On August 23rd, RCRC urged Governor Newsom to sign Assembly Bill 1078, authored by Assembly Member Jim Patterson (R-Fresno). AB 1078 exempts post-fire residential rebuilding of homes destroyed in 2020’s devastating fires, from the recently-adopted California Energy Commission (CEC) solar energy installation mandates.
The CEC requires all new residential buildings built after January 1, 2020, to be equipped with solar photovoltaic systems. Since post-fire rebuilding is considered “new construction” and must adhere to the current building standards at the time of rebuilding, this new mandate adds significant costs to the price of rebuilding for homeowners who already lack the resources to rebuild their homes.
AB 178 (Dahle of 2019) previously exempted homes damaged or destroyed in the Camp and Tubbs Fires; however, that relief does not apply to any homes damaged or destroyed in fires that occurred after January 1, 2020. AB 1078 provides similar relief to victims of the horrendous wildfires of 2020 that burned four million acres of land and damaged or destroyed thousands of structures.
RCRC supports AB 1078 because many insured homeowners are finding themselves underinsured and rebuilding is even more difficult for uninsured homeowners. AB 1078 simply makes it a little less burdensome for fire victims trying to rebuild their homes and lives.
Unfortunately, AB 1078 was opposed by the California Solar and Storage Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club California. Those groups argued that installation of solar rooftops will make housing more affordable and improve energy resiliency. These claims ignore the fact that the California Public Utilities Commission is poised to significantly increase costs for residents with solar powered homes and that homes will not be any more resilient to the now-frequent power outages unless the homeowner also purchases even more expensive energy storage systems.
RCRC urges member counties to submit letters to the Governor electronically, urging his signature of AB 1078. Letters must be e-mailed to Leg.Unit@gov.ca.gov.
AB 1078 passed the Legislature and awaits the Governor’s signature or veto. RCRC’s Request for Signature Letter is available here. For more information, please contact RCRC Policy Advocate, John Kennedy.