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Fortune: California to Require Solar Panels for All New Homes

Fortune: California to Require Solar Panels for All New Homes
Stephan Pietzko | Dreamstime.com

By    |   Monday, 07 May 2018 01:11 PM

California reportedly is about to become the first state in the U.S. — and possibly the first government in the world — to require solar power installations on all new homes.

The California Energy Commission will hold a vote on Wednesday, May 9, on whether to put the new standard into effect, Fortune reported.

If passed, which is expected, the solar mandate would apply to all homes, condos, and apartment buildings up to three stories high as of January 1, 2020, with exceptions for structures built in the shade and offsets available for other energy-saving measures,  Fortune explained.

“At present, only 15 to 20% of new single-family homes in the state include solar installations. The mandate would make it $25,000 to $30,000 more expensive to build new homes than those built to the current code, established in 2006," Fortune explained.

"But experts say that extra cost, which accounts for both solar installation and improved insulation, would be recouped over the life of the home in savings on energy bills. Owners are expected to save $50,000 to $60,000 in operating costs over 25 years. Officials say this plan would do one better than the goal of net-zero energy,” Fortune explained.

Meanwhile, California’s chief utility regulator is warning that the state could find itself in the throes of another energy crisis if it doesn’t address the droves of customers defecting from utilities.

The state is going to find it increasingly difficult to ensure it has enough electricity to keep the lights on as more Californians leave utilities to buy their power directly from resources like rooftop solar panels and community choice aggregators that contract directly with generators, California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker said.

As much as a quarter of the state’s energy demand may be sourced outside of utilities by the end of this year, he said.

“We have a hodgepodge of different providers,” Picker recently told Bloomberg. “If we aren’t careful, we could slide back to the kind of crisis we faced in 2000 and 2001.”

Almost two decades ago, California was gripped by an unprecedented energy crisis, brought on by electricity shortages and widespread market manipulation. Hundreds of thousand of homes and businesses were plunged into darkness amid rolling blackouts, wholesale electricity prices skyrocketed to record levels and the state’s largest utility, PG&E Corp.’s Pacific Gas & Electric, went bankrupt. The extensive outages hit just a few years after the state decided to open its electricity market to competition.

For its part, California's economy has surpassed that of the United Kingdom to become the world's fifth largest, according to new federal data made public late last week.

California's gross domestic product rose by $127 billion from 2016 to 2017, surpassing $2.7 trillion, the data said, the Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, the UK's economic output slightly shrunk over that time when measured in U.S. dollars, due in part to exchange rate fluctuations.

The data demonstrate the sheer immensity of California's economy, home to nearly 40 million people, a thriving technology sector in Silicon Valley, the world's entertainment capital in Hollywood and the nation's salad bowl in the Central Valley agricultural heartland. It also reflects a substantial turnaround since the Great Recession.

All economic sectors except agriculture contributed to California's higher GDP, said Irena Asmundson, chief economist at the California Department of Finance. Financial services and real estate led the pack at $26 billion in growth, followed by the information sector, which includes many technology companies, at $20 billion. Manufacturing was up $10 billion.

California last had the world's fifth largest economy in 2002 but fell as low as 10th in 2012 following the Great Recession. Since then, the largest U.S. state has added 2 million jobs and grown its GDP by $700 billion.

California's economic output is now surpassed only by the total GDP of the United States, China, Japan and Germany. The state has 12 percent of the U.S. population but contributed 16 percent of the country's job growth between 2012 and 2017. Its share of the national economy also grew from 12.8 percent to 14.2 percent over that five-year period, according to state economists.

(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).

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California reportedly is about to become the first state in the U.S. — and possibly the first government in the world — to require solar power installations on all new homes.
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Monday, 07 May 2018 01:11 PM
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