California Panel Backs Solar Mandate for New Buildings

The state’s Energy Commission voted to require commercial and high-rise multifamily projects to have solar power and battery storage.,


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California regulators approve solar mandates for new buildings.

Workers install solar panels on the roof of the Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles in 2019.Credit…Richard Vogel/Associated Press

Aug. 11, 2021Updated 4:55 p.m. ET

California regulators voted Wednesday to require solar power and battery storage in new commercial buildings and high-rise multifamily dwellings, the latest front in the state’s vigorous efforts to hasten a transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.

The California Energy Commission approved the proposal by a vote of 5 to 0. The proposal will now be taken up by the state’s Building Standards Commission, which is expected to include it in an overall revision of the building code in December.

The energy plan, which would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, also includes incentives to eliminate natural gas from new buildings and to make it easier to add batteries to existing solar systems in single-family homes.

“The future we’re trying to build together is a future beyond fossil fuels,” David Hochschild, the chair of the Energy Commission, said ahead of the agency’s vote. “Big changes require everyone to play a role. We all have a role in building this future.”

The provisions would supplement requirements that took effect last year, which mandate that new single-family homes and multifamily dwellings up to three stories high include solar power.

The latest code provision is widely expected to receive final approval and contribute to California’s aggressive effort to cut carbon emissions.

Lindsay Buckley, a spokeswoman for the Energy Commission, said that “while there is no guarantee” of the plan’s adoption by the Building Standards Commission, no such proposal had ever been rejected after approval by the energy panel.

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