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Council passes rules requiring solar panels on new homes

By From page A4 | August 29, 2014

Let the sunshine in.

The Davis City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday requiring new residential construction to come with solar panels, the amount and size based on the square footage of the residence.

It’s one more move toward a smaller carbon footprint for the city. The Cannery is not included under this ordinance, because it already has its entitlements. However, The New Home Company, which is building homes at the new development at Covell Boulevard and J Street, already is planning to install solar panels on all single-family attached and detached housing.

Exempted, too, are apartment buildings and other so-called multi-family units, live-work buildings and accessory dwelling units.

As Davis grows slowly, and everyone living in town is grandfathered in, the new ordinance will affect only future residents. However, the city’s calculations of solar panel benefits based on square footage are instructive to anyone who wants to install or lease photovoltaic panels to save money on electricity as costs for other utilities, like water, go up.

The city calculates that, conservatively, 48 percent to 52 percent of residents’ electricity bills would be reduced to zero if they voluntarily follow the new rule for new construction.

The City Council added a new 1,000-square-foot-and-less category, but other than that, kept the recommendation vetted by city staff and the Natural Resources Commission.

Here’s how it will work:

* For a home of 1,000 square feet or less, the minimum system size is 1.6 kilowatts;

* For 1,001 to 1,500 square feet, the minimum system size is 2.0 kilowatts;

* For 1,501 to 2,000 square feet, the minimum size is 2.3 kilowatts;

* For 2,001 to 2,500 square feet, the minimum size is 2.5 kilowatts;

* For 2,501 to 3,000 square feet, the minimum size is 3 kilowatts; and

* For more than 3,000 square feet, the minimum size is 3.5 kilowatts.

The council had little to say about the apparently non-conversational subject, but City Councilman Brett Lee won support to add a 1,000-square-foot-and-lower category to the recommendation presented by staff and the commission.

And just to make sure developers don’t think they can get out of having solar panels if they design incompatible roofs, Lee suggested that the city require developers with such roof plans to pay an in-lieu fee that might go toward a community solar project in the future.

— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews

 

 

 

Dave Ryan

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