Senator Wiener to Introduce Bill Requiring Solar Power on New Buildings to Advance California’s Leadership on Climate Change

January 9, 2017

Today Senator Scott Wiener will introduce legislation to require the installation of solar power on new residential and commercial buildings constructed in California. This legislation would make California the first state in the country to require solar to be installed on new construction, and will keep California at the forefront of the fight against climate change as the incoming Trump Administration signals a hostile relationship to environmental protections and policies. Senator Wiener previously authored legislation as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that made San Francisco the first major city in the country to mandate solar installations on the roofs of new construction. 

“Fighting climate change and building a sustainable future require us to take immediate action to put in place real clean energy solutions,” said Senator Wiener. “Our environment and our future generations need us to act now, especially as a wave of climate change deniers invade Washington as part of the new presidential administration. Climate change is real, and we must reverse course from the polluting energy practices that got us here, not double down on dirty power. California can – and will – remain the national leader in building a clean energy future, and solar power is critical in moving us down that path.”

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 new residential and commercial buildings of 10 floors or less. Previously, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Senator Wiener authored and passed legislation requiring solar to be installed on new construction in San Francisco that fell under the requirements of California Title 24 Energy Standards. 

“President-elect Trump has made it clear he will work to roll back the national progress we’ve made on clean power. Now is the time for California to lead on expanding usage of solar power,” said Sarah Rose, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters. “What’s more, legislation like this has the potential to help California honor our commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement and to the goals of SB 32.”

Senator Wiener’s new legislation at the state level will build on what San Francisco requires, with the intent to activate these unused “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.

“Solar is now a major part of the California economy and California construction,” said Sean Gallagher, Vice President of State Affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “California is the largest solar market in the United States and that leadership shows: the industry employs more than 75,000 Californians and contributed more $7 billion in project investment in 2015 alone. Solar is increasingly a standard feature of new construction with nearly 10 percent of new homes in the state’s most populous areas now being equipped with solar. We can and should build on that success.”

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.