California’s Solar Panel Mandate

May 25, 2018

by John McClaughry

The state of California, always eager to lead the green parade, has now decreed a solar PV requirement for new homes.

Under the new requirements, decreed by the California energy commission , builders must take one of two steps: make individual homes available with solar panels, or build a shared solar-power system serving a group of homes. In the case of rooftop panels, they can either be owned outright and rolled into the home price, or made available for lease on a monthly basis.

The requirement is expected to add $8,000 to $12,000 to the cost of a home.

The spokesman for the building industry trade group said “Our druthers would have been to have this delayed another two or three years,” But he was not surprised. “We’ve known this was coming,” he said.

For residential homeowners, based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the standards will add about $40 to an average monthly payment, but save consumers $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills.

Now most homeowners persuaded that installing solar PV panels on their new home would cost them $40 a month, but save them $80 a month and increase the value of the home, would likely say yes to that deal. But that’s not good enough for the Golden Nanny State. It has to force them to take the deal if they want a new home. How long before this bad idea turns up in Montpelier?

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ernie Amsden May 25, 2018 at 10:46 pm

About 3 years ago, I investigated the wisdom of having a solar array installed on my roof. To make it short, the payback would have taken 30 years. From what I hear, most solar panels are expected to have a life of about 20 years.

Many people could shorten that payback, but speaking as one who will not accept a government subsidy for a personal installation, I could not. Until solar energy is able to compete in a free market, our society should stop the rush!!


Deanne May 26, 2018 at 1:45 am

I admire your refusal to accept a government payback for an installation. I, too, believe this way. I know people who have gotten government-paid greenhouses. I refused to apply. It takes me longer to earn the money and pay my own way, but I won’t take the government’s free cheese.


William Hays May 25, 2018 at 10:58 pm

Is it actually possible to buy solar panels that haven’t been subsidized by the various governments? Methinks not.


Carol D May 27, 2018 at 7:52 pm

There are companies that will install solar panels completely free of charge. The homeowner benefits in electric bills that are about half of what they had been and the solar company makes money selling power back to the power companies. I’ve had 4′ of snow on the roof of my house in Vermont, so I don’t know how well compulsory solar would work here vs California and other states with less snow than we get here. I don’t know how well they’d work on a metal roof when the snow decides to migrate to the ground. That could cause some stress, I would assume, on whatever is anchoring the panels to your roof.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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