In California, there is a solar mandate to help the state move entirely to renewable energy. Solar panels are good for you, your wallet, and nature, but what exactly is the mandate, and how will it affect your home? We’re giving you the full rundown of the California solar mandate.
Bonus: Take our quiz to see if the solar mandate impacts you.
What Is the California Solar Mandate?
In 2018, California mandated that new single-family homes, as well as multi-family dwellings up to three stories high, must include solar panels starting in 2020.
A second mandate was also voted into law, requiring new commercial buildings to have solar panels and battery storage as well. This mandate will be enforced at the beginning of 2023. The California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) still needs to approve the mandate, which is expected to happen by the end of the year. This will give the construction industry a year to prepare for the mandate.
The goal of the mandate is to reduce pollution and help buildings rely less on natural gas. It’s estimated that the solar mandate will “provide $1.5 billion in consumer benefits” over the next 30 years, which includes savings from net metering, and reducing 10 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses. This provides the same impact on the environment as removing nearly 2.2 million cars off the road for an entire year.
How Does the Mandate Affect Homeowners?
California’s residential solar mandate only affects new homes and existing homes that undergo substantial upgrades. If your home was built before the mandate went into effect in 2020, there is no requirement for you to add solar power to your home.
If you are planning to build a new home, the builder should include a solar photovoltaic (PV) system as part of the approved plan, and you shouldn’t have to worry about becoming compliant with the mandate. All building plans must include a PV system as part of the build, or the state will not approve them.
The main way the mandate will affect current homeowners is if you make major renovations to your home. In addition to your planned upgrades, you must add a PV system. Specifically, the mandate instructs homeowners to have a system large enough to meet the annual electricity usage of the building.
Installing solar energy to your home may carry substantial upfront costs, but solar will significantly decrease your annual electric bill, if not eliminate it.
How Can You Prepare for the Mandate?
If you already own a home and have no plans to make substantial upgrades to it, there’s nothing you need to worry about. The mandate will not affect you or your home.
If you are working on building a new home or planning to do so soon, speak to your building contractor about becoming compliant with California’s solar energy mandate. Consider adding a solar battery to supplement your system. The battery can reduce your system’s needs by as much as 40% due to its energy efficiency.
This means you can decrease the number of panels you have to use in your system or choose to retain the larger system and further decrease your grid dependency.
Are There Any Exemptions to California’s Solar Mandate?
Yes, there are situations in which you may be exempt from California’s solar mandate and do not have to include solar power in your new build. Here are three of the most common exemptions.
If your home is destroyed in a natural disaster like a fire or earthquake and you have to rebuild, there is a chance for an exemption to the mandate. This exemption exists to help people get their lives back on track and get back into their homes after a disaster.
If shade that covers your roof causes the potential solar zone to be reduced to 50% or less, you may be able to receive an exemption from the solar mandate.
Seasonal and Temporary Structures
Structures that are not permanently occupied can be exempt from California’s residential solar mandate. Seasonal structures need to lack at least one of the basic amenities or utilities required for year-round occupancy, such as missing a permanent heating system, insulation, and/or usable, year-round plumbing. In California, this mainly applies to cabins or cottages.
Is There a Tax Exemption for Solar Panels?
The state of California does not provide any additional tax credits for installing solar panels. However, federal tax credits cover 26% of the total cost of your solar panels. Even large PV systems can qualify for this credit since there is no size or cost restriction in the tax credit program.
Why Should I Get Solar Panels?
Even if you aren’t required by law to get solar panels for your home, you should still consider them. A PV system will reduce your annual electrical usage, helping your wallet as well as the environment.
With the current market, the cost of electricity is continually going up, which makes solar panels more and more cost-efficient. Solar panels will also help ensure your home always has electricity. Even when the grid is offline due to a flood, fire, or earthquake, your system will still be able to provide your home with the electricity you need, as long as you have a solar battery system.
Current Home Can Help
Current Home is a leading solar power company that has been helping homeowners since 1991. We provide custom energy solutions and make it easy for any homeowner to add a PV system to their home. Whether you’re trying to get off the grid or you’re just looking to meet the minimum of the solar mandate, we can help you pick the best solar strategy for you.
Contact us today to find out more about how Current Home gives you total control over your home’s power.