Mar 07 2013
In the high desert city of Lancaster, Calif., not too far from where telephone pole-hoarding folk hero Alan Kimble Fahey was forced to demolish his home and where a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad known only as The Bride had her nuptials officially ruined, mayor R. Rex Parris recently announced a pioneering update to the city’s residential building code: Starting on Jan. 1, 2014, all newly constructed single-family homes must include a 1.0 kW solar system at bare minimum.
A law mandating solar for all new homes? That’s right … a bold — and certainly historic — move but not entirely surprising for the Los Angeles County city of more than 155,000 that leads the state of California in solar generating capacity. Parris, hell-bent on branding his sprawling Antelope Valley community not just as the solar capital of California but as the “solar energy capital of the world,” has already overseen some major photovoltaic-related developments in the past couple of years.
Most notably, in 2010 Lancaster partnered with SolarCity to launch a successful solar financing program for homeowners, nonprofits and businesses called Solar Lancaster. According to Greentech Media, the 1.45-megawatt program — it extends not only to private homes and businesses but also to city hall, the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, Clear Channel Stadium, churches, schools and more — will generate $1.5 million annually through 2017 and then $800,000 per year for the next 20 years. Hey, when you’re blessed with 300 days of sunshine, a high altitude, and a whole lot of flat roofs, going for broke when it comes to solar investments only seems logical (even in a heavily conservative town led by a no-nonsense Republican mayor).