California’s debate on energy use just got heated.
On May 9th, 2018 the California Energy Commission approved the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards in a 5-0 vote. The standards require that newly constructed buildings, additions and alterations to existing structures be built with solar photovoltaic systems. These standards will go into effect in 2020, placing California as the first state in the U.S. to require the use of solar. While California is not unfamiliar with establishing greener practices in its communities, this new requirement is a huge step towards reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases.
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Prior to the establishment of the mandate, California law had ordered that at least half of the states electricity must come from non-carbon producing sources by the year 2030. Beyond solar systems, the standards encourage residential buildings to have high performance attics, windows, and walls as well as using LED technology for lighting. The standards are expected to have an added construction cost to homes of $9,500, but are projected to save $19,000 in energy costs and maintenance over a 30 year period. With this pathway towards solar, California’s 2030 non-carbon producing energy commitment seems to be even closer in sight. (Source: New York Times)
While many are excited for this movement towards more sustainable energy, opponents fear that the cost of solar systems will hurt the economy. One concern is that this added price to homes will only contribute to the growing shortage of affordable housing, as the California market has the second most expensive homes in the country. Another reason for pushback is that California’s current solar farms are over performing. Recently, California has had to block solar electricity in order to prevent damage to the electrical grid, reaching new records for overproduction in March and April of this year. (Source: Forbes)
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Despite some opponents hesitation, these standards seek to reduce greenhouse gas emission by an amount equivalent to removing 115,000 fossil fuel cars from roads. California is the first to take such a bold measure towards greener energy, but they certainly will not be the last.