California: New roofs must be solar ready from 2014

The new energy efficiency measures have been "unanimously" approved by the commission. While they are expected to increase construction costs by US$2,290, energy savings over 30 years should exceed $6,200, it believes. "Based on a 30-year mortgage, the standards will add approximately $11 per month for the average home, but save consumers $27 on monthly heating, cooling, and lighting bills," it said in a statement released.

In addition to implementing solar-ready roofs, which will allow both homeowners and businesses to add photovoltaic panels at a later date, the commission has included other such energy saving measures as more efficient windows, insulated hot water pipes and ventilation systems, in order to boost efficiency.

"After 30 years of implementing the Standards, California will save nearly 14,000 megawatt hours or enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes and avoid the need to construct six new power plants," continued the statement.

Market ready mechanism

In related news, the California Public Utilities Commission has amended the state’s feed-in tariff. Under the changes, a new pricing mechanism, the "Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff" or "Re-MAT", has been introduced.

According to the commission, the Re-MAT includes two main components. Firstly, a starting price will be applied to three FIT product types: baseload, peaking as-available, and non-peaking as-available. The starting price – $89.23 – has been based on the weighted average contract price of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Electric Company, and San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s highest priced executed contract, which resulted from the Renewable Auction Mechanism auction held last November.

Secondly, a two-month price adjustment mechanism has been introduced – up from a monthly mechanism – "that may increase or decrease the price for each product type every two months based on the market response."

Further amendments include an increase in the maximum size of eligible facilities from 1.5 to three megawatts, an adjustment in the capacity allocations among the utilities, an adoption of project viability criteria, and the exclusion of small electric utilities from the program.