“Government forcing citizens to purchase products that cost more than $15,000, offer no safety benefits and paybacks not usually realized for a decade or more is hardly cause for celebration. In California, lobbyists for the solar industry succeeded where their innovation and marketing efforts failed.”
That’s what Phil Crone, Executive Officer of the Dallas Builders Association had to say about the new law passed last week to require solar power installations on all new homes (including townhome) builds in sunny California. It’s a real headscratcher that, in a state where housing is already the highest in the nation, lawmakers would add on yet more cost that will, obviously, be ultimately covered by the consumer.
“New homes built in the last 20 years account for less than one percent of green house gas emissions,” says Phil. “Homes built today are 30 percent more energy efficient than those built ten years ago. Hundreds of new products have contributed to these milestones. Picking one prevents others from emerging.”
The measure solar mandate will apply to all homes, condos, and apartment buildings up to three stories high as of January 1, 2020, with exceptions for structures built in the shade (how will they define this one?) and offsets available for other energy-saving measures, such as installing batteries, such as the Tesla Powerwall.
Only 15 to 20% of new single-family homes in California include solar installations currently. The mandate is expected to add $25,000 to $30,000 more to the cost of a new home than those built to the current 2006 code. Experts insist that extra cost, which accounts for both solar installation and improved insulation, would be recouped over the life of the home in savings on energy bills.
Let’s read that again: “Experts counter that extra cost, which accounts for both solar installation and improved insulation, would be recouped over the life of the home in savings on energy bills.”
The average homeowner stays in their home 11 to 13 years –– will that be enough time to recoup any savings? Or are these experts talking “life of home” as in 30 years?
California is pretty bullish on the environment, and rightly so: Los Angeles has terrible air pollution, as does San Francisco, plus smog. With the fifth largest economy in the world, California’s has higher fuel standards than any other state, and higher gas prices. But the state has helped push automakers to embrace more fuel efficiency. San Francisco and the Peninsula area, home to Silicon valley, is also the home of the $2 million tear down. The city of San Francisco already requires all new buildings under 10 stories to be fitted with solar panels, as do the quaint towns of Lancaster and Sebastopol. Now the entire state will follow suit.
But before you say “fruits and nuts”, other states, including New Jersey and Minnesota, are also aggressively pursuing more solar power. Still, no one has yet legislated such a mandate. Only California, our California.