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Every New House Built In California Will Soon Have Solar Power

A new mandate—the first of its kind in the U.S.—will require solar power for all new housing projects in the state.

Every New House Built In California Will Soon Have Solar Power
[Image: Jolygon/iStock]

Solar power just inched closer to wide mainstream adoption—at least in California. Yesterday, the five-member California Energy Commission voted unanimously on a mandate to require solar power on all newly constructed homes in the state, the New York Times reports, in the latest landmark clean-energy goal to take place in the U.S.

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The new law will require builders to equip new single- and multi-family residences with solar power systems, and rooftop panels must either be incorporated into the home cost, or made available for monthly lease. The requirement will take action in 2020—just two years from now—and goes hand in hand with another progressive state law: California plans to produce at least half of its electricity through renewable, non-carbon-producing sources by 2030. As of last year, the state’s solar energy provided nearly 16% of its electricity.

According to an engineer from the California Building Industry Association, the new solar requirements will add an expected cost of about $8,000 to $10,000 for new homes—though that upfront cost will certainly be earned back nearly doubly through savings over time. The energy commission forecasted a return of $19,000 in homeowner savings over a 30-year period.

While the new mandate is a bold leap for the nation, it only seems to follow natural course for California, which has long been a leader in clean-energy efforts. Last year, it topped all other states with its solar energy capacity, the Times notes, with several California cities having already passed such a requirement within smaller jurisdictions.

The news is a huge leap forward for renewable energy and a reduced carbon footprint—and other states may soon follow. And yet a few mixed reactions have already surfaced. California is still in the midst of one of the largest homelessness and affordable housing shortage crises in the nation. Here’s hoping the state’s progressive laws will soon address these pressing issues on the other side of the housing coin.

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About the author

Aileen Kwun is a writer based in New York City. She is the author of Twenty Over Eighty: Conversations On a Lifetime in Architecture and Design (Princeton Architectural Press), and was previously a senior editor at Dwell and Surface.

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