Fremont, a suburb of San Francisco, has mandated that all new homes and business developments must have solar panels. It is part of the community’s goal to be a net-zero-energy city by 2020.
Existing homes will be exempt, but new developments will have to take the costs of installing solar panels – the number of which will be determined by square footage – into account.
The size of the solar panel system mandated for both single-family and multifamily housing built in the city will be determined by the size of the homes on a sliding scale, up to 4,499 square feet. Homes 4,500 square feet or larger will be measured differently, though still subject to the requirements.
Fremont already has built a solid reputation in renewable energy. Home energy consumption in Fremont has decreased nearly 15 percent over the past four years. The energy reductions are attributed to significant improvements in energy efficiency as well as the installation of over 2,800 rooftop solar electric systems to date.
For now, the impact on housing prices should be minimal. In the short term, developers will be able to take advantage of the Congressional decision to extend the renewable investment tax credit.
Cities across the country will be watching Fremont closely. If it is able to bring on new developments without raising costs, and increase solar adoption, expect other cities to follow its example.
The state buildings standards and energy commissions both need to sign off on solar panel rules before they can be implemented in the city.
Fremont is the home of a large Tesla factory for electric vehicles. Many Tesla workers live in Fremont, one of the reasons that the city already has a high electric vehicle (EV) ownership rate with the city estimated 5,000 drivers to date.
Last year, the city approved a code change that will require new residential and commercial developments with parking spaces to be “EV ready.” That means they must be equipped with conduit, wiring and any special circuitry needed for installation of electric vehicle charging stations.
Fremont also wants to expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the city. Each new single family home will have to one EV-ready parking spot, and multifamily and non-residential projects will need to include at least 10 percent of parking lots EV-ready.