California to be first state to mandate solar panels on new homes

California to be first state to mandate solar panels on new homes
© Thinkstock

California will soon become the first state to require all new homes be built with solar panels.

The California Energy Commission voted unanimously, 5-0, Wednesday to change a state building code that would require all new homes be equipped with the renewable energy technology.

The changes, which would go into effect in 2020, are expected to cost home-builders between $8,000 and $12,000 per house, but the commission says it will also save homeowners about $80 a month on heating, cooling and lighting bills.  

Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, called the vote, "historic."

“This is an undeniably historic decision for the state and the U.S. California has long been our nation’s biggest solar champion, and its mass adoption of solar has generated huge economic and environmental benefits, including bringing tens of billions of dollars of investment into the state," Hopper said in a statement. "Now, California is taking bold leadership again, recognizing that solar should be as commonplace as the front door that welcomes you home.

ADVERTISEMENT

The state is already the nation’s leader for solar capacity. Several California cities have already been mandating some solar power in new buildings. 

And California law requires that at least half of the state’s electricity must come from non-carbon-producing sources by 2030

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., have also considered similar legislation. 

The solar-power industry provides about 16 percent of California's electricity and employs more than 86,000 workers, according to the Times.

The decision comes as the Golden State is heavily pushing back against Trump administration initiatives focused on revitalizing the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. 

In February, President TrumpDonald John TrumpActivists highlight Trump ties to foreign autocrats in hotel light display Jose Canseco pitches Trump for chief of staff: ‘Worried about you looking more like a Twinkie everyday’ Dershowitz: Mueller's report will contain 'sins' but no 'impeachable offense' MORE implemented a 30 percent tariff on solar-panel technology imported into the country — a move many U.S. solar companies say will impact their bottom line and increase manufacturing costs.

A San Jose, Calif., based solar-power company, SunPower, laid off about 3 percent of its workforce in March following the tariff. 

"We'll have to cut costs even more, we just don’t have the money. A cursory review of our balance sheet would see there is not sufficient money which would mean decreased American investment — we’d focus on foreign markets where we don’t have to pay a tariff," Tom Werner, the company's CEO told The Hill in February.

Updated at 3:11 p.m.