California Becomes First State to Require Solar on New Homes
The California Building Standards Commission unanimously confirmed the standards during a vote on Wednesday, The Mercury News reported.
Commissioner Kent Sasaki described the new policy as "historic" and a model for the rest of the nation to follow.
"These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country," he said, according to The Mercury News. "[It's] the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels."
The mandate—which was originally approved by the state's energy commission in May—applies to all houses, condos and apartment buildings up to three stories tall that obtain building permits after Jan. 1, 2020. An exception will apply for homes that are shaded by trees or buildings that have a roof too small to accommodate solar panels.
The new policy could add an estimated $10,000 to the building a single-family home. However, that cost is expected to be offset through reduced monthly energy costs over a solar system's lifespan, commissioners noted.
Drew Bohan, executive director of the energy commission, said during Wednesday's session that a homeowner will save $19,000 over the course of a 30-year mortgage by having solar panels, NPR reported.
"With extreme weather events becoming more frequent, there is even greater need for homes that are efficient, reliable and resilient," Bohan added.
California has 24.3 gigawatts of solar PV capacity and is the country's undisputed solar champion, with roughly five-times the capacity of second-ranked North Carolina. Approximately 6 million homes in the Golden State are supplied by solar energy.
The world's fifth largest economy has one of toughest clean energy mandates. In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that requires 100 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2045, making it the second state after Hawaii to set such a mandate.
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.
Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.