Senator Wiener’s Solar Roofs Bill Passes out of Transportation and Housing Committee

May 9, 2017

Sacramento –  Today the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee approved Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) bill to authorize the implementation of a solar mandate, which would require solar panels to be installed on most new buildings in California.  This would make California the first state in the country to require solar installation on new construction. SB 71 has previously been approved by the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee. 

SB 71 is co-authored by Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) and is supported by environmental, clean energy, and environmental justice groups, including the Sierra Club, Brightline Defense, the Solar Energy Industries Association, California Leage of Conservation Voters, Environment California, 350 Bay Area, and others. 

In Committee, SB 71 passed with Senators Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Tony Mendoza (D- Artesia), Richard Roth (D-Riverside), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) joining Senator Wiener to vote in support.  

Senator Wiener has also authored a bill – SB 700 – that provides rebates to customers for installing energy storage systems, which allow solar power to be used at all hours of the day. By supporting and incentivizing the development of better and more efficient energy storage technologies, SB 700 will reduce the costs for energy storage just as previous rebate programs did for solar power.

“California is continuing to move aggressively to implement smart, long-term polices that will help us to fight against climate change,” said Senator Wiener. “My two solar bills -- SB 71 and SB 700 -- will help bring us into a clean energy future where we rely on the power of the sun to power our cities, not the power of dirty fossil fuels. This is a great step for our environment, and for building a stronger renewable energy sector that creates good-paying jobs.”

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 authorize the California Energy Commission, as part of its update to the building energy efficiency standards, to 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 Appropriations Committee.