A year after California became the first state to mandate rooftop solar on all new homes, a nationally representative survey by CITE Research has found that 70% of Americans would like to see the same policy in place across the country.
Scheduled to go into effect next year, California’s rooftop solar mandate, “also comes with a whole suite of building efficiency mandates, like thicker insulation and better sealing around windows and doors,” Fast Company reports. It has, however, taken some criticism from experts who argue that “focusing on larger solar and wind installations is a more cost-effective approach to increasing the supply of renewable energy.” Not so, say proponents, who contend that mandating rooftop solar will in fact make small installations more affordable, while at the same time forcing power utilities to innovate in anticipation of an influx of solar from private homes.
Harder to quantify, but rich in policy potential, is the influence the rooftop solar mandate is having on public opinion. Explaining that “requiring rooftop solar on new homes normalizes it,” Fast Company notes that “if homeowners in older buildings see solar installations go up on new homes, they might be more persuaded to switch their own energy systems to renewable. And it’s likely that the increased visibility of home solar installations might make people more amenable to supporting larger-scale policy shifts in favor of renewable energy.”
That kind of “public opinion ripple effect” appears to be happening nation-wide in the wake of the California mandate, said David Bywater, CEO of Vivint Solar, the residential solar installation company that commissioned the CITE survey.
“Even in the south, where there are few incentives for homeowners to install rooftop solar but many hurdles for them to cross, 68% of respondents said they’d like to see a mandate in place,” Fast Company notes.
While some skeptics “might say that California’s policy is the big hand of government overreaching,” Bywater added, “it’s actually what the people want.”