Monday, February 24, 2020

Some CA Builders Won’t Have to Meet Solar Requirements

California officials voted Thursday to allow Sacramento-area developers to build homes that don’t come equipped with solar panels — a move solar installers and environmentalists said would undermine the state’s first-in-the-nation home solar requirement.

A Sacramento Municipal Utility District Solar Farm

The California solar mandate is a building code that requires new construction homes to have a solar photovoltaic (PV) system as an electricity source. This code, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, applies to both single-family homes and multi-family homes that are up to three stories high.

Under the proposal from Sacramento Municipal Utility District, a public power agency, home builders will be able to take credit for electricity generated by off-site solar farms, instead of constructing houses with rooftop solar panels. The utility plans to make enough off-site solar power available to serve all demand from new residential construction.

Supporters said the “community solar” program would accomplish California’s goal of boosting clean energy, and reducing the carbon emissions fueling the climate crisis, without pushing up home prices in a state facing rising homelessness and a shortage of affordable housing.

Critics countered that the whole point of the rooftop solar mandate, approved in 2018, was to make clean energy a standard feature of new homes. They said the alternate compliance option approved Thursday would result in significantly lower electricity cost savings for homeowners and would lay the groundwork for other utilities to create similar workarounds.

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