More United States cities are taking strong measures to move the clean energy economy forward. This week, South Miami passed a law requiring new houses to be outfitted with solar panels. The law will even apply to some renovations. It’s the first of its kind in Florida, and passed four to one – and some of the inspiration for the law came from a high school student.
High schooler Delaney Reynolds, who was 16 at the time, learned about San Francisco’s 2016 measure requiring solar panels on all new buildings of 10 stories or less. She thought cities in Florida could do the same. Reynolds, who started a nonprofit called The Sink or Swim Project to tackle climate change in South Florida, wrote mayors of around half a dozen cities in her area, according to InsideClimate News, and South Miami mayor Philip Stoddard was the first to reply. He asked Reynolds to help write the ordinance.
Under the law, new homes will have to have 175 square feet of solar panels per 1,000 square feet of roof area in the sun, or 2.75 kilowatts per 1,000 square feet of living space – whichever one is less. If the house is constructed beneath trees already there it may be exempt. If more than 75 percent of an existing home is being replaced by renovations, or if a home is being extended by 75 percent, the new law will apply as well. On Tuesday, the law passed, with only commissioner Josh Liebman voting against it. Liebman said he’s not against solar power but is for freedom of choice. The law will go into effect in September.
Only around 10 new homes are built in the area a year, so Stoddard acknowledges the measure won’t change the world. But he said officials in other areas like Orlando and St. Petersburg have indicated interest, so the idea could spread.