With the ongoing certainty of sunrise, the use of renewable energy is becoming cheaper, more attractive, and more common.

The promise of free fuel coupled with better technology is changing the energy economy by reducing our need for oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power. Every Tesla and Prius you see on the road, along with every wind farm, dam and solar array you see or read about, represents less demand for traditional fuels. As these changes begin to take hold, it’s little wonder that the price of West Texas Intermediate crude fell from $141.95 a barrel in 2008 to just $55.80 in early March.

The essential benefit of renewable energy – with sunlight virtually everywhere – is that it can replace much of the coal, oil, and natural gas we now extract, transport, and burn. The global, political and environmental implications are substantial and undeniable. After all, nobody wants another oil spill, or political conflicts over fuel. And, if energy costs can be reduced at the same time, that’s a very pleasant bonus.

But, how to we move forward in effectively harnessing the power of the sun?

While the increasing use of renewable energy is inevitable, the path forward is unclear. Yes, a lot of free fuel is out there, but there’s a huge difference between the promise of sunny days with billowing winds and the certainty of reliable power. At stake are future revenues and profits worth hundreds of billions of dollars as well as entirely new approaches to power generation and distribution.

California’s Solar Mandate

Starting in 2020, every new home constructed in California will be required to have some form of solar capacity. While it should be noted that the requirement is not specifically for each home to have its own onsite or rooftop solar system (centralized or community systems are potentially allowed), this mandate is definitely a game changer for builders, homebuyers, mortgage lenders and installers alike.

Outfitting new houses with solar panels can be advantageous to buyers because home builders will be able to purchase at wholesale prices and install systems while homes are still under construction. Savings can be passed on to home buyers or at least be part of the new home sale negotiation process. When the market is strong, builders can charge a premium and when sales slow down, buyers will be able to buy at discount.

Sounds fairly straightforward, right? Not so fast.

To learn more, read the full article in the May/June issue of Think Realty Magazine.

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  • Peter G. Miller

    Peter G. Miller is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, the author of seven books published originally by Harper & Row (one with a co-author), and for many years a Washington-based journalist.

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