Monday, January 10, 2011


Solar Water Heater exemptions

By Henry Curtis

There is a law requiring new homes to have solar water heaters, but they can be exempted from that requirement.

Ian Lind has published an article on solar water heaters: "The headline said 'home builders skirt solar law,' but did they really? The story appeared on the front page of the Sunday Star-Advertiser’s Money section, the headline in bold stretching the width of the page. A subhead added: 'More than 20% of new homes use loophole to avoid adding solar.'"

When the proposed law was moving through the Legislature it was opposed by The Gas Company (which wanted gas heaters) and the solar industry (who do not make money if the developer builds solar into the new house -- but makes money from homeowners who install solar on roofs of new homes after they are built).

Unfortunately, waiting until the house is built before contacting a solar water heater installer means than only 25% of the houses get solar water heaters.

As the Legislation moved forward The Gas Company agreed to support the bill if an exemption were place in the law. The Solar Industry refused to compromise or offer alternatives.

So the Legislature included The Gas Company exemption.

The Gas Company exemption means 20% of new homes do not get solar water heaters. The solar industry would have increased this to 75%.


It's not clear to me why the people's representatives in the legislature have to negotiate with the gas company and the solar industry to pass a law. While their input should be welcomed the interest of the people is priority one. Is someone getting a political payoff or is the legislature unsure of it's duties?

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