California’s New Residential Solar Policy Is Now Official


On Wednesday, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) unanimously confirmed the new standards requiring solar on most new homes in California starting in 2020.

According to the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA), this final regulatory vote confirms that the California Energy Commission (CEC) followed the correct process in developing the new rules established in May, making California the first state in the country with the requirement. Notably, the new rules also include a solar-plus-storage option to give consumers more clean energy choices.

“It’s officially official. Solar will be required on new California homes starting in 2020,” states Kelly Knutsen, director of technology advancement at CALSSA. “These highly energy efficient and solar-powered homes will save families money on their energy bills from the moment they walk through their front door. Home buyers will also have a solar-plus-storage option, allowing their homegrown clean energy to work for them day and night.”

The standards will require solar PV panels to be installed on new low-rise residential buildings starting Jan. 1, 2020. This includes single-family homes and multifamily buildings of three stories or fewer; therefore, apartments and condos are included in the new standards. Updated every three years through a stakeholder process, the standards also require California homes and businesses to meet strong energy efficiency measures. The standards also continue solar water heating provisions for larger buildings.

Currently, according to CALSSA, the solar industry installs solar on roughly 150,000 new and existing homes in California each year, with approximately 15,000 of those projects being new homes. California, on average, builds 80,000 new homes annually. Starting in 2020, those new homes will have solar, representing a fourfold increase compared to today.

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