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Solar fitted buildings have become increasingly more commonplace over the past ten years. While government subsidies have contributed greatly to their growth, new legislation is set to further increase the prevalence of this green energy source.

The State of California just passed a new law that will require all new homes to incorporate solar power starting in 2020. The California Energy Commission (CEC) signed off on the plan in December 2018, right around the time that Watertown, MA passed legislation to require all new commercial construction to incorporate solar. The solar requirement in Watertown also extends to existing structures greater than 10,000 sq. ft. or structures of ten or more residential units to be retrofitted with solar power.

The legislation passed in California is the first of its kind for the U.S. – California is able to pass a state-wide policy on solar due to their optimal climate. Over the past three years, the CEC has performed an analysis on how a potential solar mandate would affect all relevant stakeholders including utilities, homebuilders, solar companies, the lighting industry, and others. They found that requiring solar would be cost-effective in all climate zones of the state – the new rule would save homeowners hundreds in energy costs per year. With this analysis to back the potential requirement, California was able to successfully increase clean energy requirements under California’s Building Energy Standards. Not only does this new legislation save homeowners money, but it is also expected to slash energy use by over 50%.

While California is the first state to pass state-wide requirements for solar energy installation on homes, a poll conducted in June 2018 shows that 63% of Americans expressed some level of support for a similar mandate in their state. Of the 2,201 Americans polled, 32% somewhat support mandatory solar on new homes in their state and 31% strongly support it. Opposition broke down equally with 11% somewhat opposing a state-wide requirement and 11% strongly opposing it. The remaining 15% didn’t know or had no opinion.

With the solar industry becoming an ever-expanding force, it is uncertain how much or how little government support will back this clean energy source. Regardless, solar installations are on the rise and will only increase through 2020 with California's legislation. If other cities or states follow the lead of Watertown or California, Americans could potentially save thousands and decrease reliance on traditional energy sources.

Imaged sourced from: Dover Air Force Base

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