On September 22nd, Governor Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 1078 (Patterson, R-Fresno), which sought to exempt 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.
RCRC strongly supported AB 1078 as a way to reduce the burden for fire victims trying to rebuild their homes and lives. RCRC’s letter requesting signature can be found here.
RCRC was very disappointed with Governor Newsom’s veto and strongly disagrees with his rationale. Governor Newsom argued that the solar mandate will reduce homeowner costs; however, this ignores the fact that the California Public Utilities Commission is considering consequential changes to the state’s net energy metering program that could see the imposition of new fees between $40-$80/month for solar customers.
RCRC also strongly disputes the Governor’s assertion that the CEC mandate will undermine the energy resiliency of homes. Our communities have been hit hard by years of Public Safety Power Shutoff and fast trip outages. Many homeowners were rudely awakened to learn they would lose power even though they had solar panels on their home, and had to turn to generators to keep their lights and refrigerators running. Installation of solar panels on homes does nothing to provide resiliency without pairing it with very expensive energy storage systems.
Unfortunately, Governor Newsom’s veto means that hundreds to thousands of wildfire victims will now have to pay tens of thousands of dollars more to install solar panels on their rebuilds.
For more information, contact RCRC Policy Advocate John Kennedy.