New Calif. homes would have to be energy producers

> Associated Press) - Apr 12 - By STEVE LAWRENCE Associated Press Writer
> If state Assemblywoman Lori Saldana has her way, buyers of
> California homes built a little more than a decade from now would not
> have to worry about paying big electricity bills. The homes would
> produce power themselves.
> The San Diego Democrat has introduced legislation that would
> require all homes built starting in about 2020 to be so-called zero
> net energy buildings. That means they would be extremely energy
> efficient and produce enough power to offset any electricity they draw
> from the grid.
> That homegrown power would probably come from solar panels. But
> it also could be generated by nearby wind or geothermal plants, said
> Bernadette Del Chiaro, a clean energy advocate with the group
> Environment California, which supports the bill.
> The measure is on the agenda of the Assembly Natural Resources
> Committee on Monday. It is one of more than 400 bills scheduled to be
> considered this week as lawmakers return from an Easter recess.
> "What you do is use the grid like a giant battery," Del Chiaro
> said.
> "You send surplus energy during the day to the grid and then offset
> that by drawing energy from the grid at night. That's how you
> basically get the bill down to nothing."
> Saldana's legislation would require new homes to meet zero net
> energy requirements by Jan. 1, 2020, or when the California Energy
> Commission determines that use of solar systems is cost-effective,
> whichever comes later.
> Del Chiaro said she expects that currently available state
> rebates and federal tax breaks will create enough of a mainstream
> market for solar systems over the next 10 years to cut their cost in
> half.
> Saldana said her bill would help cut the emissions blamed for
> global warming by reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
> "About a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions are related to
> buildings
> - heating and cooling them," she said. "Looking at ways to build
> smarter will have significant and beneficial impacts on reducing
> greenhouse gases and avoiding more impacts of climate change."
> Tim Coyle, senior vice president of the California Building
> Industry Association, said new homes being built in California today
> already are highly energy efficient. He said Saldana should be looking
> for ways to reduce electricity use in older housing instead of
> targeting new construction.
> "If the goal is to reduce fossil fuel dependency, why not go
> where the problem is?" he said.
> New solar-equipped homes are popular with buyers, he said, but
> including that equipment can add $15,000 to $50,000 to the cost of
> construction.
> "That's a pretty pricey premium to pay on a new home," Coyle
> said.
> Saldana said the additional cost could be recouped by cutting
> electricity bills over a period of years.
> She introduced essentially the same bill last year. It passed the
> Assembly but died in the Senate. She's hopeful that it will clear both
> houses this time.