By Jason Hopkins
California is widely expected to become the first state in the U.S. to require solar panel installations for nearly all new homes.
The California Energy Commission will vote Wednesday on whether to enact a sweeping new mandate that will artificially propagate the state’s solar energy sector. If passed, the proposed rule will require solar panels to be installed in all new homes, apartment buildings and condos up to three stories high, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. Exceptions will be made for homes that are blocked by trees or taller buildings, or can’t fit a solar panel. The five-member commission is expected to pass the measure.
“California is about to take a quantum leap in energy standards,” Bob Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association, stated in a local interview published Friday. “No other state in the nation mandates solar, and we are about to take that leap.”
The impending mandate will radically change the energy industry in The Golden State. Only 15 to 20 percent of new single-family homes in California currently use solar installations. A vast amount of new homeowners will soon be forced to invest in solar panels whether they like it or not — and at a steep price.
The mandate will raise the cost of building a new home by around $25,000 to $30,000. Supporters of the measure point to an estimated $50,000 to $60,000 savings on energy bills over 25 years to offset these initial costs. These savings, however, are largely possible through subsidized rates, where panel owners are compensated for the energy they put back into the grid at a retail rate, not the cheaper wholesale rate.
The vote Wednesday by the California Energy Commission is just the latest in what has been a bullish environmental agenda in the state.
Jerry Brown, the state’s outgoing Democratic governor, has pushed legislation that makes the state’s renewable portfolio standard reach 33 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2030. More notably, state leaders have waged war on the White House regarding vehicle emissions standards. The Trump administration is pushing to ease regulations on the car industry, but Brown has vowed to keep his own, stricter standards in place. Such a different emission standard between the federal government and California, the country’s most populated state, would wreak confusion on the car industry.
The move to mandate solar panels for every home could further complicate a growing dilemma. Utility companies are already struggling to operate in a state that is increasingly diversifying its energy portfolio, pushing more customers to turn away from investor-owned utilities and creating a more volatile market. Uncertain of how many customers they will have in the future, utilities are becoming more hesitant to sign long-term contracts with power generators.
Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, is sounding the alarm bell, warning that California might be at risk of a second energy crisis. Customers could soon be subjected to skyrocketing electricity prices and rolling blackouts — unless the state leaders act accordingly. Picker’s office released a report Thursday explaining how they can properly reform the electricity market and avoid an energy shortage similar to the one California experienced in 2000 and 2001.
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This report, by Jason Hopkins, was cross posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.