More Cities Now Require Solar Power for New Buildings

The adoption of solar power is getting an encouraging boost from cities and counties across the United States.

Transitioning away from the utility grid and relying less on other forms of energy is the goal, and photovoltaic energy is key to making that happen.

San Francisco and Santa Monica are leading the way as the first major U.S. cities to pass laws mandating rooftop solar power installation. Both of these cities recently enacted legislation that requires new buildings to have solar energy capacity included as a part of the construction process.

Solar Power Requirement Adds to Existing State Law

California’s existing Title 24 Energy Standards law requires new small and mid-sized residential and commercial buildings to be solar-ready. Under this state law, buildings with 10 floors or fewer must leave 15 percent of the roof unshaded and free from obstructions so that a photovoltaic system can be installed.

San Francisco’s new law adds to this legislation. Now, instead of just preparing a new roof for a photovoltaic installation, home and business owners must actually install solar energy systems on the rooftops of new buildings.

Santa Monica recently passed a similar law.

Newly constructed, single-family homes in Santa Monica must have a minimum of 1.5 watts of solar power installed per square foot of building space. Multi-family homes, hotels and commercial buildings will need to install at least two watts for every square foot.

Other California Cities that Require Solar Power Installations

San Francisco and Santa Monica are the largest cities in the country to pass laws mandating solar installations, but they aren’t the first. In fact, three other California cities beat them to the punch.

In 2008, Culver City made the record books as the first municipality to require photovoltaic installations on large commercial developments. Lancaster was next, passing legislation in 2013 that mandated solar energy systems on new single-family homes.

Less than two months later, Sebastopol approved a similar ordinance, although theirs mandates photovoltaic installations for both residential and commercial buildings.

Reactions to the Solar Power Requirement

These California cities are committed to sustainability, and many environmentalists applaud aggressive renewable energy policies. However, some people aren’t as positive about the new laws, due to the extra expenses involved in installing a photovoltaic system.

But solar power is cheaper than ever now, and the benefit of long-term electricity savings outweighs the additional costs.

In fact, these laws are expected to bring significant financial gain to residents and business owners. According to one estimate, a photovoltaic installation will add just 2.8 percent to the cost of a new home, but electricity costs will be reduced by an average of 65 percent.

This legislation is not without precedent. In fact, these laws are similar to those that require a minimum level of insulation or that establish maximum water flow for plumbing fixtures. Consequently, energy experts project that more municipalities will adopt these types of solar power installation requirements in the near future.

Required or not, the experts at Intermountain Wind & Solar know the many benefits our customers realize by adopting photovoltaic energy. Contact us today and let us show you how much money you can save by adopting solar power for your home or business.

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