Lancaster Leads in Solar Energy Installation

A new law in Lancaster will require that all new homes be built with rooftop solar panel systems.

If there’s anything that the city of Lancaster, California, is known for, it’s sunlight. The community located in the high desert north of Los Angeles county gets approximately 300 days of sun per year, which makes it the perfect location for widespread integration of solar power. Mayor R. Rex Parris has made it a goal for the city to be completely energy independent, or “net zero” as it’s known, within the next three years.

Among the various policies that have been adopted to make this happen is a law the requires new homes to be built with solar panels. The city has also made it clear that they will accommodate developments and commercial projects that promise to rely on renewable energy for power production.

“We would be the deepest well if you were to imagine that [sunlight] was oil,” Parris told CBS News. “And what’s oil but power? And what’s solar but power?”

Currently, the city derives about half of its electrical needs for solar power, and leads the state in terms of solar power produced per capita. Over six thousand panels have been installed on the city’s buildings, including its baseball stadium, schools and local malls. The increased reliance on photovoltaics has also helped the municipal budget situation. Deputy City Manager Jason Caudle states that Lancaster pays about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour for its solar power, a major improvement over the 18 cents it was charged by utility companies.

And contrary to popular belief that such aggressive renewable energy goals can be a hindrance to economic development, Mayor Parris reports that the city’s residents and businesses have been extremely supportive of the idea, as California solar energy has helped them make their companies more cost-effective. Here’s to the citizens of Lancaster and hoping that many cities follow their example.