California to Require Solar Panels on New Homes


“California is set to become the first state to require solar panels on all newly built single-family houses,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Not only will consumers have no choice in the matter, but neither will voters. “The state’s Energy Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the rules, which are expected to pass and take effect in 2020,” the Times explains. “The regulations, which would also apply to new multifamily buildings of three stories or fewer, don’t need the approval of the Legislature.”

The Commission estimates the average cost of new single-family home will increase by $9,500 but that utility bills will decline by roughly twice as much over the period of a 30-year mortgage. Why not let consumers decide whether the projected future savings justify the immediate up-front costs? Oh, silly me, this is California, progressive paradise, where people can do whatever they want, as long as it’s mandatory.

Median home values in California have been climbing since 1940, now approach $500,000, and are more than twice the median value nationwide, according to economist Issi Romen of BuildZoom. When factoring in the cost of living, California has the nation’s highest effective poverty rate. Skyrocketing housing costs are chiefly responsible, contends Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget Policy Center.

“Every year, the state falls roughly 100,000 units short of what it needs to keep up with housing demand,” Patrick Sisson writes in Sisson cites a 2016 McKinsey Global Institute study, which found that California real estate prices are rising three times faster than household incomes, and that more than half the state’s households cannot afford the cost of housing.

Kelly Knutsen of the trade group California Solar & Storage Association assured the Times that the new mandate would produce “a significant increase in the solar market in California.” He said it would also send “a national message that . . . we are a leader in the clean energy economy.” Permit me to translate: what’s good for the solar industry is good for the country.