Every year, approximately 2 million new houses are built in the U.S. Should these homes be built so as to generate their own electricity cleanly and renewably? Or should these homes require new grid and dirty-power plant investments, paid for by all ratepayers?

Installing solar systems when homes are built makes sense for several reasons:

  • Installation is cheaper when building a new home than retrofitting an old one;
  • the cost can be wrapped into the mortgage — the best kind of financing;
  • it’s easier to integrate into building components — with the potential for better aesthetics;
  • if solar were incorporated at a large scale, utilities could make the appropriate adjustments to the grid, saving all ratepayers some money.

Which is why the announcement that the City of Roseville is requiring solar on 10-20% of new housing starts is such good news.

Environment California has a list of other similar home developments here.

Unfortunately, like many things born innocent and beautiful, inevitably someone comes along to exploit it for ugly purposes.

Some homebuilders — shockingly — have tried to leverage solar’s popularity to allow development on protected open space.

The money quote:

“The bottom line is they want to build 2,450 homes outside the city on sensitive lands,” said David Reid of the Greenbelt Alliance. “All the solar panels in the world don’t make that environmentally friendly.”

And the voters evidently agreed.