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Solar power is required for all new homes in California but it seems that the state is backtracking when it allowed Sacramento-based developers to build homes without solar panels. The proposal from Sacramento Municipal Utility District allows home builders to take credit for electricity generated by off-site solar farms instead of having solar panels on their roof. The utility plans to have enough off-site solar power to address the demands of new residential constructions.
Supporters of the proposal believe that a community solar program could accomplish California’s goal of clean energy and reduce carbon emissions without increasing the prices of homes. However, critics say that the reason behind the rooftop solar mandate in 2018 is to make clean energy as a standard feature in new homes. The proposal could result in significantly lower energy savings for homeowners. It could also set a precedent for other utilities to create similar workarounds.
Commission officials have acknowledged the fact the homeowners can expect smaller energy bill savings under the SMUD Neighbourhood SolarShares program than if they construct a new home with solar panels. People still prefer solar panels because it is a better deal. Houses with solar panels on their roof sell better because it is what people want.
Installers of home solar panels are worried that the Sacramento-area program could set a precedent that will limit the growth of solar panels in other parts of the state. Critics also said that homes without solar panels on their roofs will be less motivated to install lithium-ion batteries that can generate additional cost savings.
Another growing concern in California is some utilities shut off power to prevent wildfires. With rooftop solar panels, households can keep their lights during blackouts. The more homes with solar power, the less will be the need for fossil fuel on the grid.