May 9th, 2018 might be taken as a revolutionary date in terms of going solar, since that’s the day when the California Energy Commission unanimously voted obligatory solar panels for all the houses built from 2020 onwards.
California is one of the states that already have quite solid energy efficiency standards, and this will only improve the situation even more, as homes will be built from the very beginning in such a way to have the possibility of balancing their grid usage with solar.
Even though the resolution is still rough on the edges and many details remain to be decided upon, one thing is very clear – it is significantly going to lower the entire cost of going solar. From buying the panels, to their installment, permitting and interconnection, everything is going to be much more affordable. Eventually, solar energy could end up being the cheapest energy source, and experts from Action Solar tell us how.
How Do the New Rules Function?
It is not so easy to grasp all the new regulations, but the essence is more or less that all the lower residential buildings will need to have a photovoltaic system which meets the minimum required qualifications.
Their electrical output per year needs to be equal to or greater than the electrical usage of the residence per year.
Of course, all these rules shouldn’t be taken word for word, meaning that not exactly all lower buildings will have PV systems, and that there will be some exceptions in cases where it’s estimated they won’t have full efficiency.
But the broad idea is that every home is going to have the solar capacity, and this new regulation means an additional 80,000 new solar installations every year, in California, where the average is already 100.000 annually.
The above mentioned annual electric output is calculated based on the surface of a residence and 16 climate zones determined in California.
How Does This Actually Save People’s Money?
The most apparent way the new rules will contribute to saving money in households is by balancing their electricity bills. For example, for the spent 3800kWh, in 2020, without the solar alternative, a homeowner would have to pay $760.
Of course, solar panels also represent an additional cost which will be reflected in increased mortgage payment, but even with that cost, saving is still significant.
The estimates indicate that with the new rules, a household will save $80 a month on the electricity bill, while the monthly mortgage payment will be increased for $40.
Of course, all these calculations are based on the price of $3.17/watt, but it’s quite likely the costs will be even lower, and savings even higher.
How Will the New Rules Lower the Solar Prices?
Current high prices of solar panels installation are actually caused by the so-called “soft costs” which include marketing, permitting, overhead, sales tax, labor, and of course, the installer’s profit.
All these costs will be either eliminated, like the marketing costs, or significantly lowered, such as inspections and permitting. Southern California solar companies estimate that from the calculated average cost of $2.90/W for solar installation in California in 2017, less than half of that is due to the hardware cost.
What’s more, as the volume of manufacture increases, the price of the solar equipment will decrease. And don’t forget the incentives and tax returns, which may be reduced since solar is not so new in California anymore, but are still a significant source of saving.
Whatever your opinion of solar energy is, the future is coming and California’s law is aimed at making it cheaper and more accessible to all, thus making it more accepted as the standard and normal.