Futurism

This U.S. City Now Requires Solar Panels on all New Homes

In Brief


South Miami approved legislation that any new residential building project must have a solar energy aspect. This is a major advancement in a state that has a long and complex history with renewable energy.

From mid-September onward, solar panels will be mandatory for new homes in South Miami, Florida. The law — which was passed with a four-to-one majority — states that builders must install 16 m² (175 ft²) of solar panel per 93 m² (1000 ft²) of sunlit roof area, or one panel with a 2.75 kilowatt capacity per 93 m² (1000 ft²) of living space; the rule also extends to some renovations.

The changes are affirmations that South Miami is marching towards a clean energy future, despite the topic causing friction due to the bent of its Republican leadership, complex deals with fossil fuel-based utilities companies, and numerous battles between citizens and energy suppliers concerning whether independent sellers can compete with energy suppliers.

Phillip Stoddard, the mayor of the city, told the Miami Herald: “We’re the first city in the United States outside of California to approve this […] It’s not going to save the world by itself, but it’s going to get people thinking about [solar].”

However, the law has caused controversy as some parties believe it de-incentivises new buildings. This is because the cost of implementing solar panels will fall on building companies rather than the government covering cost. Eric Montes de Oca, president-elect of the Miami chapter of the Latin Builders Association, further argued to the Miami Herald that the measure essentially means that “anyone who does not want to have solar panels, [is] not welcome to live in South Miami. This, I would argue, runs counter to our individual freedoms.”

South Miami joins a growing number of U.S. cities which have implemented similar rulings: in January, San Francisco began enforcing a rule that buildings 10 stories or shorter have to have either solar panels or water heaters, and Lancaster in California has passed measures to ensure that new houses are renewably self-sufficient.

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