A lot can happen in three decades. It’s been no different for the solar industry. As the longest standing solar company in the U.S., our nearly 40 years of experience have led us through some incredible milestones. SunPower's latest achievement revolves around new home construction, recently topping our 100,000th home with a fresh set of solar panels. But to truly celebrate this momentous occasion, we’re taking a look back at all of the events that got us to this point in our story. So, take a walk down memory lane with us and stick around to see what we’re planning to do next.
In 2006, California’s former governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown signed a law that would be the catalyst for a new market for the solar industry. The 1 Million Solar Roofs Initiative helped diversify rooftop solar power by encouraging new home builders to incorporate solar systems as a standard feature on homes within their communities. During this time, SunPower’s influence in new home construction really kicked off. The housing market was booming and SunPower began to craft key relationships with the nation’s top home builders, but things would soon change with the recession in 2008.
As new home construction builders looked for ways to stand out to potential new home buyers in a slow market, eco-friendly options like solar energy became a key differentiator. And while this certainly helped, more was needed to offset the costs of solar installations during a declining economy. As a result, we developed additional affordable financing options to help new home builders provide their communities with high-quality solar systems that would reduce rising electricity costs for their homeowners. This helped the new home construction sector pull through the recession and showcase the resiliency of the solar industry all the way through to our next major milestone.
The year 2019 brought multiple big wins for solar energy. For one thing, the Golden State hit its goal of hosting one million rooftop solar homes. Another development that would ultimately change the trajectory of clean energy in the state was an update to its Title 24 energy code. The code would now require that all new homes have solar power. While SunPower had been working with some of the nation’s top home builders for a number of years before this change, this new requirement accelerated solar installations within new home construction.
Since 2019, the Title 24 energy code has undergone additional iterations, but one thing remains the same, renewable energy is now a constant. Title 24 requires solar power on an array of various home types, including multifamily homes. It also is paving the way for the adoption of solar battery storage. Builders are now encouraged to develop homes that are equipped for the easy installation of a solar battery. Specifications with the energy code are often updated and can get quite detailed. That’s why more builders are choosing solar companies like SunPower to partner with. Our team helps single family and multifamily builders maximize their profit by staying compliant with the Title 24 energy code as it pertains to clean energy solutions like solar power and solar storage.
One of the most recent milestones that has helped spur on new home development with solar energy is the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The climate bill contains tax credits and incentives for sustainable Americans looking to reduce their carbon footprint and electrify their homes. Among its advantages are benefits specifically designated for new home developers. The national footprint of the IRA is helping SunPower further expand access to its highly sought after solar panels, solar battery storage and electric vehicle chargers across the United States. Currently, SunPower’s top five states with the most solar-topped new construction homes are Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Florida and Maryland.
Our journey has come full circle, arriving at the 100,000th solar installation which was installed within the Sterling Ranch development in Littleton, Colorado. This area is a master planned community that is actively pursuing a clean energy-based future for the residents. One of the seven builders within the development, Dream Finders Homes, has partnered with SunPower to help make a clean energy-based future come to life for their home buyers. The 100,000th installation of solar on one of their homes symbolizes the movement of a cleaner energy future.
If you ever catch yourself there gazing at the mountain view, you may just pass by a historical moment for SunPower and the home that proudly adorns our 100,000th new home solar array.