What the California Solar Mandate Means for East Coast Solar Installations
If you follow the latest national news on solar power, the United States was rocked with exciting news recently from California: starting in 2020, all new home construction in California will require solar panel installations. Given that it is one of the most wealthy and populous states, as well as one of the sunniest, California has the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world by offering a case study in what it means to have a very solar-driven energy economy.
The bill is not without controversy, since affordable housing can be hard to find in California and solar panels add to that, but the way this unanimous decision was reached had to do with the long-term benefits: living in a home with solar power is so much more affordable that having the cost of the panels built into the mortgage is a great way to spread out the cost while receiving the benefits incrementally.
While California is not an East Coast state, and the attitudes toward renewable energy of those on the Pacific side tend to be more progressive than those of the mid-Atlantic, there are a few changes coming as a result of this mandate that will positively impact East Coast Solar as well.
A Boost to Solar Manufacturers Benefits All
Economies of scale work such that being able to produce more of a product usually lowers the price. The promise of a huge new market for solar panels is likely to produce lower prices for both foreign and domestic solar panels, and the efforts to incorporate them into all house types in California may result in innovative installation procedures, tools, or products that make the process safer, easier, and more efficient. These innovations would probably have happened anyway, but the sheer number of households that will receive solar power in the coming years – a boost in solar sales of around 14% over 4 years according to Green Tech Media – will mean that we reach innovative and money-saving discoveries a little faster.
If Successful, the Solar Expectation Could Impact Real Estate
While the rest of the country doesn’t always follow California’s lead, the future may hold other mandates related to solar power; some cities across the country have already implemented solar power requirements for new construction. As people come to expect solar power as part of a home in certain areas of the country, real estate developers are realizing that having solar panels boosts the sale price of a home. In California, at least after a while, the added value of a solar array may simply be the value of the components of the system. However, in areas where solar hasn’t quite become ubiquitous, such as many East Coast states, people who want a home with solar power without having to install it after purchase may actually find such homes more attractive and offer at higher prices.
Adding a solar power system in an East Coast, Mid-Atlantic state makes sense for the personal benefit of receiving reliable, inexpensive energy, but as more people around the country get used to the idea of solar being “built-in” to a mortgage price, your solar home would also rise in value. Now may be the perfect time to invest in solar in order to reap the benefits when some of those solar embracing Californians decide to move to other places.
Experimentation with Multi-Unit Solar Gives New Options
As Multi-Housing Pro points out, the mandate applies to low-rise apartments and other multi-unit housing structures, meaning that some form of solar electricity will be available to them. Given complaints that the solar mandate mostly benefits the wealthy homeowners of California, this inclusion of apartments means two things: some of the benefits of solar energy will be passed on to more affordable/smaller housing, and two, new innovations will be possible in solar panel use for multi-unit buildings.
As developers find unique and more cost-effective methods to incorporate solar power for apartment buildings, those who own or develop apartment buildings in the East Coast Mid-Atlantic states stand to benefit from following their lead. The mandate ensures that such developers won’t be able to “give up” on the projects if they seem expensive at first, but they will still be motivated by the possibility of saving some money, spurring innovation in solar energy structures. Solar panel systems are already available in the Mid-Atlantic region for buildings like multi-unit homes, office buildings, and warehouses, but the next few years may see a continued uptake of the idea that your business investment is benefited by having more solar on the roof.
Long-term, solar power puts control in consumer hands
California was able to pass this legislation because they realized that solar power benefits the consumer, both in the provision of free electricity and in the lower dependence on outside companies for electricity rates. “The California Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add $9,500 to the price tag of constructing a new home, but save $19,000 in energy bills and maintenance over the course of 30 years,” according to Futurism.
While some might argue that this bill takes away the consumer’s choice, the resulting mandate actually gives consumers back a lot of control that saves them money. Rather than an energy monopoly that can overcharge for kilowatt hours, the solar energy movement allows customers to receive real incentives for their investment. Every time they turn off the lights or adjust the thermostat a little, they are reducing the payback time for their panel systems through net-metering that allows them to sell power back to the energy companies, building a power bill credit rather than just spending money on them.
It has been exciting to see solar stocks soaring at the news of this mandate, since it means that stable growth is on the way and solar companies have the space to innovate. California is all in on solar energy: want to find out if it’s time for you to join the solar power movement? Contact us to learn more about what solar energy can do for your West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland or Pennsylvania home or business. Our zero-pressure consultants offer a fast and free economic evaluation.