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Miami begins mandating rooftop solar panels on new homes

(AP Photo/Matt York, file)

Homeowners who want to build in South Miami are now legally required to purchase solar panels and have them installed on their roof, according to new housing regulations passed by city officials this week.

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a biology professor at Florida International University, began championing the idea after he received letter from a local high school student named Delaney Reynolds.

Under the new regulations, construction of any home in the South Miami area after September 18th will be required to install solar panels on a portion of the roof to help ensure the home is partially powered by renewable energy.

Even though the proposal is intended to help promote alternative renewable energy use in homes, Stoddard also admitted that it will have a minuscule impact, as roughly 10 new homes are constructed in South Miami per year.

While it’s important to debate the economics of solar panels in lowering a home’s energy cost (Stoddard claims to only pay $10 a month with panels on his home), this new rule may also prove to be extraordinarily costly for people looking to build in South Miami.

According to Solar City, Elon Musk’s solar roof company, assembling a roof that is 70 percent solar efficient costs upwards of $50,000 for the average homeowner, compared to roughly $10,000 for a regular rooftop of shingles.

Additionally, individuals who own their home are required to pay homeowner’s tax on the property, which is assessed for a value that changes based on a number of factors in the city. Adding a $50,000 roof to a home in areas with a high cost of living such as Miami will significantly increase the value of the property, resulting in higher annual property taxes for the homeowner.

With regards to the issue of increased property tax, Elon Musk has acknowledged that this will cost homeowners more money on taxes, saying “the economics are not yet compelling where housing and utility costs are low and property taxes are high.”

That’s a lot of real life economic implications stemming from a letter penned by a local high school student.

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