In our last blog post, we gave a rundown on the California Solar Mandate, a new code which dictates that new homes in California are to be equipped with solar energy. The mandate went into effect on January 1st, 2020, and it is understandably causing quite a stir. Ever since its announcement in 2018, countless folks have been debating the benefits and the potential consequences of the new code. It understandably is a divisive topic, due to the major ramifications it has on home construction and real estate prices.
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t have some skin in the game — at Energy Service Partners, we are one of California’s leading solar installation companies, so we’re definitely excited at the prospect of many more homeowners being equipped with solar power. It’s not only what we do for a living, but we also genuinely believe that renewable energy is the way of the future. With that being said, it’s important to look at everything through an objective lens. There are definitely pros and cons to the California Solar Mandate — here are some of the most common ones that come up in discussions.
Aside from the cost savings, which we’ve already mentioned above, there are a few definite benefits of the California Solar Mandate:
The Potential for Innovation
One thing that cannot be ignored about the California Solar Mandate is the immense scale that it brings to the solar energy industry. Not only is it unprecedented for a state to require solar installations, California is a massive state with an incredibly dense population. This will make solar energy explode to a heretofore unseen degree.
The great thing about scale? It breeds innovation. When any kind of technology becomes the new standard, you see a lot more effort within the industry to implement new, innovative solutions to existing problems. We’re excited to see the entire world pay more attention to solar.
It’s a Step in the Right Direction for Renewable Energy
We don’t want to get too political in this blog post, but we all know that state-sponsored regulations are very controversial. Both sides of the political spectrum have very different feelings on the matter, and there are definite pros and cons to every new code such as this one.
One thing we will say, however, is that it’s good that California is doing something to bring us closer to the future of renewable energy. The California Solar Mandate will make solar more ubiquitous, more well-known, and more contagious (for lack of a better word). Time will tell whether or not it was a wise choice to make on the state-level. If it all works out, it’s a win-win. If there are severe repercussions, other states and the country as a whole can learn from its failures and create better building codes in the future. But no matter what happens, it gets us talking a lot more about renewable energy — that is, if nothing else, a sign of progress.
It Will Make Solar Cheaper
In a world where every single house is being installed with solar, the ubiquity of the technology, and the cost reductions in the market will extend beyond the homes that fall under the mandate. Overall, it’s expected that the California Solar Mandate will make solar energy more attractive and affordable on a much larger scale. It’s likely that solar systems will become cheaper in the long run in areas where it’s not required.
As a solar installation company who has skin in the game, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we advocate solar energy for as many people as possible. But nothing is perfect, and there are some arguments against the California Solar Mandate.
Rooftop Solar Is a Highly Costly Way to Reduce Carbon Emissions
While we firmly believe that every home benefits from a solar system, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Solar energy largely exists to help us move towards renewable energy and embrace power systems that reduce carbon emissions. Nobody is arguing that solar energy isn’t a good energy source, but some would disagree about how it’s implemented.
Large solar installations act as renewable energy farms that can power entire communities with their power. On paper, this is much more efficient and affordable than putting rooftop solar on every home. Critics of the mandate argue that it’d be a better goal to create more of these solar installations.
California Already Has Too Much Solar Energy
California, by and large, is one of the best states for solar energy. We’re blessed with sunlight virtually every day of the year, and our weather hardly fluctuates, save for being a little more hot and cool in summer and winter respectively. Between the large amount of homes that already have solar equipped, and various solar installation facilities, California produces a whole lot of solar energy — in fact, it’s often more than we know what to do with.
Solar power is often created in such excess amounts that it has nowhere to go; due to our unconnected grid system, a whole lot of zero-carbon energy goes to waste. Some critics of the California Solar Mandate argue that we should focus on expanding our infrastructure so that excess solar energy can be redistributed more efficiently. Naturally, this is easier said than done.
The excess solar energy problem evokes the “starving kids in China” scenario. Yes, it is true that first world countries have an abundance in food that could easily satisfy the needs of impoverished countries, but on the other hand, there’s no practical way to redistribute that food to them. The situation is somewhat similar with solar — there are ways to export this energy, but when it comes down to it, it cannot be denied that a lot of power is going to waste.
Increased Home Prices
While the marginal increase of around $8,000 isn’t a whole lot compared to the overall price of a home, typically venturing into hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s still an increase, and it makes home ownership ever so slightly more difficult for many folks in California.
Ever heard of the “Boots Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness?” The idea originated in a Terry Pratchett novel, in which he posited that it was cheaper to be rich than poor. Boots were used as an example — a rich person could afford the upfront cost of an expensive pair of boots, which would last them for years to come. A poor person could only afford cheap boots, which would quickly degrade, necessitating repeat purchases, ultimately costing more in the long-run than what the rich person paid.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s relevant enough — solar energy yields more savings in the long run, but its additional upfront cost could be a breaking point for potential homeowners who have tight finances. Given that California has recently been going through its own housing crisis, many critics argue that it’s not prudent to force a mandatory increase on the price of new homes during these turbulent times.
Energy Service Partners – The Future of Solar Installation in California
There is a lot more to say about the California Solar Mandate, but if you’re here on our blog reading this, it’s very likely that you’re in the solar industry yourself. We’re always looking for solar sales companies to combine our industry-leading installation services with, so if you found our site for that reason, you probably already have your own strong opinions about the California Solar Mandate.
You don’t need us to tell you the pros and cons in more detail, but you might need an excellent installation company to implement the quality solar systems you sell to California homeowners. At Energy Service Partners, we’ve distinguished ourselves with 25 years of experience, record-breaking cycle times, innovative technology, and incredible customer service. If you’re looking for a solar installation company that’s worth your time, you’ve come to the right place. Getting started is easy — just give us a call today.