Lots of politicians and state leaders talk about renewable energy sources, but California is doing something about it.

In early May, California became the first American state to require all new homes to feature solar panels.

California’s Energy Commission (CEC) voted to pass this mandate on May 9th. The mandate still needs the approval of the California Building Standards Commission, but this is expected to happen.

Although California’s Energy Commission strongly supported the mandate, that doesn’t mean everybody agrees that it’s a good idea.

Critics of the mandate say that this measure will raise California’s home prices, which are already very high compared to other states. Several advocacy groups claim that this solar panel mandate will be the end of affordable housing in California.

The Energy Commission points out that this law will not go into effect until the year 2020; also, they say, the homeowners’ energy savings will level out the extra costs over time.

The cost is expected to be about $40 extra per month (for the average 30-year mortgage), but the CEC expects savings to be upwards of $80, reducing the cost of lighting, cooling, and heating in California homes.

Supporters of the mandate also point out that the mandate includes an exception for special cases, in which solar panels are simply not affordable, or is not cost-effective (cities and areas that don’t get much sunlight, etc.).

June’s mandate is being celebrated as another huge win for America’s solar industry–but California is no stranger to alternative energy: they already require that half of the electricity in the state comes from non-carbon sources, like wind, solar, and others.

Many solar panel companies have been struggling and even going out of business. For them, this mandate makes them very hopeful for the future.

No matter how you feel about this new mandate, one thing is clear: it’s an important decision that will change how California homes are powered, and it’s an idea that might easily spread to other American states.


“Renewable Energy” = Energy from a source that doesn’t run out, like sun and wind

“mandate” = an official order, like from the government

“affordable” = low cost, cheap

“struggling” = having difficulty with; having a hard time with something

Source: Wall Street Journal