Solar Mandate Pros and Cons

Sustainability and Green Building
Contact: Sustainability and Green Building

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.

Solar Pros and Cons Highlights

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.

Mandate Flexibility

  • 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?

Stakeholder Engagement

  • What stakeholder work has been done surrounding the mandate to engage affected sectors in order to prepare the market for the changes?
    • Builders
    • Designers
    • Solar installers
    • Efficiency experts
    • Energy raters
    • Utilities
    • Administrators of local rebate programs
    • Equipment manufacturers for all system components
    • Appraisers
    • Real-estate professionals
    • Online monitoring companies
    • Related state agencies
    • Inspectors/other code officials
    • Firefighters
    • 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?

Industry Preparedness

  • 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?

Utility Related

  • 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?

Mandate Specific

  • 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?
Solar Mandate Considerations Download a printer-friendly version of the pro/con list.