â€śThe most efficient time to install solar panels is when the builders are on the roof in the first place,â€ť said Bronte Payne with Environment America.
June 23, 2020
Two hundred thousand new houses each year across ten states would be built with solar panels, if Environment America succeeds with a new campaign.
The ten states are Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The group aims to have legislation introduced by mid-2022 in each state, to require solar on new houses.
Three of those states where new housing construction is expected to be strongâ€”Texas, North Carolina, and Coloradoâ€”could add significant amounts of solar under a new home solar mandate, said Bronte Payne, director of Environment Americaâ€™s Go Solar campaign. Two othersâ€”Nevada and New Mexicoâ€”have set 100% clean electricity goals, and â€śa solar homes requirement can be part of the suite of solutions to help meet those goals,â€ť Payne said.
Californiaâ€™s mandate for solar on all new housing up to three stories tall is projected to achieve more than 1 GW of new solar in the state within five years. California home purchasers would benefit from a reduction in energy bills that would exceed the increase in mortgage payments, by about $35 per month, the California Energy Commission projected.
Under Environment Americaâ€™s campaign, the types of housing covered by any state mandate will vary by state, said Payne.
Environment California, a state organization under Environment America, was opposed to the California Energy Commissionâ€™s decision to approve the Sacramento Municipal Utility Districtâ€™s proposal to allow new homes to bypass the solar requirement, by sharing in a utility-scale solar farm. Â The state group said in a post that the decision â€śundercuts the entire point of the law.â€ť
Across the ten states, about a quarter-million houses are built each year, based on 2019 U.S. housing starts, and the statesâ€™ share of the U.S. population. Of those, 83% would be suitable for solar, says an Environment America report, citing data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Payne said that Environment America and its state organizations â€śplayed a pivotal roleâ€ť in Californiaâ€™s Million Solar Roofs initiative, and were among the groups that successfully advocated for 100% clean electricity standards in Washington, California, New Mexico, and Maine.
â€śWe have the technology to build every new building in our communities with clean, renewable energy,â€ť said Susan Rakov, chair of Environment Americaâ€™s clean energy program. â€śSo letâ€™s do it.â€ť