A Great Decision for Californians
The decision by the California Energy Commission to require all new homes to be built with solar will bring more jobs, healthier communities, lower carbon emissions and a better energy service for Californians. The decision is a vote of confidence in home solar and batteries playing a key role in our future energy system. Rooftop solar is a simple and cost-effective way to bring affordable clean energy to the state. By utilizing existing infrastructure, such as our homes, we reduce spend on poles and wires to transmit power, lowering costs for all customers using the electricity grid and making our overall energy system more resilient and reliable.
The decision is a win-win for both home builders and homeowners. In addition to cash solar purchases and upfront solar service contracts, Sunrun offers solar as a service, which means that there is zero upfront cost to installing rooftop solar and our Brightbox home battery service in California. Sunrun installs, maintains, warranties and guarantees production for the lifetime of the service agreement at no additional cost. With solar electricity priced significantly less than traditional electricity, solar households benefit from considerable monthly savings.
Solar communities will also benefit from a boom in local employment. Approximately one-quarter of residential solar project costs - such as customer acquisition, installation labor, permitting and interconnection - are spent locally.
The production and transmission of electricity is responsible for a large part of California’s harmful carbon emissions. By incorporating clean and renewable solar energy into California’s energy system, this standard will play an important role in aiding California to reach its climate and renewable energy goals.
We’re already seeing the potential of solar energy stored in home batteries. By aggregating a small portion of the energy stored in home batteries, we’re able to deploy this energy to meet electricity demand when it’s at a peak, replacing the need for polluting and inefficient gas peaker plants. As smart home technology develops and becomes more widespread, homes equipped with solar and batteries will be optimised for this future technology.
With this type of clean energy championship, California continues to establish itself as an environmental and economic leader.
There are a lot of questions and misconceptions out there about this new law. Here are answers to commonly asked questions and a link to GreenTech Media’s comprehensive summary.
1. What is the new solar energy standard recently passed in California and when will it take effect?
The state of California publishes energy efficiency building standards in 3-year intervals that prescribe energy efficiency measures for new homes. In line with the state's objective of making new homes net zero contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, the 2019 EE Building Standards that go into effect on 1/1/20 will both reduce energy usage and prescribe solar PV systems to offset remaining electricity usage of the home with clean, on-site produced electricity.
2. Will the new standards increase the price of a new home?
It depends on how the builder opts to pay for the solar system. If the builder buys the solar energy system, the price the builder pays will likely be rolled into the sales price of the home. However, with Sunrun’s offering of solar as a service, the builder can waive all upfront cost of solar while delivering savings to the homebuyer. In those cases, sales prices of homes should not be impacted by the addition of solar energy.
3. Are any new homes exempt from the new policy?
Generally, all new homes that require a building permit issued on or after 1/1/20 need to abide by the 2019 Standards. However, if it does not make sense for a home to feature solar, e.g. because of shade casted by surrounding obstructions or insufficient roof space, builders may apply for exemptions from solar.
4. How will the new standards impact my monthly utility bill?
It depends on your utility and other specific factors, however, in most cases and on average we expect to see considerable savings on homes with solar over expected utility bills of homes without solar.
5. How will the new standards impact my mortgage and utility bills?
The new mandate is expected to increase monthly mortgage rates by about $40 and reduce utility rates by about $80. It will not impact your mortgage if you have a solar service agreement, such as Sunrun offers customers. Furthermore, with these new standards, nearly all homeowners will have an opportunity to save on their utility bills.
6. Who will be responsible for maintenance or repairs of the system?
If the solar energy system is sold with the home, generally, the homeowner will bear the full responsibility of ownership, including maintenance and repairs. Alternatively, with a solar service agreement, the solar service provider, i.e. Sunrun, guarantees the system's solar production and is responsible for maintenance and repairs for the a period of 20 years.
7. "I'm all for solar, but why should the government be mandating what I do with my home?"
The people of California have repeatedly demanded actions to tackle climate change and harmful localized pollution. Moving to zero-emissions homes is a hugely positive step for the state. Just like we have a fire code to prevent fires, requiring assets that decrease the carbon footprint of a home is a direct response to a need for community health and the prevention of increased fossil fuel use. Nobody questions the fact that all new homes are connected to the electric grid and require electricity. Updating the building code to include improved energy efficiency and solar energy is a common sense step to increase access to affordable clean energy and manage the growing costs of our electric grid. Solar and especially solar with battery storage is a key solution for reducing the growing expense of costly infrastructure, while improving the safety and reliability of the grid and addressing climate change.