Could solar panels become mandatory on homes in Sunset Beach?

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Solar panels on a Sunset Beach home (Photo: WWAY)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — California recently became the first state to mandate solar panels on new homes, starting in 2020. A Sunset Beach Planning Board member, Bruce Fadem, wants to do the same in his community, but he may not get his way, thanks to North Carolina law.

“The technology’s here to make people live better, easier, and cheaper. Why not take advantage?” Fadem said.

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Fadem wants to make rooftop solar panel arrays mandatory on new construction in Sunset Beach. He discussed his proposal with his fellow Planning Board members at Thursday morning’s meeting.

He cited the environmental and economic benefits for new residents to install the panels on their homes.

“I’ve always been interested in solar panels and green communities,” Fadem said. “I think we’re over-reliant on our grid system and also the generation plants. Actually, I got into it for myself to look for a way to minimize my electrical bill, and this, in my opinion, would cut down my electrical bill by 25 percent.”



Brunswick Electric currently has five members with rooftop solar panels in Sunset Beach. The utility says it would cost $17,000-$20,000 for an average array at a home in the community.

“Solar energy’s here to stay. North Carolina’s No. 2 in the nation for popularity and feasibility of solar. It doesn’t work for everybody, but we’re certainly in support of all the different options that come our way for solar,” Brunswick Electric spokesperson Heather Holbrook said.

Unfortunately for Fadem, the community cannot currently mandate the solar panels under North Carolina law, according to interim Town Administrator and Planning Director Hiram Marziano. That is not stopping Fadem from getting the conversation started.

Planning Board member Ron LaBruno suggested an alternate plan, where developers would give homebuyers options on solar panels, rather than the town making them mandatory.

The board will discuss this proposal and any modifications to it at a later date.