In coming years, Montgomery Co. may require solar panels on homes

In the coming years, homes that are built in Montgomery County, Maryland, may need to have solar panels installed on their rooftops.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said he is prioritizing “actions and strategies” to meet a greenhouse gas emission reduction goal of 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035.

According to The Washington Post, one of those actions will be introducing a bill next year requiring all new single-family houses to have solar panels installed on them starting in 2022.

“We would prefer to see incentives rather than a mandate,” said Lori Graf, CEO of the Maryland Building Industry Association.

Graf’s organization expressed concerns that the cost of such a requirement would outweigh the ultimate benefits for county residents.

“With new construction, we are following pretty advanced building codes as it is,” said Graf. “New construction is efficient to being with and the return on investment with solar panels is minimal.”

Graf also claimed the idea is generally unpopular.

“Consumers don’t really want it,” she said. “In some of the newer communities that have offered the option or have put solar-ready roofs in, people are just not electing to do it.”

In California, a similar mandate is set to take effect in 2020.

According to the California Energy Commission, requiring solar panels will “reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 700,000 metric tons over three years, equivalent to taking 115,000 fossil fuel cars off the road.”

The commission said the mandate will “increase the cost of constructing a new home by about $9,500” but save homeowners “$80 per month on heating, cooling and lighting bills.”

Graf said a solar panel mandate in Montgomery County would add between $12,000 and $16,000 to the cost of home construction.

“One of our top priorities is trying to figure out the best way to move forward and make things more affordable especially for middle-income and lower-income individuals,” said Graf.

This week, Elrich led a Montgomery County delegation to New York for Climate Week NYC, an international summit featuring government and business leaders.

“Montgomery County is committed to being a climate leader,” Elrich said in a statement Wednesday. “We know we need to move aggressively to cut carbon emissions since we only have about a decade to avoid the most disastrous impacts from a warming planet.”

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