Rooftop Solar Will Make California Homes More Affordable

West Coast Surfer/DPA via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

As you may know, California has decided to make rooftop solar mandatory in all new houses starting in 2020. But you might not know this:

In addition to the solar mandate, the commission approved new insulation and air filter requirements for newly built homes. In all, the new residential requirements are expected to make a single-family house $9,500 more expensive to build on average, but save $19,000 in reduced utility bills over a 30-year period, according to the Energy Commission. Monthly mortgage payments should rise by an average of $40, but utility bills should fall by $80, a commission analysis says.

The $9,500 estimate you keep hearing about includes not just the solar panels, but also the new insulation and air filter stuff. And it’s all likely to make homes in California less expensive by the only metric that matters: monthly payments.

I don’t have a strong opinion about this mandate because I haven’t spent any time digging into it. Tentatively, I’d say that it sounds like a good idea even if it’s not the best idea ever. There’s no law that says we can’t have both rooftop solar and utility-scale solar, after all. We have lots of sunshine in California, so why not make use of it as broadly as we can?

Rooftop solar does present genuine issues for utilities, especially if it includes net metering (the ability to sell excess power back to the grid). Still, these issues aren’t insurmountable, and utilities generally protest too much. Solar and wind are the future until something better comes along, and I’m perfectly happy to live in a state that not only cares about climate change, but also has a powerful hedge against future increases in the price of gas and oil.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate