The Heat Is On in Builders' Race to Meet California's Solar Codes

December 17, 2019
Solar Power
By Panumas - Adobe Stock

The new year is a big one for California: Starting in January, 100 percent of new homes are mandated to include solar power in the form of rooftop installations or community sources. These additions are a huge win for the state’s environmental goals. But the pressure then falls on builders, who must now somehow find a way to turn the current 20 percent of homes with solar into 100 percent. Time is running out, and with an unclear path forward and hazy community solar plans, builders are rushing to get permits in before the deadline so they can have more time to strategize ways to get their homes up to code. Change is hardly ever easy, and the switch to solar is definitely suffering some growing pains. 

One in five newly constructed California homes now comes topped with a solar installation. Starting in January, that needs to jump to five out of five.

A year ago, California gave final approval to updated building codes that require all new homes to come with solar attached. Multifamily units below three stories must also adhere to the mandate.

Since then, residential installers have worked to cement partnerships with homebuilders. Builders have practiced their solar pitches. And one local utility, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), offered up a program designed to meet the mandate through community solar — sparking significant controversy in the process. 

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