California officially becomes first in nation mandating solar power for new homes

‘Historic undertaking’ expected to boost number of rooftop solar panels across the Golden State.
From The Orange County Register


In this photo taken Monday, May 7, 2018, solar panels are seen on the rooftop on a home in a new housing project in Sacramento, Calif. The California Energy Commission will take up a proposal, Wednesday, May 9, 2018 , to require solar panels on new residential homes and low-rise apartment buildings up to three starting in 2020. Rich Pedroncelli AP Photo

By Jeff Collins | | Orange County Register

PUBLISHED: December 5, 2018 at 11:28 am | UPDATED: December 5, 2018 at 3:58 pm

California officially became the first state in the nation on Wednesday, Dec. 5 to require homes built in 2020 and later be solar powered.

To a smattering of applause, the California Building Standards Commission voted unanimously to add energy standards approved last May by another panel to the state building code.

Two commissioners and several public speakers lauded the new code as “a historic undertaking” and a model for the nation.

“These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country,” said Kent Sasaki, a structural engineer and one of six commissioners voting for the new energy code. “(It’s) the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.”

The new provisions are expected to dramatically boost the number of rooftop solar panels in the Golden State. Last year, builders took out permits for more than 115,000 new homes — almost half of them for single-family homes.

Wednesday’s action upholds a May 9 vote by another body, the California Energy Commission, seeking to fulfill a decade-old goal to make the state reliant on cleaner, alternative energy. The energy panel’s vote was subject to final approval by the Building Standards Commission.

The Building Standards Commission was limited to reviewing the energy panel’s rulemaking process, not the content of the standards, said commission Chairwoman Marybel Batjer. Commissioners said the process was more than sufficient, with 35 meetings, hearings and webinars held over a 15-month period. The energy panel received more than 3,000 comments from over 100 stakeholders, officials said.

While nobody spoke Wednesday in opposition to the new provisions, the commission received more than 300 letters from around the state opposing the solar mandate because of the added cost.

Energy officials estimated the provisions will add $10,000 to the cost of building a single-family home, about $8,400 from adding solar and about $1,500 for making homes more energy-efficient. But those costs would be offset by lower utility bills over the 30-year lifespan of the solar panels.

One commission member worried the mandate would make it harder for California wildfire victims to rebuild, but supporters assured him that won’t be a problem.

Homeowners will have two options that eliminate the upfront costs of adding solar: Leasing the solar panels or signing a “power purchase agreement” that pays for the electricity without buying the panels, said Drew Bohan, executive director of the California Energy Commission.

One solar-industry representative said the net savings from adding solar power will be around $40 a month or nearly $500 a year.

“These standards won’t necessarily make homes more expensive to buy. What they will do is save money on utility costs,” said Pierre Delforge, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This is not only the right thing to do for the climate, it is financially smart.”

Meanwhile, the changes won endorsements both from environmentalists and the California Building Industry Association.

“Six years ago, I was very fearful of this,” said Bob Raymer, technical director for the state building association. “But the very open arrangement that we have with the (energy commission) … brought us to the point where we can support this.”

Homebuilders have been preparing for years to meet a proposed requirement that all new homes be “net-zero,” meaning they would produce enough solar power to offset all electricity and natural gas consumed over the course of a year.

Provisions adopted Wednesday relaxed that goal a bit, requiring new homes only offset electricity used but not natural gas.

To meet net-zero energy goals, a typical house would need the capacity to produce 7 or 8 kilowatts of electricity, which wouldn’t be cost-effective, Raymer told the commission. But a modest amount of solar — producing about 3 kilowatts of power — would be cost-effective in all of California’s 16 climate zones.

In addition to the solar mandate, the new provisions tighten green homebuilding standards, with such requirements as thicker attic and wall insulation, more efficient windows and doors and improved ventilation systems. They also encourage developers to add battery storage and heat-pump water heaters to new homes.

But the heart of the update is the solar power requirement, which applies to all new residential buildings up to three stories high, including apartments. The code allows some exceptions, such as when the structures are in shady areas or when electricity rates already are lower than the cost of generating solar power.

The rules also allow for offsite solar production, so developments can build solar arrays feeding multiple homes or contract with utility-owned solar farms.

Read the full story here

HT/The ever industrious Marcus

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Phillip Bratby
December 8, 2018 2:06 am

Big brother has arrived in California. Wait for lots of blackouts.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
December 8, 2018 5:11 am

His family has had his home in Sacramento for decades.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
December 8, 2018 5:58 am

Has this “solution” been adequately piloted and audited by competent professionals?

We published in 2002 that green energy solutions would not replace fossil fuels for many decades, if ever, because of intermittency and low energy density. This was an easy call, but it was completely ignored by idiot politicians, who were anxious to green-brand themselves.

Many trillions have since been squandered on foolish green energy “solutions” that are not green and produce little useful (dispatchable) energy. Told you so, 16 years (and trillions of dollars) ago.

Any proposed “solution” should be piloted at a small scale and cost, like we do in industry – we don’t bet the company on a new idea, until it is proved to be practical and economic through a series of scale-ups.

The “Moonbeam Method”, also adopted in many other states worldwide, is to needlessly drive up the cost of grid energy, and then say “See, we can do it better with (pick one) solar, wind, etc.” A true comparison would be to compare proposed green energy “solutions” to conventional electricity prices of ~3 decades ago, suitably adjusted for real inflation. You might be surprised by the results.

I doubt that any green energy “solutions” could compete with the old grid, before the greens damaged it with the their nonsense.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
December 8, 2018 8:38 am

They learned nothing from Grey-out Davis!

Dave Fair
Reply to  Canman
December 8, 2018 10:55 am

And they got black-outs from Brown-out.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
December 8, 2018 10:54 am

Adding massive amounts of uncontrolled electric energy production at the ends of utility distribution systems. What could possibly go wrong?

Charles Higley
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
December 8, 2018 1:22 pm

30-year lifetime of the solar panels? I think not. They are over-rated as they peter out over time.

Then, there are the longterm maintenance issues. What is the cost of removing the panels, re-roofing the house and then reinstalling the panels? It will be a true pain to try to shingle around all of the panel roof fittings, also increasing the cost.

Infrastructure also needs to be maintained/repaired, probably a number of time over the life of the system. These things are NOT maintenance free.

Mariano Marini
December 8, 2018 2:12 am

Why a law if it’s “financially smart”?

John the Econ
Reply to  Mariano Marini
December 8, 2018 5:40 am

Exactly. Ideas so great that they have to be mandatory.

Reply to  John the Econ
December 8, 2018 7:01 am

Wins the thread with the 5th comment.

Donald Kasper
December 8, 2018 2:36 am

Any commission in California can declare a rule at any time to increase the prices of a home by $10,000 with no state referendum vote needed. The goal of the state is to make housing exorbitantly expensive and just for the rich and to keep the poor out. “Financially smart” means making electricity for 500% more than the cost of coal electricity.

John the Econ
Reply to  Donald Kasper
December 8, 2018 5:42 am

It has always amused me that the people who most vocally bemoan the dearth of “affordable housing” are the very same people supporting edicts that make it more expensive to build and own.

John H Adams
Reply to  John the Econ
December 8, 2018 5:28 pm

They will just propose that public funds be used to provide affordable housing as San Francisco is currently proposing.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Donald Kasper
December 8, 2018 10:59 am

The exemption for locales where the cost of electricity is less than the computed (low-balled) cost of panels is interesting. Was that a sop to publicly owned systems (e.g. LADWP, SMUD, etc.) that get low cost out-of-state and Federal and CA hydropower?

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Donald Kasper
December 8, 2018 3:08 pm

“The goal of the state is to make housing exorbitantly expensive and just for the rich and to keep the poor out…” You forgot to add “on the streets” to that sentence, which they have already done. In fact, from the news reports I have seen lately several of their cities are now practically overrun by the many squatter communities.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
December 10, 2018 1:23 pm

Financially smart for the Tom Steyers of the State, whose lobbying efforts are responsible for these types of rules. How does he cash in on this ?
By the way, who are the “Stakeholders” that are heard, when 300+ letters aren’t published or considered?
We should get the names of these “Stakeholders”, and examine their Finaancial connections to Mr. Brown (He is NOT my Governor), and the Industries that are supplying the products to make this happen.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
December 8, 2018 2:39 am

I won’t comment on whether it is worthwhile imposing solar panels on Californian’s residential properties as clearly you get a whole lot more sunshine there than in the comparatively gloomy UK.

But here roof panels don’t turn out so great. My neighbour got some on his East facing roof several years ago. His roof is now home to pigeons which have worked out how to nest and shelter under his roof, which is covered in the subsequent debris and crap to be expected. The panels themselves are also filthy and degraded, so I can’t imagine they are as efficient as they were doubtless sold to him as being. As he is now getting on a bit, he can’t clear his two storey high roof and it is all turning into a bit of a mess. Probably he can’t have the panels removed as he no longer owns his roof outright as the agreement with the solar panel installer means they have 20 year leasing rights to his roof. This has turned out to be a costly clause inserted in many domestic panel installation contracts in the U.K. and has scuppered house sales in some cases.

Politicians and bureaucrats imposing onerous green regulations on people to conform to their religious beliefs tends not to make the cause of the day popular, so pe4haps we should just rejoice at their lack of forward thinking. Perhaps in California they have a secret wish to make their own French connection.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
December 8, 2018 2:55 am

Sorry, that’s nesting under the solar panels…just to clarify.

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
December 8, 2018 4:03 am

You could exclude the pigeons easily, but you can’t do much about only 8 hours of low angle weak sun!

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
December 8, 2018 4:29 am

That debris which collects around the panels could be a source of kindling leading to fire on roofs that might otherwise be nonflammable. Organic debris caught in rain gutters is a big problem currently. They will have to come up with designs that sheds rather than collects debris in fire prone areas.

Coach Springer
Reply to  Sean
December 8, 2018 5:21 am

And in California, too.

December 8, 2018 2:47 am

All these mandatory solar panels will do is produce a huge amount of power in the middle of summer days when it is not needed, and unstabilize the grid. At night, they can switch on the diesel generators.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
December 8, 2018 3:13 am

Yes it does that in South Australia already and now they’re handing out battery subsidies-
There is no end to the taxpayer trough it seems.

So California now wants to belt their first home buyers to save the planet. It would probably be best if working families use the solar power to heat storage hot water to minimise the inevitable dearer grid pricing at night as peak and off-peak pricing regimes change. For that matter would it be better to have mandated solar hot water rather than solar panels or didn’t they do the sums?

Reply to  observa
December 8, 2018 11:01 am


Here in Southern California, at least, and at this time, we do not have peak / off-peak power prices – we just have an electricity rate that increases as one uses more electricity in the month. Plus, of course, fees and taxes.

I wonder what the regulated utility rates will do as more and more people are not using grid electricity, and the utility has to continue to pay the feed-in tariffs for the extra midday solar power.

Years ago, my family lived in a small city that had a privately-owned water company. One year, that company ran out of water. So, the USACOE was running tanker trucks from the nearest river to the town’s reservoir while they laid a temporary water line from the river to the reservoir. Mandatory restrictions were imposed on water use, and the State allowed the water company to increase its rates to make up for the shortfall resulting from lowered water usage. Get ready, California electricity rate payers.

Oh, and apparently we will have mandatory water-use restrictions in place starting in 2020.

Anyone want to buy my house at today’s market rate?

Peter Langlee
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
December 8, 2018 3:16 am

Not true, the AC requires a lot of power in the middle of the day.

Reply to  Peter Langlee
December 8, 2018 3:30 am

Well that’s a good storage use of solar power. Heat or cool the home to the max during the day while the sun shines. In my case though it pays to run the RC aircon all night as my original solar FIT scheme pays more than the peak day rate and I still enjoy off peak night storage HWS rate although that could change long term with the demise of coal.

You work the pork barrelling middle class welfare system any way you can to suit your own particular circumstances and struggletown and the renters have to cope with the fallout as best they can.

Reply to  Peter Langlee
December 8, 2018 4:40 am

California already pays other states to take excess power generated by solar.

Reply to  icisil
December 8, 2018 5:03 am

“California IMPORTS about a quarter of its electricity on average”

Walter Horsting
Reply to  Marcus
December 8, 2018 6:02 am

However, during the Solar Duck, we pay Nevada and Arizona $.08 KWH to take our excess solar energy.

Reply to  Marcus
December 8, 2018 6:04 am

But on high insolation days they have to pay to export it. Adding more solar will only exacerbate the problem.

Reply to  Marcus
December 8, 2018 6:31 am

There’s a ponzi scheme characteristic to the 100% renewable energy narrative. As long as you’re part of the initial scheme there’s the appearance of success because you can dump excess power to neighboring states. But what happens when those other states start buying into the scheme? Saturation and collapse. For example, suppose AZ and NV went 100% solar. Where would CA dump it’s excess solar power? This can only go on for so long before the whole system comes crashing down.

Reply to  Marcus
December 8, 2018 6:36 am

I guess that was the point I didn’t make very clear… I’ll try again… they are nuts ! ; )

Reply to  Marcus
December 8, 2018 2:21 pm

You can’t refute an hour by hour claim by citing a yearly average.

Mitchell Schliebs
Reply to  icisil
December 8, 2018 6:39 am


Percy Jackson
Reply to  icisil
December 8, 2018 12:46 pm

so now the argument against solar power is that there is too much of it
rather than there is not enough. Which at least is less boring than the
same tired arguments raised against it here.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
December 8, 2018 2:24 pm

Percy, I know that you are being paid to make of fool of yourself, but why are you so determined to work over time?

The argument, is that the power is not available when it’s needed, and since the only way to store electricity is with hideously expensive batteries, that make already uneconomical renewables even more so.

Reply to  icisil
December 8, 2018 2:31 pm

That can be fixed by increasing the fleet of EV recharging during the day.

Reply to  AWG
December 8, 2018 8:12 pm

And where are all the parking spaces with network distributed power points to charge them all while their owners are at work? Also you can’t slow charge EV commercial vehicles during the day so that means supercharging for them to minimise downtime and that impacts battery longevity, just as it would with autonomous cars being called up with paywave per km in future. Why Waymo has gone hybrid not full BEV for it’s autonomous people mover foray into the marketplace.

Just pull out the magic wand and wave away all the obvious mounting problems with fickle electron generation and abracadabra the law of averages will overcome a plethora of marginal sins and the mounting costs involved. Still if you believe a colourless odourless trace gas that plants enjoy is the thermostat to control the globe’s temperature then magic wands are no stretch at all.

kent beuchert
Reply to  Peter Langlee
December 8, 2018 5:35 am

The peak is when the occupants come home and cook dinner and take showers, which is during a low solar power output.

Reply to  kent beuchert
December 8, 2018 6:34 am

Then shift the working hours to adapt to the available power.
Time the vacation for the cloudy days…
Problem solved.

Reply to  Yirgach
December 8, 2018 6:55 am

Weather predictions are only good for a few days in advance, vacations need more lead time. And do you expect the entire economy to just take the cloudy days off?

Reply to  Yirgach
December 8, 2018 1:34 pm

@LarryD –
Sure take the cloudy days off, work is closed, your EV is uncharged, there is no transit and no power after sunset. Can’t even watch TV.
What else is there to do?
Oh, I got it, read AND drink.
By candlelight and remember to use the whale oil, OK?

Reply to  Peter Langlee
December 8, 2018 2:20 pm

Peter, only if the residents are home.

Dave Fair
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
December 8, 2018 11:03 am

But just think of the “free” electricity CA will supply to surrounding states and Mexico!

December 8, 2018 2:54 am

.. N.U.T.S. !

Reply to  Marcus
December 8, 2018 7:46 am

I wish I could start a business….and the government make people buy my product

Reply to  Marcus
December 9, 2018 7:29 am

State of California

“California’s Green Bank”. Since 2009.

What the “Green Bank” is and does.

Reply to  Barbara
December 9, 2018 9:00 am


Green Banks
Articles: about 8,330

Green Bank Network
Articles: about 4,840

Can just scroll through some of the article titles.

Reply to  Barbara
December 9, 2018 9:04 am

Above, Green Banks Network should be:

Reply to  Barbara
December 9, 2018 12:37 pm

U.S. “Green Banks”

NY Green Bank:
Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank:
Connecticut Green Bank:

Websites have more information on this topic.
Also available online.

Reply to  Barbara
December 9, 2018 2:17 pm

Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, November 29, 2018

“Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank Joins International Green Bank Network”, 2 pages.

Includes names of International Green Bank Network members.
Support from Climate Works Foundation.

Also available online.

Wiliam Haas
December 8, 2018 3:18 am

I want my home in California to be brought up to the new standard but since I cannot afford it I want the state to pay for it all. I am retired…I want the free solar energy system installed on my house to work both on and off grid and I will own anything installed on my property and the state will compensate me for any additional property taxes that I might have to pay. I want the state to insure that the power companies will pay me going energy rates for the energy that I supply to their grid and that the amount I am paid will be tax free. I also want the solar energy system to be designed to charge up an all electrical car that I expect the state to supply to me for free so I can do my share.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
December 8, 2018 4:22 am

That’s quite an idea. It may not be a good idea, but if you can convince some Progressive government functionary to like it, then soon enough it will become their idea. At that point, let them take all credit for the idea and reassure them of their virtuous brilliance. Then, you are almost guaranteed to have the idea implemented.
Think of the planet.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Alan Robertson
December 8, 2018 4:45 am

Ps Sell them the dream of increasing their followers on social media, if they promote “their idea”.

John the Econ
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
December 8, 2018 5:49 am

I’ve been telling the millennials who think that socialism is a great deal that as a older person, it will be a much better deal for me. I’ll be happy to let them pay for the next 20 years of my retirement and all the green goodies while they’ll never be able to achieve half the standard of living I’ve enjoyed throughout my life.

Reply to  Wiliam Haas
December 8, 2018 6:37 am

Sure you wouldn’t want a pony instead?

December 8, 2018 3:52 am

Bet dollars to doughnuts that this new CA requirement is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come.

Wonder if they’ll go as far as giving Californians a carbon card with a preset amount of CO2 emissions that each Californian is allowed to emit during a year?

Dave Fair
Reply to  kramer
December 8, 2018 11:15 am

If you believe in the individual CO2 cards, kramer, buy stock in Gas-Ex!

Reply to  kramer
December 8, 2018 4:48 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown is a UN facilitator who has managed to install a lot of the UN Global Agenda in California at the sub-national state level.

Thomas Homer
December 8, 2018 3:53 am

Is it true that solar panels degrade their metal components to produce electricity? If true then they become valueless except for the cost of disposal. I’ll pass on that mandated ‘investment’.

Reply to  Thomas Homer
December 8, 2018 2:28 pm

No, it’s not true.
While it’s true that solar panels degrade over time, it’s due to the cell itself breaking down over time as heat and random atomic motions cause the crystal lattice that makes it up, to degrade.
The metal that hold up the solar panels do degrade over time, but that’s just standard oxidation, nothing to do with the generating of power.

Sam Capricci
December 8, 2018 4:04 am

What will they do with all those panels when, after 15 or more years they are almost useless? I just did a quick comparison of my panels’ production over four years and they are down by 3% from the first year. Year over year they have been dropping and for four years they are down too.
They are just not the magical solution the environs would like, and what will they do when they become useless, landfills? Recycling?

Reply to  Sam Capricci
December 8, 2018 5:46 am

I was thinking that too.

They claim that they will save $500 per year (probably too high) and add $10,000 to the cost of a home (probably too low). Assuming the numbers are right, that means your return on investment is 20 years. However, panels degrade. So $500 in savings this year would be $455 the next, $450 the next, and so on. And the extra $10,000 is not interest free unless you paid with cash, and the vast majority of people cannot buy a house without taking a loan. A quick cursory search in California shows 15 year interest rates at about 3.8% with excellent credit. Assuming you can find a decent house at $250,000 — a big assumption in California — then adding $10,000 to a house increase the payments by about $400 per month and your total interest by about $3000.

So when it is all said and done, your return on investment will end up being at least 30 years, assuming the panels last that long. But, of course, the numbers above are probably conservative. Saving $500 per month is probably way too high, adding $10,000 to a house is probably way too low, and getting a new house in California will probably cost more than $250k. Now, in defense of this idea, once installers get proficient at installing solar panels, the cost will likely approach $10,000 and might even drop below. But even if that was true, it still is a money loser once you factor in interest and degradation.

The only exception I can think of is if the roof was facing south and the south side was completely covered in solar panels. If the panels greatly increase in efficiency, which might happen because of this, then it might make sense then too. But right now, this whole idea feels like someone who never had to struggle to pay bills, never had any experience as a home builder, and never knew a home builder making a policy. (Much like the best people who know how farmers ought to grow crops are people who never grew a crop in their life.)

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Wade
December 8, 2018 7:24 am

You forgot to include the increased cost to insure the solar panels. I bet is it about the same as the supposed “savings”.

Sam Capricci
Reply to  Tom in Florida
December 9, 2018 6:32 pm

Tom in Fl; I have not found a “cost” for insuring the solar panels. I informed my home insurance company of their existence and value and included them in the replacement costs for the home but there was very little additional cost if any that I found for them. It certainly does not compare to the savings I’ve realized. I’ve cut my annual electricity bill from about $3600 down to between $200 and $400 and for as many as 6 months of the year have no bill.

Reply to  Wade
December 8, 2018 8:26 am

“then adding $10,000 to a house increase the payments by about $400 per month …”

That would be $40 per month.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  JHB
December 8, 2018 9:46 am

Actually, if the base cost of the house is $400,000 and you add $10,000 to a 5%, 30-year mortgage, the increase is $47/month.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Wade
December 8, 2018 9:41 am

Don’t forget, you pay the $10,000 today, but the payback is all future dollars. Every year, those dollars have a lower and lower value. Not only are you likely to get a lower output, but the Present Worth of those dollars is lower as well. If you go anywhere on the web and set up the problem on one of the innumerable calculators out there, you’ll find out that with a reasonable discount rate of say, 7%, you’ll NEVER pay back the investment. You have to go down to 2.84% to get even at 30 years, not a realistic rate. That’s like the Stern report using a 0% rate for their calculations.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 8, 2018 3:06 pm

Thank you D.J. – You won the Internet today.

Reply to  Wade
December 8, 2018 10:50 am

A day or two before the Energy Commission voted on this mandate, our local radio station interviewed the Commission Chair, and he said that the mandate would “only” add $US30K to the price off a new home, and it would be paid back in the energy savings. The day after the mandate was passed, the cost increase for a new home was being stated, by the Government, to be about $US9.5K.

So, first, it is obvious that the Commission Chair can’t figure out an ROI if his life depended upon it, and, second, there was a lot of backpedaling going on on the cost. So typical of our State Government.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
December 8, 2018 11:34 am

Look, this is a statewide investment scheme to add uncontrolled electric generation to a utility system already overburdened by generation at the time of day the new generation comes online; individuals’ cost-benefit analyses are meaningless.

What are the life cycle cost vs benefits of the total system addition? It is clear that the additional generation occurs at times that offer little value to the system.

I have been out of the business of evaluating the economics of utility system additions for a long time and, additionally, have no interest in researching and performing the analyses on my own. But a cursory look shows this to be a catastrophic investment.

Reply to  Wade
December 8, 2018 2:30 pm

Even if you do pay cash for your house, you are forgoing the income that you could have made by investing that money in something else.

Reply to  MarkW
December 8, 2018 2:48 pm

The decision must be based on whether the income the cash can earn is more than the interest that would be paid on the mortgage for the purchase.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Ron Manley
December 9, 2018 11:38 am

Ron, you are addressing whether the decision to mortgage or not makes sense. MarkW is addressing the alternate investment income that must be figured into all ROI calculations.

Reply to  Ron Manley
December 9, 2018 11:43 am

No Tom, a cash purchased home is an investment, as it most likely will generate a capital gain.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Ron Manley
December 9, 2018 12:00 pm

Ron, if your cash purchase of a house generates X dollars of gain, you still must subtract out the alternate investment income you would have made if you put that cash into something else, usually calculated by using a conservative guaranteed return. So if you realized a capital gain of $15,000 on your house purchase after 10 years you then have to subtract what that amount of cash would have made in an alternate investment as described above to understand the actual gain you really made on the house investment..

Reply to  Ron Manley
December 9, 2018 12:06 pm

OK, Tom, then it all boils down to being an “investment decision.”

However, you seemed to have missed the point that if you divert your cash into an alternative investment other than a home, you now have no place to live.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Ron Manley
December 9, 2018 1:32 pm

Ron Manley December 9, 2018 at 12:06 pm

And that is why using housing to discuss ROI is not a good idea. Along with taxes, insurance, maintenance and replacement costs, rarely do you actually make money on housing over the long term. But as you say, you gotta live somewhere.
However, when you take a part of that cost such as solar panels and try to justify the initial cost with long term savings on energy you must use the alternate investment income to get the real ROI, something that proponents do not do. In addition, an alternate investment requires no action, maintenance or other costs which lower the end ROI.

Samuel Capricci
Reply to  Wade
December 9, 2018 6:27 pm

I live in Florida, calculated mine based on the costs after 30% tax credit. Electricity bills averaging about $300 per month and at around $28K for the system I expected a payback of between 7 and 8 years. The power company goes for around 2 to 4% annual increase so their increases over time would’ve shortened my payback period of between 5.5 and 7 years.

Had I left the money in my investments portfolio for 7 years at an annual growth rate of 8% the same money would be almost $49k at the end of that period, and by my calculations I would be paying out the $28k to the electric company so I’d be ahead by $21k which I could use as the price of electricity went up to cover the future cost of electricity over the same period which would be about $4560 per year by the end of that period. So I figured it was worth the initial investment and since I do a lot with data I will continue to monitor their output.

December 8, 2018 4:04 am

Presumably all the mature trees will have to be cut down near any new houses then?

Rick Johnson
December 8, 2018 4:15 am

The exodus will increase.

December 8, 2018 4:16 am

Do the panels increase the value of the home? We had a local farmer install a windmill. The local authorities increased his taxes because they deemed that his property was now more valuable. That wiped out any possible savings from generating his own electricity.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  commieBob
December 8, 2018 12:02 pm

Florida recently passed a law that prohibits an increase in property taxes solely due to the addition of solar panels.

Reply to  commieBob
December 9, 2018 3:45 pm

It seems, like a swimming pool, the value increase on resale would be negligible.

December 8, 2018 4:54 am

30 yr lifespan?

Reply to  Ack
December 8, 2018 7:18 am


Aaron Edwards
December 8, 2018 4:57 am

To get their feet wet on the idea of using solar power and it’s real world frustrations I propose that all cell phones in California be charged only by personal solar power. A month or two of this fantasticly irritating exercise will soon teach these green fools how silly the idea of using only solar power to to do even one simple task really is.

Flight Level
Reply to  Aaron Edwards
December 8, 2018 5:26 am

Oh yes, inclusive the relay towers.

Reply to  Aaron Edwards
December 8, 2018 6:15 am

Sorry, but the only thing getting wet with this scheme will be their dreams.

December 8, 2018 5:06 am

I bet firefighters will love this idea… /sarc

Reply to  Marcus
December 8, 2018 8:17 am

Indeed. It is my understanding the in the event of a house fire, the electricity to the house is cut-off to protect firefighters entering the burning building from being electrocuted. That’s fine when the electrical service can be cut-off at the street. How do you “turn off” solar panels when the panels are surrounded by flames? Will firefighters be compelled to allow the solar panels to burn up before entering what’s left of the building?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  PaulH
December 8, 2018 9:52 am

The National Electrical Code requires accessible cutoffs to kill the power going into the net metering equipment. However, the panels are still live on the roof. Inasmuch as they are typically arrayed in 600 volt dc “strings”, it can lead to an especially exciting exercise for the firefighter when they try to vent the fire by cutting a hole in the roof.

P.S. Why the HECK won’t the website remember my “Post Comment” info anymore???

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 9, 2018 7:39 am

Try typing the first character of your “Post Comment” into something like the Name field, the browser should then show what it remembers for that particular field. Then click on the pop-up to paste in the data. You need to do this for Name and Email. I see this behavior using FF v63.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Yirgach
December 9, 2018 8:42 am

Even typing the first few letters doesn’t work on FireFox. I have to re-type the whole thing for both strings. It used to be that whenever I came to the site the “Name” and “Email” fields were populated before I started to write anything. I’m also locked into a lower version since I’m still running Vista Home Premium on my home machine.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 9, 2018 7:49 am

Because it’s not the website but your browser?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Rainer Bensch
December 9, 2018 8:39 am

It’s been that way ever since the blow up the site had a few months back, across multiple devices using different browsers.

December 8, 2018 5:22 am

I like the idea of solar panels on peoples roofs, don’t like the idea of government mandating it, “This is good for you, so you will do it.” I like the idea of being able to sell excess energy from solar panels back to the grid; don’t like the idea of the government preventing people from doing that.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  leowaj
December 8, 2018 9:26 am

The issue with people selling their excess energy back to the grid is that the government should not be mandating it, most especially at retail. Truth be told, excess solar power is probably, in most cases, worth considerably less than wholesale.

Reply to  leowaj
December 8, 2018 2:33 pm

Unless you are practically living off grid, there’s no way a set of panels on just your roof will result in “excess” power.

Dave Fair
Reply to  MarkW
December 10, 2018 11:33 am

Generating electricity when it is already in excess is, by definition, excess generation.

Crispin in Waterloo
December 8, 2018 5:23 am

The first country to mandate rooftop solar power was Botswana in 1983. It was for hot water systems, previously all electric, and that power was imported.

The precursor was that USAID built a number of staff homes and put solar water heaters on all of them, using a newly available local product which was a fat tube system.

About thirty years later South Africa required all government subsidized housing to have them. It led to the creation of a very good National Standard for the products and certification of installers.

Israel had a lot of rooftop solar, even on apartment buildings, in 1983 but I don’t recall there being a mandate.

Solar PV? Pshaw! Uneconomic.

Kaiser Derden
December 8, 2018 5:29 am

so now a new home buyer will have a huge extra CO2 debt (the CO2 to produce, ship and install the panels) before they live in the house 1 day … just like the Tesla in the driveway … installing a good heat pump and just in time at nat gas water heaters would save more money and generate less CO2 over a lifetime and not incur an upfront extra CO2 debt … efficient and green without being stupid …

Reply to  Kaiser Derden
December 8, 2018 10:17 am

Don’t forget solar hot water heaters. The only sensible add on.

Doug Huffman
December 8, 2018 5:34 am

Elsewhere is the complaint about PV waste as hazardous material to be disposed.

December 8, 2018 5:47 am

Well California is the poorest state per capita in America when adjusted for cost of living. This will only make the people poorer.

kent beuchert
December 8, 2018 5:50 am

I don’t understand the $8400 for 3 measly kilowatts. Fed subsidies were (and I assume still are)
$6000 for 6 kilowatts. Six kilowatts generally max out at around 4.5 kw actually produced, so I assume 3 KWs will max out at around 2 KWs. I know California has lots of sun, probably averaging around 6 suns per day (producing roughly 12 kWhrs for a 3 kw panel setup) . I don’t know what state rules govern solar power dumped onto the grid or grabbed from the grid, but I don’t understand such a small solar array. I’ve never heard of anyone installing solar panels with a nameplate capacity of only 3 kilowatts.
Of course, incorporating unreliable power generation on a larger scale multiples the side effect costs that will drive up prices to maintain duplicative, backup capacity. I’m sure this was never considered when California was calculating the overall costs for the consumers.
When the molten salt small nuclear reactors appear, California will look like the stupidest state on the planet. Which it already does, actually.

Joel O’Bryan
December 8, 2018 5:52 am

Tesla-Solar City welfare at new homeowners’ expense.

And those “engineers” have no clue how destabilizing it is to the grid to have so many net metering installations on days when the clouds are moving in and quickly removing power from the grid only to have it return just as fast when the clouds move out.

Bruce Cobb
December 8, 2018 6:36 am

Here’s an idea: how about we kick Kookifornia out of the U.S.? It sure would be good riddance. I am so tired of them trying to tell the rest of us how to live.

December 8, 2018 6:39 am

I would love to get Anthony’s take on this. I know he has solar panels on his house by choice, and has had them for a little while. It would interesting to me to hear what his experience has been as far as how the panels have performed over time, repairs, efficiency, etc.

Reply to  JR
December 8, 2018 8:53 pm

Well Anthony like me with my solar FIT scheme is a rational early adopter. Can’t speak for Anthony but I’m also rational in understanding the fallacy of composition with 100% take-up which is the Green Utopia. The fallacy of composition problem is most easily understood by Anthony and I taking a stool to stand on at the game or concert. It’s a zero sum game should all the attendees do the same and welcome to the problem of a communal power grid running 100% on solar panels and wind turbines. Who among us will be providing the frequency and voltage control we all need for starters? Solar doesn’t work when the sun doesn’t shine which only leaves wind-
They’re going to get rid of fossil fuel generation and transport altogether remember.

Tom s
December 8, 2018 7:06 am

Yay we’re going to make it colder outside with solar panals mandated by big bro!! This is awesome man, pass the doobie!

Gordon Dressler
December 8, 2018 8:50 am

A law that indiscriminately requires ALL new homes to have solar power has the following unintended consequences:
— ensures that building contractors will install the cheapest possible solar panels and associated electrical control and inverter components, thereby saddling future home buyers with poor quality, less reliable technology; that is, it’s no skin off the builder’s nose if the solar installation completely degrades and fails after 7 years if the builder only has to offer a 5-year warranty
— ensures that certain homes will be even more solar-PV inefficient due to shading from nearby trees and/or nearby buildings, and for PV installations on flat roof surfaces that are oriented north-south (less inefficient over a year) versus east-west (more efficient over a year)
— ensures that trees that shade significant portions of residential solar panels during any portion of a year will be greatly pruned, or totally removed . . . thereby adding to urban “blight”
— ensures that certain homeowners will have additional maintenance hours/costs (e.g., in semi-arid areas with blowing dust or in areas with large leaf falls in autumn, homeowners will need to periodically clean the solar PV panels) . . . and what about the mountain areas of California that have many months of snowfall during the year?
— ensures that neighbors will occasionally have unwelcome sun glinting into their widows from reflections off the solar roof panels on adjacent/nearby buildings
— ensures that the homeowner’s insurance rates will increase above that of an equivalent house without rooftop PV solar (due to extra liability for roof antenna installers, roof/chimney repairmen, house painters, additional danger of electrical fire, etc.)
— possibly increase the probability of lighting strike(s) due to running a conductive metal path to rooftop height . . . that is, solar panels may prove to be effective lightning rods
— ensures that certain homeowners, those who do a life cycle cost estimate for their specific solar PV installation and site location and find they’ll only continue to lose more money over time, will act accordingly and have said solar installation stripped off their home as soon as possible (that assuming the same police state doesn’t pass another law that would make that a felony offense).

Reply to  Gordon Dressler
December 8, 2018 10:55 am

Please reread the article. It appears that there are many exceptions, possibly enough to drive the proverbial truck through. But I fear for trees.

Gordon Dressler
Reply to  Retired_Enggineer_Jim
December 8, 2018 4:32 pm

Uhhhh . . . there is a journalist write-up of what the new law says and doesn’t say, and then there are the ACTUAL legal requirements (“standards”) of the law.

Do you really mean to imply you trust what one newspaper publishes??? If so, I pity you.

December 8, 2018 9:05 am

Knowing how California government works (or doesn’t), I expect a new annual tax soon to be levied on all homes with solar power.

Ian Macdonald
December 8, 2018 9:10 am

What about houses whose position or orientation mean that PV output would be too low to justify the outlay?

This could have serious negative environmental effects, for example resulting in the felling of all trees which put shadow across the house at any time of day that the mandated panels would give significant output.

December 8, 2018 9:28 am

I think the Bullet Train showed be required to have solar panels.

Meanwhile, I expect that some people will ‘remodel’ older homes down to the foundations to escape this madness while building a new home.

December 8, 2018 10:00 am

Historic?? More like political hysterics…

December 8, 2018 10:21 am

So when I’m getting ready to sell my house, it will increase in price by $10,000 since people won’t have to spend that much money adding solar panels to it.

Reply to  Karl Lembke
December 8, 2018 2:36 pm

No, they’ll have to spend $2,000 getting rid of them.

December 8, 2018 10:26 am

Did the California government give any thought to those countries and their Utopian environmental conditions for the mining and manufacturing? Did they give any thought to child labor. Maybe the government could be sued for aiding poor environmental conditions and child labor. I am sure the UN will get right on it.

Baby its Cold outside.

Reply to  nc
December 8, 2018 10:33 am

Could you please explain how any of this contributes to child labor?

Reply to  Ron Manley
December 9, 2018 7:33 am

Just do a search for “Rare Earth Metals Child Labor”
For example:

There are hundreds of articles about this issue.

December 8, 2018 10:37 am

California, more specifically soon to be ex Governor Brown, is obsessed with “leading the world” in virtue signaling and doesn’t care what it costs or who it hurts. Housing shortage? No problem, we’ll put roadblocks to building new homes. Influx of people needing welfare assistance to survive? No problem, we’ll tax the corporations and people more while encouraging more indigents to come. Budget problems? Again no problem because there will be an unlimited source of new funds by taxing CO2 producers until there’s a surplus. One party rule for the state government? What’s the problem? And we can keep it that way indefinitely.

December 8, 2018 10:56 am

This will be big business for China and environmentalist arbitrage with good perceptions on a forward-looking basis. That said, the geography and risk profile may actually justify this application. Health care and other high availability applications (perhaps the Internet) will, of course, connect to an energy producer/converter that can be reasonably isolated (i.e. reliable, sustainable) from the environment, without the addition of toxic battery buffers.

Dave Fair
Reply to  n.n
December 8, 2018 11:48 am

China recently cut back its subsidies for solar generation and, as a result, the domestic market for panels has collapsed. China is now dumping its excess panel production on the rest of the world.

December 8, 2018 11:12 am

Built our house prior to all the code madness a few years back. If this had been law then, it would have required cutting down of mature trees that now provide shade to much of the house on hot summer days, thus requiring the installation of air conditioning (we have none, it’s not necessary with good insulation and shade). So the power generated by the solar panels would have more than been used up by the air conditioning unit during the time when the trees provide cooling naturally. I would estimate the added cost (solar + A/C) to be something on the order of $30,000 in reality, something which our state legislators apparently have no connection to. $30K for two systems to counter each other. I guess that makes perfect sense in CA.

John Cherry
December 8, 2018 11:54 am

My 4kW solar panel array, installed in February, 2016, cost just north of £5,000 sterling. Here in the cloudy North West of England, it generates approximately 3mWh per annum. We have had no trouble with the panels, and they can easily be protected against nesting birds if necessary. I find the principle of individual microgeneration entirely logical, and would like to see solar water heating, solar PV or ground source heat pumps mandated on most new buildings in the UK. A particularly obvious application would be installation of large arrays on the roofs of NHS hospitals, all of which have tall buildings with large surface areas, and all of which consume large amounts of electricity throughout the daylight hours for obvious reasons. I don’t really understand the hostility to the concept expressed here. If residents of a sunny state can use solar power to run AC units or charge electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, why on earth not?

Reply to  John Cherry
December 8, 2018 2:38 pm

Cost. If it made sense, then the government would not have to use the police powers of the State to motivate people to do something.

Furthermore, £5,000 in solar panels is also £5,000 at risk and £5,000 lost in opportunity costs.

In California, by requiring an additional $10,000, and I believe that they grossly understate the real costs for marketing reasons, that is added to a mortgage so roughly double will be paid for the panels, plus that also adds $10,000+ in annual taxable value to the property.

Again, if it makes so much fiscal sense, why require it by the power of the gun?

Reply to  John Cherry
December 8, 2018 2:38 pm

If you find it odd that people object to the government ordering them to waste money on things they don’t want, then there really is no hope for you.

PS: How long ago were you assimilated?

John Cherry
Reply to  MarkW
December 9, 2018 11:59 am

I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Do you mean things like seat belts in cars, crash helmets for motorcyclists and ear defenders for workers exposed to ambient noise levels over 90 dBA? Careful how you answer. I was a surgeon and I have seen the adverse effects of MVA’s and the like.

I ‘m afraid I don’t understand the question you ask at the end. You’ll have to put it in meaningful English. For your information, however, I am politically right of centre in UK terms, and unconvinced by the DAGW narrative. Nonetheless, I recognise that fossil fuels are a finite resource which will one day be exhausted, that they cause pollution, that they distort international politics, and that they will have to be replaced one day, in one generation or another. I therefore support the use of renewable energy and have invested my own money in microgeneration, just as I understand Anthony has. You may not be aware of the stringent targets which have been set for UK emissions. If UK governments, which have set them, intend to meet them, then in my view they should mandate the use of renewables at least in those environments which they control.

I thought this website was about analysis of the nature and cause of climate changes, not the promotion of fossil fuels on principle. I think CTM is right, and that more rationality and less knee-jerk reactions from contributors would be a step forward.

December 8, 2018 11:54 am

It’s a left coast thing.

“B.C. has unveiled its long-awaited plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The plan, called Clean B.C., requires all new buildings to be net-zero energy by 2032, and all new cars sold to be zero-emission by 2040.”

“It said every building built in B.C. will have to be “net-zero-energy ready” by 2032, meaning efficient enough that their total energy needs could be met with renewable energy sources like solar panels.”
Dec 05, 2018

Marlow Metcalf
December 8, 2018 12:50 pm

There were two stories from Germany a few years ago.
The first was that they had to stop adding the solar-voltaic panels because the power grid was getting confused by the many inputs.
The second story was that it was only in the best case that Germany with solar panels was using the same electricity producing fuel as without the panels. Best case situations rarely happen so this means they almost always burn more fuel with the solar panels as without them.
Do they really think that cool and mellow California is going to have a more flexible and controlled system than the, you will be orderly and efficient Germany?

December 8, 2018 1:15 pm

Gotta love the academics “wont necessarily make homes more expensive ” I guess the panels will fall from the sky on the backs of unicorns and be installed by the panel fairies. A small sprinkling of magical utility dust and they will be grid connected.

Reply to  yarpos
December 8, 2018 2:31 pm

Can you say “Rent Seeking” ?

December 8, 2018 1:29 pm

Get out while the market is up and now there is this other advantage selling an existing home in a market with jacked up prices for new homes.

December 8, 2018 2:31 pm

Thou shalt be a tax credit token and vote to keep the tax credits flowing.

December 8, 2018 4:34 pm

I wonder how this will work in a new housing development, it would trend toward the area going way over voltage as all the systems export. I am guessing they just want to herd people toward the pay for someone elses solar farm option?

Joel O'Bryan
December 8, 2018 7:24 pm

Apparently, and quite to my amazement, the sun shines 24/7/365 on California rooftops.

Who knew?

Russ R.
December 8, 2018 7:57 pm

What is the story behind the “California Building Standards Commission”? Is this a commission that is publicly elected, or are the members appointed by elected officials?
The solar panel industry stands to gain a substantial customer base, that would not choose to be customers if given the choice. So did the industry provide politcal contributions? Was there bribes involved? Does anyone even care anymore?
I am a firm believer that consumers do what is in their own best interests, and only need coercion to do what is in the best interests of someone else. This seem more likely to benefit someone other than the homeowner.

December 9, 2018 1:18 am

Leftists’ eco-wacko policies have already made California’s housing market the most expensive and least available in the US.

I’m sure forcing all new homes to be solar powered will really help lower housing costs and increase supply…

December 9, 2018 2:13 pm

I have wondered for some time why we see LESS solar panels than more. If it were really a cheaper and more viable energy source it would have taken off on it’s own merits. It did not and does not today.

December 10, 2018 4:05 pm

What do they think will happen when they put black solar panels on roofs in the Mojave Desert. 110 deg F July temperatures outside AND a giant heat absorber sitting on your roof!

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