New Solar Homes Partnership

March 20, 2007
Solar & Efficiency Special
A version of this article appears in the Solar & Efficiency Special issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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A unique blend of energy-efficient solar homes will emerge in California’s new-home marketplace in 2007, under the California Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership. “Our program is intended to transform the new-home industry and have consumers ask for solar in their new home to lower their energy bills,” says Energy Commission Chairman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel.

The New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) is a component of the California Solar Initiative (CSI), which was signed into law in 2006. The CSI has three main goals: to create 3,000 megawatts of new solar-produced electricity by 2017; to establish a self-sufficient solar industry in which solar-energy systems are a viable mainstream option in 10 years; and to place solar-energy systems on 50% of new homes in 13 years. The California Energy Commission is administering the NSHP, while the California Public Utilities Commission will administer separate, but coordinated, elements of the CSI.
A new home that qualifies for the NSHP will be at least 15% more efficient than the current energy efficiency standards, and will feature a rooftop solar-energy system with a ten-year warranty to protect against defective workmanship or system and component breakdown.

Today, the NSHP encourages builders to install solar-energy systems on new homes as a standard feature for the homebuyer, just like granite countertops. However, beginning in 2011, builders will be required to offer solar as a standard feature in new-home developments of 50 houses or more. Currently, California has more than 23,000 PV system installations, of which 1,500 are installed on new homes.

Each year 200,000 new homes are built in California, and most include central air conditioning.  “Central air conditioning is a driving factor for California’s energy supply.  The NSHP is an essential element to reduce the need for California to build new power plants,” adds Pfannenstiel.

—Claudia Chandler

Claudia Chandler is the assistant executive director for the California Energy Commission.

For more information:
For more information about the California Solar Initiative, the New Solar Homes Partnership, and a guidebook on how to participate in the program, visit the Go Solar California Web site at www.GoSolarCalifornia.ca.gov.

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