California to Require Solar on All New Homes Starting in 2020

Includes Visionary Solar Plus Storage Option

With a historic vote, the California Energy Commission (CEC) unanimously agreed 5 – 0 to require solar on all new homes in California starting in 2020, becoming the first state in the country with the clean energy requirement.  The new rules will also include a solar plus storage option to give consumers more clean energy choices.

"Today, California made history. We are building a better future for consumers and the environment by embracing innovation and smart technologies,” said Kelly Knutsen, Director of Technology Advancement for the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA). “Adding solar on all new homes, and giving consumers a solar plus storage option, will make our homes super energy efficient while generating their own clean energy. This is a win-win for consumers and the environment."

The CEC voted today to further increase the clean energy requirements in the California Building Energy Standards.  Updated every three years, the standards require California homes and businesses to meet strong energy efficiency measures, lowering their energy use.  For the first time, they will require solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to be installed on all new low-rise residential buildings starting January 1, 2020.  Low-rise residential buildings include single family homes and multi-family buildings of three stories or less; therefore apartments and condos are included in the new standards.  Additionally, the vote sets a path forward for solar plus storage in new homes by providing a storage option if the homeowner chooses.  The standards also continue solar water heating provisions for larger buildings, allowing solar energy continue to help reduce the water heating needs of our buildings.

For the past three years, the CEC performed detailed analysis on the new requirements, and gathered official public input from all stakeholders -- utilities, home builders, solar industry, lighting industry.  Their analysis showed the new solar requirement will be cost-effective in all climate zones in the state – from the mountains to the Central Valley to the coast.  The CEC stated today that the savings on the homeowners’ energy bills will be about $80 per month compared to adding roughly $40 per month to the mortgage payment, so the monthly savings are twice as high as the additional cost.  Homeowners would be saving on average almost $500 a year because of the new mandate.

Currently the solar industry installs solar on roughly 150,000 new and existing homes in California each year, with roughly 15,000 of those projects being new homes.  California on average builds 80,000 new homes annually.  Starting in 2020, all those homes will have solar; a four-fold increase compared to today.


Check out these stories about the news, including our own Kelly Knutsen's quotes: 
New York TimesLA TimesAP (Bakersfield), San Diego Union-Tribune 

TV interview on CNBC's Closing Bell.

Listen to Audio recording of BBC Interview with Kelly Knutsen: