Senator Wiener’s Solar Roofs Bill Passes out of Senate Committee

SB 71 requires solar panels to be installed on new residential and commercial construction, which will position California to continue its national leadership fighting climate change
April 4, 2017

Sacramento –  Today the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee approved a bill authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to require solar panels to be installed on most new buildings in California.  SB 71 would make California the first state in the country to require solar installation on new construction. SB 71 is supported by environmental, clean energy, and environmental justice groups, including the Sierra Club, Brightline Defense, the Solar Energy Industries Association, 350 Bay Area, and Environment California.

In Committee, SB 71 passed by a vote of 8-3 with Senators Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), and Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) joining Senator Wiener in support.

“Today we took a great step to expand the use of solar power in California, which is critical for our clean energy future,” said Senator Wiener. “California needs to continue to lead the fight against climate change, not pretend it doesn’t exist like those in the Trump administration would like to do. Reducing and eliminating our reliance on dirty power is better for our climate and for our communities, particularly low-income communities who often bear the brunt of fossil fuel pollution.”    

Existing state law requires that 15% of roof area on all new small and mid-sized buildings be “solar ready”. This means this area of the roof is unshaded by the proposed building itself, and free of obtrusions. This state law – part of California’s Title 24 Energy Standards -- applies to most new residential and commercial buildings of 10 floors or less.

SB 71 will require that solar panels be installed on these “solar ready” roofs for new construction. This can take the form of either solar photovoltaic or solar water panels, both of which supply 100% renewable energy.

California is the leading producer of solar energy in the country, with over 15,000 megawatts of solar energy installed, which is enough solar energy to power over 3.7 million homes. In addition to the significant environmental benefits provided by solar, the solar industry also employs over 75,000 people throughout California, which includes manufacturers, distributors, and installers. 

SB 71 now moves to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.