But some experts warn that increasing the cost to build new homes will only worsen the state's affordable housing crisis.
Leasing options will be available for those who do not wish to invest in a solar system upfront. The California Building Standards Commission still needs to approve the change, and that hearing is scheduled for the end of this year. The Golden State has always been at the vanguard of progressive energy policies, from setting energy-efficiency standards for appliances to instituting an economy-wide program to curb greenhouse gases.
Andrew McAllister, a member of the Energy Commission, has said that this would be an important "part of an overall suite of reforms to reduce greenhouse gases". For the first time, the standards also establish requirements for newly constructed healthcare facilities. How much this hurts other users is disputed, and varies by location, but California's energy commission says it could conceivably cost other ratepayers money. "This really puts us on a path to a more efficient future".
What it means: California is huge - it's not even a country and yet it's the world's 5th largest economy. Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires at least 50% of the state's electricity to come from renewable energy by 2030.
"I like solar. I just don't like the state mandating it", said Joe Durocher.
"Adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap in statewide building standards", Bob Raymer, the technical director for the CBIA said in remarks to the energy commission prior to the vote in Sacramento.
Hoff acknowledged that other states may not be ready to follow California's lead.
The regulation has one more approval to gain before it becomes official.
The new codes also encouragebuilders to install energy storage systems such as home battery systems like the famed Tesla Powerwall, or heat pump water heating. But they're still connected to the grid - and the costs of maintaining that grid don't go down. Homes that are in the shade and houses where the roof is too tiny to hold panels won't need to comply.
The decision will boost the cost of building new houses by approximately $9,500- but could lower energy bills for everyone in the long-run, according to estimates provided by the CEC. Meanwhile, non-residential dwellings will achieve energy savings of 30%, the Energy Commission estimates.
Experts believe the costs of installing solar panels pay for themselves over time. Part of that plan includes sourcing half of the state's electricity from renewables by that time. Solar companies including First Solar Inc., Sunrun Inc., Vivint Solar Inc. and Enphase Energy Inc. surged on the news with Sunrun up as much as 6.4 percent at $10.03.
Solar panels aren't the only new requirement.
Some California cities, including San Francisco, San Mateo and Lancaster, already have similar ordinances in place.
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