California Becomes First State To Mandate All New Homes Be Built With Solar

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California is raising the standard for sustainability in the U.S., by mandating all new homes must now be built with a minimum number of solar panels. The California Energy Commission (CEC) unanimously approved the new mandate and expects around 74,000 new solar installations in 2020.

Before this went into effect on January 1st, one in five new homes in California were being built with solar panels installed. So, this will have a significant impact on the state’s solar production. They expect the additional installations to be between 123 and 334 megawatts per year, from now until 2024.

Head of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Abigail Ross Hopper, told Greentech Media:

There are 100,000 customers annually that will see the acquisition of solar as a normal part of their home transaction. I can’t overstate how strongly I feel about normalizing the solar experience so it feels less risky to the consumer.

This means an increase in work for solar panel installers and homebuilders. PulteGroup, based in Atlanta, GA, is one of the nation’s largest homebuilding construction companies. Ryan Marshall, CEO of the $10.4 billion company told investors back in 2018, they will be moving towards solar being their new standard.

They began doing so four years ago when they built their first zero-net-energy home. Marshall released a statement to investors: “Our communities in Southern California have had solar as a standard feature for the last year-plus. As we move into Northern California, we’re about half-and-half. Not all [multifamily, 3- and 4-story buildings] have solar today, but they will over time.”

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Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of EnergySage, anticipates homeowners will have the ability to select from many options and upgrades for their new homes. “With this mandate, solar is just like any other appliance,” says Aggarwal. “You may upgrade it… and give homeowners the opportunity to customize it.”

Solar installers in California
Credit: The Wall Street Journal

Speaking of the ability to upgrade, Tesla’s new SolarGlass roof version 3 is not only easier to install than earlier versions but also cheaper than standard roofs and solar panels combined. This is good news for both homebuyers and solar installers. The new Tesla roofs are said to no longer require a specialist for installations, they can be done by qualified home builders.

SunRun, a solar installation company, has already contacted 5 of the top ten homebuilding companies in California. They are working together with Citadel Roofing and Solar to provide builders a single source, for solar systems, installation, roofing, and financing. They are also working on pairing battery storage, as they said, more buyers are interested in back-up storage.


The cost of the new California mandated solar systems are said to be around $8,400 per unit on average. According to the CEC, it will cost the homeowners around and extra $40 a month increased mortgage cost but ends up saving around $80 on average in utility bills. Let’s also not forget the environmental impact this will have. So many times people just think in terms of finances, when the larger implications affect the planet and life as we know it.

Forward Thinking

As California leads the way, many other states are looking forward to following suit. Bob Raymer, Senior Engineer for the California Building Industry Association, told the New York Times in 2018 that this could become a template for the rest of the country. “This adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap. You can bet every state will be watching to see what happens.” Massachusetts may become the second state to issue a mandate, as they also care about carbon emissions. Let’s hope the rest of the country follows suit.

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