What Is The New Solar Homes Partnership?

The California Energy Commission's New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) is part of the comprehensive statewide solar program, known as the California Solar Initiative. The NSHP provides financial incentives and other support to home builders, encouraging the construction of new, energy efficient solar homes that save homeowners money on their electric bills and protect the environment.

What is an NSHP Solar Home?

In California's New Solar Homes Partnership, a solar home is a highly energy efficient home that uses photovoltaic (or PV) modules to generate electricity from the sun. While the science to convert sunlight directly into electricity has been around for decades, in recent years both the technology and economics have improved for photovoltaics, and now systems are becoming mainstream. Currently, California has tens of thousands of homeowners enjoying the benefits of solar on their homes.

A solar home with high energy-efficiency features offers homeowners:

  • Clean, renewable energy
  • Utility bill savings
  • Predictable utility costs
  • Protection against future rising electricity costs

Becoming a Partner Builder in the New Solar Homes Partnership

The California Energy Commission is pleased to welcome new home builders as partners in the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) campaign.

Builders in California that integrate solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity systems and high energy-efficiency standards throughout their developments are eligible to participate and receive financial incentives.

California to Require Solar on All New Homes Starting in 2020

On May 9, 2018, with an historic vote, the California Energy Commission (CEC) unanimously agreed 5 – 0 to require solar on all new homes in California starting in 2020, becoming the first state in the country with the clean energy requirement.  The new rules will also include a solar plus storage option to give consumers more clean energy choices.

"Today, California made history. We are building a better future for consumers and the environment by embracing innovation and smart technologies,” said Kelly Knutsen, Director of Technology Advancement for the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA). “Adding solar on all new homes, and giving consumers a solar plus storage option, will make our homes super energy efficient while generating their own clean energy. This is a win-win for consumers and the environment."

The CEC voted today to further increase the clean energy requirements in the California Building Energy Standards.  Updated every three years, the standards require California homes and businesses to meet strong energy efficiency measures, lowering their energy use.  For the first time, they will require solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to be installed on all new low-rise residential buildings starting January 1, 2020.  Low-rise residential buildings include single family homes and multi-family buildings of three stories or less; therefore apartments and condos are included in the new standards.  Additionally, the vote sets a path forward for solar plus storage in new homes by providing a storage option if the homeowner chooses.  The standards also continue solar water heating provisions for larger buildings, allowing solar energy continue to help reduce the water heating needs of our buildings.

For the past three years, the CEC performed detailed analysis on the new requirements, and gathered official public input from all stakeholders -- utilities, home builders, solar industry, lighting industry.  Their analysis showed the new solar requirement will be cost-effective in all climate zones in the state – from the mountains to the Central Valley to the coast.  The CEC stated today that the savings on the homeowners’ energy bills will be about $80 per month compared to adding roughly $40 per month to the mortgage payment, so the monthly savings are twice as high as the additional cost.  Homeowners would be saving on average almost $500 a year because of the new mandate.

Currently the solar industry installs solar on roughly 150,000 new and existing homes in California each year, with roughly 15,000 of those projects being new homes.  California on average builds 80,000 new homes annually.  Starting in 2020, all those homes will have solar; a four-fold increase compared to today.

Check out these news reports in the New York TimesLA TimesAP (Bakersfield), San Diego Union-Tribune and a live interview on CNBC's Closing Bell today.