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California has become the first state to require solar panels on all new homes

By mongeese · 38 replies
Dec 9, 2018
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  1. The decision was determined in a unanimous vote by the California Building Standards Commission on Wednesday. “These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country,” said Kent Sasaki, structural engineer and commissioner. “It’s the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce consumption of fossil fuels.”

    While it’s been popular with environmentalists, many Californians have expressed their unhappiness with the move. Victims of the recent wildfires were concerned if it would make it harder for them to rebuild their homes. The Building Standards Commission received over 3,000 comments from over 100 stakeholders, in addition to 300 letters from consumers that complained about the additional costs.

    “With median home prices in California already more than double the national average, this decision will make it even more difficult for the average Californian to afford a home,” claimed a letter from Assemblyman James Gallagher.

    Rather than targeting the 7-8 kilowatts the average home consumes, the solar panel minimum is as low as a quarter of that to make sure that consumers aren’t paying more than they need to. But to shrink the gap between sustainable and fossil fuel provided power, electricity saving measures such as better insulation must also been implemented. These will cost about $1,500 per home.

    The commission claims that they’ve evaluated the additional costs and determined that they’re not a problem. Over a typical 30-year mortgage, they say, the additional cost of the solar panels is $40 per month while the electricity savings are $80 per month.

    If the upfront cost can’t be worked into the mortgage, leasing options are available for the 30-year lifespan of the panels. A new system, “power purchase agreements,” is also available and will let households buy their electricity at standard rates from business-owned panels installed on their own roof or at solar farms.

    Pierre Delforge, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that solar panels are the obvious choice from every standpoint. “This is not only the right thing to do for the climate, it is financially smart.”

    Permalink to story.

  2. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,865   +2,169

    Well I hate most if what Califonia does but I can get behind this. Frankly, if you're building a new home you can afford this. Same argument can be made with a new car vs a used car.

    Fact of the matter is that we need to move towards different types of energy sources. I live a few miles from a coal power plant and the air quality sucks. Regardless of your opinion on goibal warming, we will run out of fossil fuels and living near coal powerplants sucks.
  3. Vulcanproject

    Vulcanproject TS Evangelist Posts: 715   +1,011

    $10k extra up front with an average cost of around $500k for a new home while getting value back as long as you live in it (energy savings) seems like no big deal. It doesn't help initial cost of course but then don't buy a new home.

    The future of sustainable energy is going to cost the world a bunch more than the cheap party it has been having the past 100 years from fossil fuels. The sooner people realise this the better.
  4. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,865   +2,169

    Well, actually, solar is getting so cheap that in some places it's cheaper than fossil fuels. Dubai built a 230megawatt solar station instead of their original plans of using natural gas with plans to expand it to a gigawatt level power station. If we attach batteries to a house and consider them appliancies, we can stablize the grid. People often just look at lithium ion and lead acid batteries being expensive, and they are, but in a home energy density isn't a very large problem. There are very cheap battery chemistries where they might have to be as large as a furnace for a single family home, but they wouldn't cost much more than a new oven. Similar energy storage out of a lithium battery could cost $10,000+. Battery weight and size only really matter when looking at portability
  5. Vulcanproject

    Vulcanproject TS Evangelist Posts: 715   +1,011

    Behave though :p solar power in Dubai is not very representative of most of the planet, especially the areas that consume the most power.

    For those areas, largely developed western countries, the majority of them are going to have to accept swallowing the considerably increased costs of renewable energy production.

    The foreseeable future of energy is more expensive one way or another. This is why it's such an uphill battle, people prefer destroying the planet if it saves a buck. It's always been that way, and that attitude is the one that will be hardest to change.
    psycros likes this.
  6. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,865   +2,169

    I was careful to point out some places. The cost continues to drop as production increases which will help longterm. If you consider total cost, not just initial, fossil fuels are more expensive. If you don't want to look environmental costs, something relatable to everyone is crime and property costs. Several neighborhoods surrounding my close coal powerplant had drastic drops in property value. Millions of dollars were lost to middle class families. Crime went up as rent got cheap and now more tax money goes to policing the area. Renewable energy isn't just some avocado eating millennial pipe dream.

    The way I look at it is, "what, are we going to make a better planet for nothing?"
    mbrowne5061 and Reehahs like this.
  7. xxLCxx

    xxLCxx TS Addict Posts: 231   +153

    Huh??? They keep getting cheaper by the day. Especially wind power has still a universe of applications to come. There are small (inaudible) turbines, that can produce 1KW or more. There are huge ones, which can be placed in the sea (they don't disturb anyone as well and space is almost limitless).
    Therefore, electricity is not going to become more expensive.
    Reachable likes this.
  8. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 378   +405

    I presume that California isn't mandating only installing solar panels. The cost of installation, battery storage, and grid connection will bring the total closer to $35,000 per home.
    psycros and p51d007 like this.
  9. xxLCxx

    xxLCxx TS Addict Posts: 231   +153

    Why would you need a battery when you're connected to the grid? Furthermore, it's funny that you mention the 'grid connection' as an extra cost for renewable energy. Do you go without normally?!?
    Over here (Germany), you need no batteries and the grid connection is standard either way.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  10. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,865   +2,169

    You're already connected to the grid and if you read my other posts, there are cheap batteries available if energy density isnt a problem. In the same way that a water heater or furnace takes up room in your house, so could a large battery pack. Energy density isn't a problem if you have a lot of space which, in a home, you have plenty of. Large scale lithium ion or lead acid battery systems would need to be used in large apartment or office buildings, but it's doable. It might be as simple as digging an extra basement floor
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
    xxLCxx likes this.
  11. Vulcanproject

    Vulcanproject TS Evangelist Posts: 715   +1,011

    I think you need to compare the cost of electricity produced by coal or gas versus the electricity produced by let's say your turbine, by the kilowatt.

    'Keep getting cheaper' isn't a very good line of argument. Lamborghini Aventadors keep getting cheaper. That doesn't now make them low cost compared to an old Honda Civic as a method of transport.

    Electricity produced by your chosen example is massively more expensive per kilowatt than shoving a load of gas into an existing power station and burning it. There are a massive variety and number of factors here, it's a complex argument. However it's a given that building huge wind capacity isn't remotely as cheap as continuing to use or modify existing infrastructure. Otherwise governments wouldn't be sitting around still fighting for their coal industries on an economic basis, they would just be buying up wind and nothing else.

    Offshore wind power as you suggested is estimated to cost MORE than coal with expensive carbon sequestration in the USA! Taking your example.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
    Gulesbaron, psycros and MilwaukeeMike like this.
  12. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,416   +2,963

    The northern states are safe from the crazy environmentalists, for now :)
  13. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,308   +3,715

    While it is initially a good idea the state needs to mandate very stringent regulations on checking the quality of the product, it's installation, and insurance that it performs as required. The solar industry is starting to see far too many "fly by night" vendors and contractors where the home owner ultimately gets the shaft.
    Evernessince likes this.
  14. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 378   +405

    Right now I'm connected with a one way flow of power from the grid. There is an extra cost to set up controllers that can reverse the flow and feed the grid without screwing things up. It may be cheaper one day. Currently, the total cost is more than people, that haven't priced it out with contractors, realize. If the cost is built into the cost of a new home, it will become normalized and not seen as an added expense.
  15. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,529   +1,739

    Between high house prices and high taxes, building new homes, nay, buying a home outright in california is already untenable for a large number of california residents.

    Let them tax and mandate additional costs all they want. Everyone knows these homes will merely be vandalized, squatted in, and used as stocks by rich chinese buyers looking to invest their money outside mainland china.
    psycros likes this.
  16. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,945   +1,211

    Cost to replace the cells, average lifespan of what, 20 years? Then the disposal costs of the toxic materials inside the solar cells. What about (not so much in California, but a LOT of the midwest) the damage from wind, hail, tornadoes.
    Take away the offsets that the government gives away, and they aren't as cheap as they are made out to be.
    Gulesbaron, Branoli and psycros like this.
  17. Xclusiveitalian

    Xclusiveitalian TS Evangelist Posts: 784   +170

    Do you know maintenance on those panels? People earn the same they did 10 years ago yet everything cost 20% more. This. Is. Not. Ok. Stop defending the Government making things more expensive.
    Gulesbaron and psycros like this.
  18. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    I will defend any Government that tries pulling back the reins on burning fuel. Even if the expense is a bit more. And in this case the expense is paid by those looking to get new homes. All because they are too proud to live in older housing.

    I don't remember the time period. It was before my time. There was a time housing didn't have running water, heating, air conditioning, or for that matter electricity. And yes they did add to the expense, which we now include as living expenses. Adding solar panels is simply one of the next steps in evolving.
  19. Patriots

    Patriots TS Rookie

  20. Patriots

    Patriots TS Rookie

    First off the whole fossil fuel thing is not accurate .Oil is made by a parasite,and is renewable.
    Secondly ,I don't think the state should be requiring private citizens to have solar on a new home ,we as a people need the freedom to choose these things .Government interference in our day to day lives is already way more than it should be .
    Required solar will just allow solar companies to increase their prices to the point it's unattainable for some .
  21. OneDayBefore

    OneDayBefore TS Rookie

    they are talking about a grid tie inverter capable of 12-90 volts dc input at whatever amp level, to 120V AC for the grid tie. If you are talking 4000-10000 watts/hour. It will not be cheap and need the power company to hook it up.
    seeprime likes this.
  22. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,290   +4,947

    Just like the pricing of Heating and Air Conditioning units. So! Whats your point?

    It is a hypocritical of someone to consume electricity and fight to keep from producing even a portion in return. Especially when production is collecting that which is free to all. It is even a bit selfish when we don't think of the massive demand we all have on the grid. Any relief at all would certainly help.

    We have already gone 40 years with people choosing not to adopt solar and wind. Which is likely due to initial installment cost. It is about time we include them in new housing. Should have done this at least 20 years ago.
    xxLCxx and jonny888 like this.
  23. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,917   +3,371

    A big chunk of the value of housing in California is due to the demand, not the actual costs so clearly people are willing to buy. The only difference with this new solar panel mandate is that if the market cannot bear the additional costs builders will simply have to take a hit in their margins. Given how massively inflated price are right now the market may well be able to bear the additional costs and even if it can't, the building companies have plenty of margin to absorb some of that cost.
    xxLCxx likes this.
  24. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,156   +1,411

    This sounds more like a plan to help companies sell solar panels. Solar panels will make power cost less, and basic economics tells us that people use more of something when it costs less. Increased electricity use may offset the savings from the panels.

    If CA really wanted to get people to use less power, they'd tax power from coal. That'd promote solar panels as well anyway.
  25. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,917   +3,371

    There is only a single coal plant left in California. Taxing it wouldn't do anything but make power in that small area more expensive.

    Using more power isn't per say the issue, it's the carbon footprint of that power use. That's the reason why American's going back to bigger vehicles like SUVs right now that gas prices are low is a very bad thing. Those Vehicles will be on the road for at least 10 years and the trend will most certainly cause a bigger increase in carbon footprint. It's entirely possible that gas prices shoot up again and 5 years down the line those gas guzzlers will be a hard sell to 2nd hand buyers because no one wants to throw away money.

    A better initiative for reducing carbon footprint would be to increase the gas tax when it's cheap. As for the solar panels, I think it's a fine idea given current market conditions although they should make sure these panels are properly recycled when the time comes.
    xxLCxx likes this.

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