EDC supervisors support fire rebuilds without solar
El Dorado County supervisors added their names to a list of supporters championing Assembly Bill 704.
Introduced this February by District 8 Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), who represents central valley and southern Sierra Nevada counties, the proposed legislation assists those who lost their homes in a disaster — like the Caldor and Mosquito fires — by eliminating the state’s requirement that their new homes include a solar power system.
“This is a big issue because it’s anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 to put solar on these houses and they didn’t have it prior to these fires,” District 2 Supervisor George Turnboo said at the May 9 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Turnboo and District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl collaborated on the agenda item requesting the board send a letter of support to the Office of the Chief Clerk of the California Assembly and the Secretary of the California Senate.
“I can’t write a bill but I can push a bill,” Turnboo said, adding that he toured the devastation at Grizzly Flat with District 5 Assemblyman Joe Patterson (R-Rocklin), representing El Dorado and Placer counties, who then worked with Jim Patterson on the legislation.
AB 704 explains, “Existing law authorizes the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to prescribe, by regulation, lighting, insulation, climate control system and other building design and construction standards that increase efficiency in the use of energy and water for new residential and new nonresidential buildings, and energy and water conservation design standards for new residential and new nonresidential buildings. Pursuant to this authority, the commission has established regulations requiring solar-ready buildings and for the installation of photovoltaic systems meeting certain requirements for low-rise residential buildings built on or after Jan. 1, 2020.”
The proposed law “would require residential construction intended to repair, restore or replace a residential building damaged or destroyed as a result of a disaster in an area in which a state of emergency has been proclaimed by the governor to comply only with requirements regarding photovoltaic systems pursuant to the regulations, if any, that were in effect at the time the damaged or destroyed residential building was originally constructed and would not require that construction to comply with any additional or conflicting photovoltaic system requirements in effect at the time of repair, restoration or replacement.”
Certain conditions must be met and the exception provided by this legislation would sunset in 2027 if it becomes law. A committee hearing is in the works to move AB 704 forward.
Supervisors unanimously supported sending the letter, which notes the hardships many El Dorado County residents have faced due to recent wildfires — 2022’s Mosquito Fire burned more than 76,000 acres, destroyed 78 structures and damaged 13 more. 2021’s Caldor Fire burned more than 220,000 acres, destroyed 1,000-plus structures and damaged an additional 81.
“This bill would provide relief to homeowners already devastated from the loss or damage to their homes and potentially avoid adding insult to injury by not adding new building standards and costs as a result of a wildfire destruction,” the letter notes.
“Good work on this,” said District 1 Supervisor Wendy Thomas before the board voted on the item as part of its consent calendar.
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