California’s housing market is in the news a lot.  Usually, media outlets report on rising home 
prices, increased homelessness, and the mass exodus of Californians to other areas of the country.
Architectural West recently explored the new California legislation regarding increased litigation 
between contractors and subcontractors and its effect on California’s inflated housing market.  We 
noted that time-consuming and costly litigation between contractors not only hurts the industry, 
but also puts affordable housing further out of reach for Californians.
California recently passed historic new legislation that has made it the first state to make renewable energy mandatory.  The state’s Energy Commission approved new energy standards that require solar panels on the roofs of all new homes, condominiums, and apartment buildings that are up to three stories, beginning in 2020.  Stipulations and exemptions apply, of course, including a building’s height and geographical limitations, but the mandate is still far-reaching.
This is good news in many ways.  Buildings should strive for energy efficiency, whether that means installing mandatory solar panels or going even farther by reaching for net-zero status.  Innovative new products, particularly Tesla’s Powerwall, have been allowing homes and buildings to achieve this goal for a while now.  Tesla’s solar shingles have made quite a splash in the roofing industry in the past couple years as well.  These new products have piqued the interest of many homeowners, but now Californians are going to have to look at these solar products with a new lens.  Even though the price of solar panel installation can be a shock, after the initial installation costs, homeowners and building owners can expect significant savings in their energy bills.  
What does this mean for the industry?  For a state that currently has no more than 20% of its new single-family homes utilizing solar power, it means a huge spike in business for both the panel makers and the installation teams in California.  Increased demand for panels could go either way, too.  It could mean that more panel makers and installers pop up, leading to lower prices and increased affordability across the United States.  Or, it could mean high prices of solar equipment and installation due to low availability caused by a sudden influx of customers.  We will have to wait and see.  In 2017, Governor Jerry Brown, perhaps with this new legislation already on his mind, extended a cap on solar permitting fees for the next several years.  That prior legislation will help to make it easier for Californians to access solar power than previous years, particularly now that it’s going to be mandatory very soon for many people.
California may be the first state to put a mandate like this into effect, but I can assure you they’re not going to be the last.  Other states have quietly been pursuing an increased reliance on solar power, and they will be using California as a guide to putting legislation like this into place.  

Marcus Dodson
editor & publisher
Solar Power
California’s Big Step Towards Energy Efficiency