- Target: Net zero city for electricity use by 2020
- Status: In progress
- RES: Solar energy
- Implementation: In 2008, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris initiated the net zero city campaign by launching the “Solar Lancaster” program, an innovative public-private partnership with solar firm SolarCity which enables local residents and businesses to install solar energy systems at a significant cost savings over their existing energy bills. He also led an initiative to streamline and fast-track renewable energy developments of all types, from small single-home installations to larger developments which will provide hundreds of megawatts of renewable energy. In relation to solar permits, Lancaster’s approval process for homeowners wanting to install solar energy was shortened. What usually took weeks or even months in some jurisdictions, now could be performed over-the-counter. Furthermore, zoning adjustments were made to expand the installation of different types renewable energy systems throughout the city. By 2013, a new ordinance was in place requiring new single family residential units been built on or after January 1, 2014 to provide solar-generated power at a minimum average of 1kW per unit. To date, over 1700 single-family residential solar permits have been issued, and more than 100 homeowners and businesses have taken advantage of the Solar Lancaster program.
Solar energy systems on six municipal facilities generate 1.5 MW of renewable energy and help save taxpayers approximately $6 million over 15 years. The city’s Lancaster Power Authority, formed in 2011, partnered with Eastside and Lancaster School Districts is installing 7.5 MW of solar energy-producing parking shade structures at 25 school sites. These projects will provide substantial energy savings and generate an estimated revenue of $20 million. Other success stories include the KB-BYD project, which united China-based technology and manufacturing giant Build Your Dreams (BYD) with KB Home to create an affordable solar energy housing community. BYD’s advanced battery technology will provide households with a way to use solar energy and help store the energy for use during nighttime hours or power outages. The City also actively recruits solar developers. The firm First Solar established its 230 MW AV Solar Ranch One in summer 2011, and Lancaster is already home to the nation’s first 5 MW power tower, constructed by eSolar. Other projects include a partnership with US Topco Energy, Inc., a division of Topco Scientific Taiwan, to build 50 MW utility-scale solar systems, and Beautiful Earth Group’s construction of two 19 MW photovoltaic plants. Each plant will be able to annually generate 16 gigawatt hours of electricity, approximately enough energy to power 10,000 homes. In 2013, Antelope Valley Solar Projects began construction of a 579 MW project. This SunPower technology project encompasses more than 3,000 acres and is anticipated to bring approximately 650 jobs to the Antelope Valley. To create a mechanism to spread Lancaster’s success and expertise in the field of renewable energy, the city led the establishment of the California Clean Energy Authority (CCEA). In addition, the City created the High Desert Power Authority (HDPA) to support the transmission of renewable electricity from Lancaster and the surrounding region to high-demand areas in the Los Angeles basin. Job creation is a key component of Lancaster’s renewable energy strategy. To accomplish this, the City is partnering with local higher education institutions such as the University of Antelope Valley to develop programs to ensure that the local workforce has the skills needed for future jobs in the renewable energy industry.
- Population: 160,106 (2016)
- Area: 94.56 sq mi (244.91 km2)
- Link: https://www.cityoflancasterca.org/about-us/sustainability/alternative-energy