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California To Require Solar Panels On All New Homes

(KPIX 5) -- California's push toward more renewable energy has reached a major milestone with a new mandate beginning in 2020 that requires all new homes built to include solar rooftop panels.

The new solar panel rule was first introduced in May by the state energy commission. It was approved with a unanimous vote Wednesday, making California the first state in the nation to require all new homes have solar panels.

But the historic decision is also prompting some concern. Tom Wilson with Urban Pacific Homes says the move is not without consequences as it will increase the cost for the buyer. "One hundred percent it's going to increase it," said Wilson. "The average solar package that we're putting on our homes is about $25,000."

That's on the high end of the scale, according to the state, which estimates the new rules will add nearly $10,000 to the up-front cost of the home.

But it's believed homeowners could save $19,000 on energy costs over the course of a 30-year mortgage. The solar industry claims many could save as much as 500 dollars a month.

Still, the state received hundreds of letters from critics, many noting the new rules will increase already sky-high California real estate prices.

South Bay realtor Ed Graziani with Soreno Real Estate Group noted even with increase costs, homebuyers don't always get what they pay for.

Graziani says many his clients who buy homes with solar installed find it's not the right kind of system for their specific needs.

"What we found is that people are pulling out the solar," said Graziani.

Graziani noted just because the builders install it, it doesn't mean homebuyers will benefit. "It might not be the most efficient solar panel that is available or the amount of solar that's available for that home," he said.

Both Graziani and Wilson said most new homes come wired for solar, but many builders stopped installing panels because the technology changes so quickly they quickly become obsolete.



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