South Miami is set to become the first city in Florida to mandate solar panels on new homes.
On Wednesday, the City Commission approved the ordinance on a second reading, in a 4-1 vote. The new law would require owners of new homes -- including single-family homes, townhouses and multi-story residential buildings -- to install solar panels. It also applies to owners who expand their homes by 75% or greater.
Once the measure is passed, South Miami would become the fourth U.S. city that requires new homes to be installed with solar panels. San Francisco and two small cities in California have similar renewable energy building laws.
South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard has been a major proponent of such legislation, and he’s been vocal about combating climate change. The city’s goal is to eliminate net emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by the end of 2030.
“If you don't have solar on your house, you're leaving a lot of money on the table,” said Mayor Stoddard. “The homeowner benefits, the home's sell faster so realtors benefit; the home builders benefit because the value of the house is higher. Everybody benefits, so what's the problem?"
The ordinance states the solar panel mandate will be cost effective for new construction, cut electricity costs for homeowners and reduce greenhouse gases.
However, a major opponent of the measure, Family Businesses for Affordable Energy, argues it will increase costs for residents. The group says poor residents will be greatly affected by the ordinance. The group wants added safety and consumer protections to the ordinance to protect residents, according to FBAE’s Facebook page.
Despite some push back, South Miami will likely pass the measure at the next city commission reading scheduled for Tuesday.