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California's solar energy mandate is beneficial



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This rooftop is filled with its limit of photovoltaic solar panels. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

California recently became the first state to require solar panels on new homes. This means every new home built starting in 2020 will be required to be powered by solar energy. 

This move from the California Energy Commission has the goal of reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the commission, this will roughly be equivalent to removing 115,000 fossil fuel cars off the road. 

Other states should use California as a model and adopt similar mandates in order to push for a more effective and environmentally friendly future. 

A concern from skeptics and prospective buyers will be of the cost of homes after these new additions, this will add an average of roughly $10,000 to each home’s construction, according to the commission. 

Although this may be true, in the long run these additions will play out in favor of home buyers. Sure, it will increase each buyer’s 30-year mortgage by an estimated $40 per month, but the commission estimates it will save consumers roughly $80 per month on heating, cooling and lighting bills. 

So, not only would this be economically protective and beneficial, but it may lighten financial burdens for all new home buyers in the state.

The White House has its own concerns. Earlier this year, President Trump announced a whopping 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels, a move that will affect the bottom line of solar companies in the country. This may make the future of using solar energy in homes more expensive.

This was largely in part due to the president’s coal initiative. Trump has promised to rebuild the coal industry by rolling back government regulations on the industry and leaving the Paris Climate Agreement. Likewise, the Department of Energy has joined him in searching for coal “power plants of the future.”

Mandates like California’s might lower the demand for jobs in the coal industry, but they will drive forward the demand for work in the solar industry.

We must not only look at the consumer benefits from this change, but also the benefits to the solar industry.

According to the Department of Energy, California already has the highest rate of solar power jobs per capita in the country and one of the lowest rates of coal power jobs, so the likelihood that there will be a noticeable increase in unemployment is relatively low. 

However, other states will need to take employment opportunities into consideration when deciding whether to implement similar mandates.

In a state like Wyoming, where three percent of workers work in the coal industry, energy commissioners and lawmakers must consider the possibility of job loss.  

There are easy solutions to these issues. Naturally, there will be a rise in demand for work in the solar industry once the demand for coal lowers, but providing transition training from coal-related jobs to solar jobs could prove to beneficial in all respects. 

Overall, the initiatives California has taken are not only environmentally beneficial, but are also conscientious of the needs of consumers and producers. 

This is why other states should look closely at the effects of California’s policy when deciding whether to implement similar mandates. 

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