California continues to prove its leadership in advancing the solar industry by instituting a new HomeBuyer Solar Option and Solar Offset Program to promote distributed solar development. The HomeBuyer Solar Option requires residential real estate developers to offer a solar photovoltaic energy system option to all new home buyers. Developers who do not participate in the HomeBuyer Solar option will be required to set up a solar offset system in which they generate an equivalent amount of solar electricity on another project.
This program is revolutionary because it specifically incentivizes the development of “distributed generation” electricity. Distributed generation, unlike centralized generation from large fossil-fuel power plants and renewable energy farms, reduces the amount of energy lost during electricity transmission and helps Independent System Operators (ISOs) mitigate congestion in the transmission lines.
States such as New Jersey, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and Delaware have set up aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which promote the development of solar energy and create markets for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). However, if these states wish to incentivize the promotion of distributed solar generation, it is important that they follow California’s lead in creating specific incentives for residential solar development.
If the 375,000 new homes sold across the U.S.* were equipped with a 5kW solar photovoltaic system, an additional 2,250 MWh would be generated each year. This would be sufficient to meet their energy demand for approximately six months.
*2009 Census- new home sales in U.S.
**Energy Information Administration- Table 5 Average Monthly Bill by Census Division, and State