In March 2013, Lancaster, California’s city zoning code was unanimously changed by the city council requiring all housing developers to install solar energy on new homes built as of January 1, 2014. Mayor R. Rex Parris says the goal is to make Lancaster “the solar capital of the universe.” Lancaster is located in northern Los Angeles County with a population of about 160,000.
City solar energy standards list rules for both roof-mounted and ground-mounted systems.
Residential homes on 7,000-square-foot or more lots must have a 1.0 kilowatt to 1.5 kilowatts solar system; rural residential homes up to 100,000-square-feet must have a minimum 1.5 kilowatt system. In 2007, 2,800 new homes would have added 2.8 megawatts of rooftop solar; in 2012 with only 200 new homes, 200 more kilowatts rooftop solar was to be added.
Other rules are:
- builders’ model homes must include the solar system they offer
- subdivision builders can aggregate housing requirements like installing one 10 kW solar system, 2 5 kW or 4 2.5 kW systems for a subdivision of 10 homes
- each phase of housing tract development must meet requirements
- a rooftop or system on support or shadetop can meet multifamily development requirements
- builders can meet the requirements with proof they bought solar energy credits from another city developer’s solar generation.
The city is issuing solar installation permits within 15 minutes compared to 2 months in other cities. To make Lancaster a home for solar industry innovation, the Mayor and city council have created:
the California Clean Energy Authority, which brought in utility-scale solar developers like Silverado Power and a large-scale 700-megawatt pipeline in city boundaries
the High Desert Power Authority, which proposed to CA’s grid operator a new transmission project that would increase renewables-generated electricity delivery to other city utilities and relieve grid congestion between North and South CA
Solar Lancaster, partnering with SolarCity, SunPower and other installers which identified Creative Renewable Energy Zones, added over 27 megawatts of distributed solar across Lancaster, including 7.5 megawatts generated on city schools. 32,094 panels were installed on 25 schools, costing the school district 35 percent less than the electricity it was buying at the time. Home and business owners can install solar systems for no money down and make monthly payments less than what they currently pay for electricity.
Mayor R. Rex Parris’ next plans are to:
- require all new homes meet LEED certification standards
- require all new homes install grey water systems
- require all new homes have battery systems that are energy independent for up to 4 days, when partner BYD’s batteries are certified. BYD stands for Build Your Dreams and is the Chinese panel, battery and electric vehicle maker
- get Lancaster’s street lights off-grid with LED bulbs and batteries.
According to SunPower national director of new home sales, Matt Brost, twenty percent of homes built in California in 2013 will be solar powered. SunPower is working with such major new home builders as KB Homes, Lennar Homes, Richmond American Homes, and Standard Pacific Homes. On February 28, 2013 in Lancaster, KB Homes built its 1,000th new home with SunPower solar panels.
To get up to five quotes for installing solar in the Greenville, South Carolina area from twenty solar installers, see Solar Contacts.