The Scoop on the 2020 California Solar Power Mandate

The Scoop on the 2020 California Solar Power Mandate

It is 2020 here in California, and that means that the 2020 California Solar Mandate is now in effect. So what is this new law, and what does it cover? Here are a few critical facts:

  • New homes built in California after Jan 1, 2020, must be equipped with a solar electric system
  • Solar systems must be sized to offset 100% of the home's electricity usage; however, homes can still use energy from other sources, such as gas
  • The size of the solar array can be reduced if other energy efficiency improvements are made elsewhere, such as the inclusion of energy storage or green building materials
  • The CEC expects the mandate to add roughly $9,500 to up-front development costs, but save the homeowner $19,500 over the life of the system
  • Housing developers can save money on solar installation by wholesale sourcing materials and employing their contractors to build the systems

This new law applies only to new buildings under three stories tall. Larger development projects, such as high-rise apartment buildings, are exempt under this new law.

So do you need to offset 100% of the building's energy usage? This short answer is no. New construction does not need to be "zero net energy," but instead "zero net electricity," with 100% off the unit's electricity production offset by solar.

The home's total energy budget accounts for mixed-fuel energy usage, which means it's still ok to rely on other energy sources (typically gas) to power a specific portion of your home. You can still use a gas stove or central heat, for example, and that usage does not need to be offset by solar.

Under the mandate, each property is assigned an “energy budget” based on its square footage. The budget varies based on climate zone and other factors.

There’s also a compliance credit for adding energy storage to your system. Storing energy in a battery bank reduces the burden on the utility grid. Homeowners who opt into energy storage are allowed to reduce the size of their PV array by 25%. So if you’re on the hook for 4 kW of solar, you could build a 3 kW system with energy storage to satisfy the requirements.

So does adding solar to my home increase the home value? Yes, it does! The upfront costs associated with a solar PV system can add roughly $9,500 to the price of a new home; however, the resident of the home is expected to save close to $19,000 on energy costs over the life of the system ownership. On top of that, a solar system can improve your property values and do so at an average of close to 3.75%, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Library.

Contact Got Watts Electric & Solar for a complete home solar system evaluation and start saving money and living cleaner and greener today!

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