Adobe Stock/CLShebley

Bloomberg's Mark Chediak and Prashant Gopal report that California Energy Commission unanimously decided on May 9 that all new residential buildings, including apartments and condos that are three stories or fewer will be required to have rooftop solar panels starting in 2020 as part of new energy-efficiency standards.

Most new homes built after Jan. 1, 2020, will be required to include solar systems. While that’s a boost for the solar industry, critics warned that it will also drive up the cost of buying a house by almost $10,000. Solar shares surged upon the decision, while home builders fell.

The move underscores how rooftop solar, once a luxury reserved for wealthy, green-leaning homeowners, is becoming a mainstream energy source, with California--the nation’s largest solar market--paving the way. The Golden State has long been at the vanguard of progressive energy policies, from setting energy-efficiency standards for appliances to instituting an economy-wide program to curb greenhouse gases. The housing mandate is part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s effort to slash carbon emissions by 40% by 2030, and offers up a playbook for other states to follow.

“This is huge,” said Rachel Golden, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “It’s a cost-effective measure that is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support growth in renewable clean energy.”

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