California’s Bright Future: The Solar Mandate

On May 9th, the Sunshine State became the first to require a solar installation on new housing. This historic development is that latest sign that solar energy is gaining traction around the U.S., hopefully setting precedent for many states to come.

The California Energy Commission unanimously passed the California solar mandate that requires all new housing developments up to 3 stories to include some solar energy installation in the home. This is apart of California’s goal to have 50% of their electricity to come from non carbon sources by 2030 and cutting down greenhouse emissions by 40%. Under this mandate, builders must either include individual solar panels on homes or attach groups of home to a shared power system. Homeowners will either pay for this new power source inclusively in the initial housing price or in a monthly fee.

According the the Commission, this plan is estimated to use 53% less energy than under the 2016 standards, majorly progressing towards their 2030 goal. In addition, greenhouse gases are expected to decrease by 700,000 metric tons due to this solar mandate.

How does this plan affect the average homeowner? Let’s address the two main concerns of this plan: the quality of energy and the costs.

  1. Solar panels are roughly suppose to provide about 60-70% of quality energy for the average home. For those concerned about the colder months, solar panels will still produce energy on cloud-filled days and actually increase output in colder temperatures. To provide even more insurance, the mandate dictates that houses would still be attached to a power grid to ensure a constant supply of energy among all weather conditions.
  2. The costs associated with this plan are negligible as the savings outweighs the costs overtime. While the initial cost of construction is estimated to increase about $10,000, environmental economists predict solar efficiency will save homeowners around $19,000 on electric bills over 30 years, averaging at $80 per month.

The California solar mandate made a giant step towards sustainable consumption and paves the future for solar energy. From solar panels to solar street lights to even solar schools, the market for solar is growing and demands attention. And it’s finally receiving the attention it deserves.  

All over the world, countries are making great strides to embrace renewable energy as a main source of energy. Morocco has built an impressive new solar installation that currently stands as the largest solar installation in the world. Countries all over Europe are replacing giant sums of energy, anywhere from a third to half, with solar. Now cheaper than fossil fuels, solar is taking over the industry. 

The United States should take precedent from these countries to more heavily invest in solar. In fact, our nation alone has the capacity to power major players on the world stage. Alaska can power Russia for an entire year, Texas could power France, New York Rwanda, and California Saudi Arabia to name but a few. California and its’ energy-friendly policies are raising the bar to encourage other states to take the steps towards sustainable living and is proving that investing in solar is worth it. 

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