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What are the implications of California’s new solar mandate?

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Last week, California became the first state to require solar on new homes. After January 1, 2020, the California Energy Commission’s updated standards will require that newly constructed homes include PV systems.

The new policy applies to both single-family and multifamily houses that are three stories or less and includes incentives for energy storage. According to the CEC, this will add about $9,500 to the cost of a new home, but will save homeowners $19,000 in energy, heating, and lighting costs over 30 years.

Energy industry professionals believe that the new initiative—part of Governor Jerry Brown’s effort to curb carbon emissions by 40% by 2030—may not only increase the solar industry’s momentum; it may also serve as a model for other states.

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California has traditionally led the way with progressive energy policies and efficiency standards. In addition to boosting the number of solar installations, the new initiative is likely to save Californians a net $1.7 billion on energy bills, while advancing the state’s efforts to develop renewable energy infrastructure.

“The combination of rooftop solar and the option to add energy storage systems as an efficiency compliance credit provides builders with an attractive, cost-effective option to fully electrify homes,” explained Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. But builders may pass costs along to homebuyers, driving housing prices higher and creating potential impacts on the state’s already competitive real estate market.

How this initiative impacts the grid and California’s “duck curve” is also important to observe.  CAISO spokesman Steven Greenlee explains that zero-net energy home projections are included in the CEC’s Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) forecasts, which the ISO uses in its transmission planning process.

“Our planning already takes into consideration state policies,” Greenlee told RTO Insider. “We have been managing increasing amounts of renewables coming onto the grid for many years and use the IEPR forecasts for transmission planning. However, as the amount of renewables on the system grows, grid operators need increased visibility into behind-the-meter resources, including developing practices for aggregated information sharing and operational coordination.”

Some feel that this shift in standards could make solar energy systems standard household items in the near future. How do you think the energy landscape might change if PV systems joined the ranks of common household appliances like water heaters and garbage disposals? DE_bug_web

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  1. I am not sure this is a good thing. On 14 different days in March, California produced so much solar power that it needed to pay Arizona, Nevada and other states to take the excess electricity to avoid overloading its power lines. The phenomenon also occurred on eight days in January and nine days in February. As a result, California has ordered some of its solar plants to reduce generation. In fact, solar and wind power production was curtailed by about 3 percent in the first quarter of 2017—more than double the same period last year.[i]”

  2. Leave it to California to jack up housing costs even more. It is funny that the CEC claims it will only add $9,500.00 to the cost of a new home, when the construction industry figures it will be between $15,000.00 and $20,000.00. Those costs will be passed on to the home buyer. But then the CEC is a government agency. Kind of goes along with the bullet train that was sold to the people as being a 9 Billion dollar project and now is projected to cost over 70 Billion. And no one thinks about the carbon footprint of solar. They are not carbon netural. There is no real economical way to recycle solar panels in the US at this time. The EU has had good success with a new process they are working on, but it is still in the development stage.

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