in the USA, where there can be heightened resistance toward renewable energy sources, and more concerningly, resistance towards the necessity of reducing carbon emissions entirely. California however is generally regarded as one of the most environmentally progressive states, demonstrable across a variety of initiatives and policies aimed at curbing carbon emissions, and just recently, has announced a new law intended to further reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The new piece of legislation was passed in the beginning of May, when the California Energy Commission (CEC), the authoritative party on energy policy and planning in the state, voted unanimously to adopt a new policy: from 2020 onwards, all new homes (and all major renovations) built in California will be legally required to install solar panels.

Despite the calculated cost of installing solar panels on every new house, the long-term energy savings would outweigh the up-to-$10,000 extra expenditure per building. However, over the next 30 years, this change is expected to save California $1.7 billion in billings. California is already one of the greener states in the US, currently ranked 9th according to a recent survey from WalletHub.

Reception to the new laws across the energy and construction sectors has been varied: many specialists say this is a step in the right direction, contributing to a more reliable grid and raising the profile of solar power solutions across the globe. At the same time, there is criticism surrounding the hiking up of building costs and timing, which is considered too fast, particularly as California housing market already has a notoriously high financial barrier to entry. Bloomberg’s new energy finance analyst Colleen Regan, says there are two sides to this: “It’s also a policy that very clearly is picking winners, and California would be better off focusing its efforts on the real source of the problem — greenhouse gases — rather than favoring one zero-emissions technology over others.”

Dashboard is currently on the fence regarding this topic. We see the best intentions of CEC behind this plan and support efforts towards popularising green energy, but indeed this can lead to unintended consequences. As there is still over a year for companies and consumers to adjust to the regulation, we believe the overall industry readiness will be substantially better by the time the change comes into effect.