Hawaii Solar Roofs Law

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Hawaii will become the first state in the nation to make solar water heaters compulsory in almost all new homes. The measure, SB 644, was not listed among the 52 bills considered for veto by Governor Linda Lingle, meaning the bill will become law with or without her signature.[1]

Sen. Gary Hooser introduced the measure.

"While the environmental, economic and energy security benefits to Hawaii are significant, the Solar Roofs law also has the potential to have a ripple effect throughout many other 'sunshine states,'" said Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser (D - Kaua'i, Ni'ihau). "I am hopeful that California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and others follow Hawai'i's lead. The potential future public benefits nationwide are enormous."

The Sierra Club estimated that the Solar Roofs law would cut the electric utility bill of an average new home by 30 to 40 percent-saving over $1000 annually for an average household on Kaua'i. The Club estimated that the law would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by upwards of 10,000 tons annually from avoided electricity use.

The Solar Roofs law contains exceptions to the solar requirement if there is poor solar resource or if a solar water heater will be more costly than an electric heater over time. If a new home uses an efficient on-demand gas heater and one other gas appliance, such as a gas stove, they can request a waiver from solar (although gas lines are rarely installed in new subdivisions). The measure requires that the Public Utilities Commission implement standards for performance, materials, components, durability, longevity, sizing, installation, and quality of solar water systems.

The law takes effect January 1, 2010.

Resources

References

  1. "2008 Legislative Session: Wrap-Up and Final Actions," Sierra Club Hawaii chapter web page, accessed June 2008

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