"Building solar on new homes, as we've heard, is consistent with California's zero-net energy goals for new buildings", said Zadie Oleksiw with Vote Solar. For all the new homes and buildings expected to be permitted in 2020, the Energy Commission says based on a 30-year mortgage, the new standards will add about $40 in monthly payments, but will save homeowners about $80 on monthly energy bills.
The environmental costs saved are perhaps even more significant, the NRDC said.
"Adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap in statewide buildings standards", said Robert Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association.
"This is an undeniably historic decision for the state and the USA", said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade association with about 1,000 member companies. "I think we'll see more solar projects coming up in the near future". But Republican legislative leaders said Californians can't afford to pay any more for housing in the state's already extremely expensive market.
While California continues to produce massive amounts of oil and gas, the state's solar industry has simultaneously blossomed over the last two decades.
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"The state's housing crisis is real", State Assemblyman Brian Dahle said.
The rules package follows other code updates that have already made new homes and commercial buildings greener in recent years, including when regulators in 2012 required roofs to be built in ways that allow solar panels to be added easily.
The Energy Commission's plan is less ambitious. That they are not uniformly spending an extra $10,500 on solar panels-despite the massive government subsides flowing to the panels' makers and users-suggests they have other uses for that money. But they're still connected to the grid - and the costs of maintaining that grid don't go down. But how quickly the investment yields returns depends on a whole host of factors, including how big your solar panels are, the price of energy where you live, and how much sun you get. In some instances, the solar requirement can be met through a shared installation within a community. This rule will come into force in 2020.
The solar-power industry provides about 16 percent of California's electricity and employs more than 86,000 workers, according to the Times. "They're putting out a model that other states can emulate". "But this is a precedent-setting policy, one that will bring enormous benefits and cost savings to consumers".
The state's building sector is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions when fossil fuels power plants are factored in.