State bill may exempt low-income residents from solar mandate to aid post-fire rebuild – KRCR

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A potential financial break for people looking to rebuild following fire is underway in Sacramento.

State lawmakers are introducing a bill that would exempt low- and middle-income Californians from the state’s solar panel building mandate which requires solar on new homes. Although it can result in energy savings, some lawmakers say it only acts as a barrier for people just looking to build back what they lost.

“Trust me when I say this: $25,000 to build solar onto a house where people do not have solar is 100% an impediment to rebuilding,” said the bill’s author Joe Patterson in an Assembly committee.

According to Jen Goodlin, the executive director of the Rebuild Paradise Foundation, over 85 percent of their grant recipients are low-income.

“I like the idea of saving energy but it’s just all these little things that are tacking on,” Goodlin said, noting that the solar mandate can cost upwards of $15,000. “It’s tricky because on one hand it is helping to reduce the cost of utility bills however if a builder is only doing the minimum requirement it actually usually only isn’t enough to maintain the power of the home. So if you’re wanting … the utility benefit you should actually be doing the solar that can power the size and needs of the home.”

The measure passed the Assembly Natural Resources committee, earlier this month. It now moves onto a vote in Appropriations. However, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a similar measure two years ago, highlighting the need to cut down on greenhouse gasses.

“There’s been some help for the low-income bracket, but you want the help to be sustainable. You don’t want to give someone a home and they can’t keep affording the payments,” Goodlin said.

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