July 24, 2017

New Homes Will Now Require Solar Panels in South Miami, a First in Florida

Anyone building a new house in South Miami — or in some cases renovating existing ones — will have to install solar panels after the city commission approved a groundbreaking law Tuesday night.

The measure, the first of its kind in Florida, will go into effect in two months on Sept 18.

The ordinance passed 4-1 Tuesday night, with commissioner Josh Liebman dissenting.

Under the rules, new residential construction would require 175 square feet of solar panel to be installed per 1,000 square feet of sunlit roof area, or 2.75 kw per 1,000 square feet of living space, whichever is less. If the house is built under existing trees, the shade may exempt it.

Home renovations that replace more than 75 percent of the structure or extend the structure by more than 75 percent would also have to follow the new ordinance.

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a biology professor at Florida International University, has championed this measure. His entire home runs on solar and he drives an electric car. His monthly electric bill is about $10.

“Solar reduces the cost of home ownership, it makes houses sell faster, it returns more to a builder, it makes local jobs, and most importantly, it reduces carbon emissions today to help our children and grandchildren have a better future tomorrow,” he said Tuesday night.

Liebman said Tuesday night he is not against solar, but supports “the freedom of choice’’ for the city’s residents.

He also said he was concerned that nearly 7 percent of the city’s budget comes from fees the utility pays to the city.

“So even if we were were going to give up one-sixth of that, it would still be 1 percent of our budget. Where is the substitute?”

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