New Solar Homes Partnership Program Spurs Dramatic Increase in Solar System Installs in New Homes

The number of solar systems installed in new homes has increased dramatically as a result of the California Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership program (NSHP), with that growth poised to continue as a result of today’s California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) decision to provide $111.78 million in continuation funding for the program.

Participation in the NSHP program has increased 321 percent between 2009 and 2016, according to an Energy Commission report.

“We welcome the CPUC’s decision to support the New Solar Homes Partnership program which helps homebuilders build greener homes in California that use less energy, save money, and reduce pollution,” said Energy Commissioner David Hochschild.

The program, an integral part of California’s effort to provide clean, renewable electricity as part of the state’s six-year-old Solar Initiative, provides financial incentives and other support to homeowners, builders, and developers to encourage the construction of new, energy-efficient solar homes.

Statewide, the program accounts for 169 megawatts (MW) of solar generating activity and $242 million in incentives, according to the Energy Commission report.

The CPUC’s decision will help California reach its goal of achieving 360 MW of installed solar electric capacity on new homes by the end of the year. The $400 million program is available to customers of four investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in California that include Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Bear Valley Electric Service.

The funds will help meet the goal of installing solar electric systems on 50 percent of all new homes built by the end of the year. Participation in the program has increased steadily since the low point of new home construction in 2009. Home builders like Lennar and KB Homes now include solar as a standard feature in their recent developments.

Southern California leads the state in NSHP participation with 6,422,500 accounts. There were 5,400,000 in Northern California, according to data from the five IOUs.

A focus of the program is encouraging participation in affordable housing communities. As of 2014, nearly a quarter of solar systems were installed in communities with average household incomes below $50,000.

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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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