Bill would mandate rooftop solar on new homes and commercial buildings

16/03/2021
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Massachusetts lawmakers proposed a bill that would require rooftop solar on new residential and commercial buildings.

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The Solar Neighborhoods Act (H.D.3098) would mandate that solar panels be installed on the roofs of newly built homes, apartments, and office buildings. A companion bill, S.D.159, was filed in the Senate.

A bill summary said that all new buildings would need to be built “solar-ready.” Within one year of the bill’s passage, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) would develop and adopt amendments to the state’s building code to ensure that roofs are strong enough to support solar panels, that available roof space is maximized, and that buildings can make room for necessary electrical infrastructure.

For single-family homes, the solar energy system would need to produce enough electricity each year to meet 80% of the average demand for similar houses. For other buildings, DOER would set minimum solar energy system requirements.

The proposed Massachusetts mandate is modeled after a similar policy in California and would provide exemptions under certain circumstances.

Buildings may be exempted if the roof is too shaded, if a solar hot water system or other renewable energy technology is installed, or if the building has a green roof. The DOER also could grant exemptions to affordable housing developments.

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