Lawmakers in several states have approved or proposed bills requiring builders to offer solar power among their upgrade options
If certain state lawmakers have their way, it might not be long before “solar power system” is just another, routinely listed item on homebuilders’ menus of upgrade options, right along with high-end finishes, expanded garages, and premium fixtures.
A USA Today story mentioned four states where lawmakers are considering or have approved bills that would require home builders to offer options such as pre-wiring for solar and/or full solar installations. One state, Hawaii, has already passed a law requiring installation of solar hot-water heaters in all new single-family homes built after December 31.
Jeff Lyng, the renewable-energy program manager for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter’s Energy Office, told the paper that a principal aim of a solar-option bill now being considered by the state legislature is to “standardize things – we’re trying to build Colorado’s infrastructure to be ready for solar.”
The Colorado bill would require builders to offer a range of options, from pre-wiring to full installation, and inform customers that they can roll some of the cost of their solar energy systems into their mortgages, the story notes.
California has already passed a law, due to take effect beginning in 2010, that requires builders to offer solar installations on homes in developments of more than 50 houses. A similar measure, applying to developments of 25 or more homes, was approved in March by New Jersey lawmakers. And, beginning last year, builders in New Mexico have been required to offer pre-wiring for solar.
“We’re all in favor offering more options to homebuyers,” says Calli Barker Schmidt, director of environmental communications at the National Association of Home Builders. Schmidt points out, however, that it is in the interests of both builders and buyers to explain which power sources would be most cost-effective in a given area, since roof-mounted solar is more appropriate for some settings than others.
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