California becomes the first state in the US to make it mandatory for all new homes to have solar panels

The green initiative, which is set to come into action in 2020, has been unanimously passed by the California Building Standards Commission


                            California becomes the first state in the US to make it mandatory for all new homes to have solar panels

California has now become the first state in the US to mandate that all new homes built in the state have to be fitted with solar panels after lawmakers passed a landmark vote on December 5. The green initiative, which is set to come into action in 2020, has been unanimously passed by the California Building Standards Commission. It is said that this new initiative will see all homes in the state equipped with more sustainable sources of energy.

Members of the board who voted to make the move have declared it as a "historical undertaking" that will (and should) act as "a beacon of light" for the rest of the states in the country to follow. The verdict came as a fulfillment of a 10-year initiative to make the state more environmentally friendly, The Daily Mail reports.

Workers install solar panels on the roof of a home on May 9, 2018, in San Francisco, California (Source: Getty Images)
Workers install solar panels on the roof of a home on May 9, 2018, in San Francisco, California (Source: Getty Images)

The initiative is also said to bring solar power into mainstream use in a way that has never been done before. The motion was made official on December 5 when the Building Standards Commission upheld a vote from May 9 by the California Energy Commission by putting its seal of approval.

In spite of all the loud applause, however, the passing of the bill was also met with opposition from those in the room to the additional costs that homeowners will have to take on in the new provisions. The solar fittings are expected to add an estimated $10,000 to the cost of building a single family home. This includes more than $8,400 for installing panels and around $1,500 for energy efficiency.

The additional expenses also come at a time when finding affordable housing in California is already rare and the state's house prices are double the national average. More worries were raised on behalf of the victims of the devastating California wildfires that destroyed more than 10,000 structures and left thousands of families without homes.

The concern that some people brought was that those people who were looking to rebuild their homes in the wake of the fires will probably not be able to afford the additional up-front charges. The committee has, however, stated that this would not be an issue.

Workers install solar panels on the roof of a home on February 26, 2015, in San Rafael, California (Source: Getty Images)
Workers install solar panels on the roof of a home on February 26, 2015, in San Rafael, California (Source: Getty Images)

According to an official with the California Energy Commission, homeowners in California will now have the option to either pay the up-front costs or sign a "power purchase agreement", which is said to pay for the electricity without even buying the panels.

The Orange County Register reported that Kelly Knutsen, the technology advancement director for the California Solar & Storage Association said: "The homeowners will be able to save money from the day they walk in through the door."

She added: "This is a historical policy. California is leading the country in clean energy, clean air, and fighting climate change, all while saving consumers money." Officials have also said that solar panels last for 30 years and this will offset utility bills, helping families save up to $500 a year.

A structural engineer and one of the six commissioners who voted for the new energy code said: "These provisions are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country. (It's) the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels."