New proposal would require solar panel installments on new homes in St. Pete

New proposal would require solar panel installments on new homes in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Officials are proposing a requirement for solar panel installments in newly constructed houses larger than 1,100 square feet. It would also require homes needing major roof repairs to have solar panels installed. 

This proposal comes after the huge initiative to boost solar-powered homes and to convert to more renewable energy sources.

Florida's chapter of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's Susan Glickman supports the measure and says, "It's just taking advantage of the resources we have."

Some members of city council disagree with the measure, saying that it should be voluntary.

Chairwoman Darden Rice, a former Sierra Club activist who co-founded the Pinellas Living Green Expo says, "If we rush into a mandatory requirement, I don't want us to suffer a backlash that undoes all the things we've already achieved."

Jerry Banfield currently rents a home in St. Petersburg. He says he's all about clean energy.

“I want to build a home from scratch. I want to start completely new and just go ultra-sustainable on everything,’ says Banfield.

But as a prospective homebuyer in St. Pete, he's not okay with being forced to add solar panels to his new home.

“I want solar panel so much that it doesn’t change my perspective but if you tell me to do something that will change my perspective on it,” he says. “It might have the opposite effect if we demand it. It might be better to keep it optional or incentivized than mandatory.”

Karl Floetke, whose daughter is building a home in the area, was upset that this proposal was even being talked about.

“There is no way they should be telling me I have to do that if I live in St.Pete,” says Floetke.

St. Pete Councilman Karl Nurse says the expense of the panels can be added to the mortgage and overall make it cheaper to own a home.

We asked the Councilman about cost. He says there are options out there for homeowners like the Energy Efficient Mortgage, which helps buyers qualify for larger loans.

“It lowers pollution, it creates jobs,” says Nurse. “There is no downside.”

Let's talk about what you could save. The average electric bill is $125. 
 
You'll pay $11 after you pay off the cost of the solar panels. 

However, Nurse says he would like to change the proposal of making a homeowner add the panel if they need major roof repairs.

“You may have a need to put a new roof that has significant repairs that cost $10,000 but now you have to add solar, then you then double the cost of that,” says Nurse. “I don't think it makes sense to try and impose that on people.”

The City Council will discuss the initiative Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Sunshine Center. St. Petersburg would be the second city in Florida to require new homes to have solar panels if the proposal passes.

For more information, check out our news partners at the Tampa Bay Times' article

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