Solar Mandate Pros and Cons
Is your jurisdiction considering mandating the use of solar for residential construction? The below graphic includes a few examples of pros and cons for mandating solar. Or view a full list of considerations.
If your municipality or state is considering a solar photovoltaic (PV) mandate for new residential construction, they likely have a public process for collecting stakeholder input. Below are some things you might want to ask, sorted by topic area.
For additional assistance, please contact NAHB Staff.
- What exceptions to the mandate have been considered to allow for flexibility?
- Cost effectiveness and system efficiency decrease when there is significant shading on the property – will there be exceptions for sites that don’t have enough solar access throughout the day?
- If exceptions are not made for sites with poor solar access, clear-cutting trees to gain solar access could defeat the environmental benefits.
- Will there be guidance within the mandate if the roof space is not large enough to significantly offset the expected energy demand of the home?
- Is community solar (off-site solar) an option within the mandate?
- Is there flexibility within the mandate to give builders options to fulfill requirements?
- Has the jurisdiction considered solar-ready provisions as an alternative to a complete solar mandate, such as plans for future panels, pathways for routing conduit to the building’s electrical service panel, and reserved space on the electric panel for a dual pole circuit breaker?
- What stakeholder work has been done surrounding the mandate to engage affected sectors in order to prepare the market for the changes?
- Solar installers
- Efficiency experts
- Energy raters
- Administrators of local rebate programs
- Equipment manufacturers for all system components
- Real-estate professionals
- Online monitoring companies
- Related state agencies
- Inspectors/other code officials
- Local solar and home builders’ associations
- What efforts have been made to educate consumers on solar, proper maintenance, tax credits, and other topics related to solar deployment?
- Is there a workforce development plan to prepare the market?
- If there are not enough high-quality solar installation companies, shortcuts could be taken and bad actors could be more prevalent, increasing fire risk and safety.
- What is the quality assurance approach for the drastic increase of installations?
- Have electrical and building inspectors and firefighters been trained on what to look for during inspections and solar-related requirements in the National Electric Code?
- Do local fire codes impact the solar installation and approval process?
- What is the availability of financing mechanisms in the market? Will consumers have options for leasing, Power Purchase Agreements, and/or purchasing solar through loans or rolling additional costs into their mortgage?
- Does the local utility allow your house to connect to the grid?
- Is the local utility equipped to handle increasing numbers of interconnection applications, administration of net metering, and more?
- Does the local utility pay for the excess solar power generated? If so, at what rate?
- Will there be specific language about limiting the number of trees (or area) cut down?
- How will future energy use be predicted, and how will that relate to solar PV size requirements?
- If the mandate is statewide, what are the cost implications if jurisdictions decide to make solar requirements more stringent?
- What assumptions were made in the benefit-cost analysis, such as the price of electricity, time-of-use rates, and net metering compensation from the utility?