Mayor in California Orders Solar Power for All Homes

The mayor of the small desert town of Lancaster, California, is on a mission to brand his community the solar capital of California, and beyond that, as the solar energy capital of the world.  Lancaster soaks up an intense amount of desert sun rays, and Mayor R. Rex Parris has decided to ensure his citizens make use of them.  He has proposed an update to the city’s building code so that as of Jan. 1, 2014, all newly constructed single-family homes must include a minimum of a 1.0 kW solar system.

Lancaster, Cali.

Lancaster, Cali.

This is a bold, progressive, and commendable project (especially coming from a Republican leader!).  Parris realizes that these new regulations will not go unopposed by the construction industry, saying: “I understand the building industry is not happy with this. We will just have to take the heat. I could not do that without a city council — made up of people who want a political career — with the courage to take that heat.”  solar_panels_on_houses-61591

A draft of the zoning update reads: “The purpose of the solar energy system standards is to encourage investment in solar energy on all parcels in the city, while providing guidelines for the installation of those systems that are consistent with the architectural and building standards of the City.”  With this move, coupled with Lancaster’s financing program for home owners, businesses and NGOS called Solar Lancaster, this southern Republican town is looking more progressive than any of their Liberal northern neighbours.  Hopefully moves like this will inspire and set the bar a little higher for cities across the globe.

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11 Comments on “Mayor in California Orders Solar Power for All Homes”

  1. redwallaus March 8, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    very commendable idea, very risky given the current economic climate but hopefully it is a success and adopted by other towns and cities around the world.

    • utopiandreaming March 8, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      Absolutely. It is *necessary* given the current economic climate, as Big Oil isn’t going to do anyone (or the planet) any favours. Hopefully more mayors follow Parris’ lead!

    • andhastings March 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Agreed, it’s both commendable and risky, especially since California is buried in debt. Still, I think this idea is amazing.

      • utopiandreaming March 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

        We need to stop thinking about conventional crude as being more economical than clean energy, though. Developing solar energies could be great for their economy, not the other way around. Best of luck to them, hope they become a model solar city!

  2. Jeff Nguyen March 8, 2013 at 1:54 am #

    The corporate capitalists who have found a way to sell us bottled water will surely figure out how to commoditize oxygen and sunlight. Freedom isn’t free, after all.

    • utopiandreaming March 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      Haha… sadly, that’s likely an accurate prediction.

      • redwallaus March 8, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

        I think you both may have left your tin foil hats on this morning. I wouldnt be worried about “big oil” crushing the solar dream. There are technical issues in the way electric networks are designed, especially the older networks are only designed for electricity to flow in one direction and the more people on one street that push power back into grid the more INEFFICIENT each houses solar setup is (think ohms and resistance etc) so further to these schemes for getting panels on houses the city also needs to spend the money on smarter modern grids and not just replicate the old model for new suburbs. This of course still leaves an issue for older suburbs….

  3. utopiandreaming March 8, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Those grid issues would not be difficult to improve if renewable energy received nearly as much subsidizing as the fossil fuel industry, so ‘big oil’ is a player in the way. However we aren’t saying that it will crush the solar dream, surely solar and renewables will continue developing and grids can be modernized with proper funding and attention. We were joking that something like Big Solar would develop in Big Oil’s place, lol…

  4. redwallaus March 9, 2013 at 2:44 am #

    Interesting point, I totally agree that more funding is needed. In Australia I think wheat an attitude mainly of “it’s only for rich people” or “it’s still a science experiment”

    So extra funding can’t come as an addition to traditional power funding and can be removed if the project runs over budget. It has to be a core part of a project and a key part of a state/city/town/suburbs infrastructure.

    We also need modern storage facilities as well. There is research into various “organic batteries” or flywheels to store green energy which could be distributed throughout a suburb and drained during peak usage rather than fall back to coal/oil

  5. jpgreenword March 10, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    I believe that this type of legislation, as has been mentioned in the above comments, essential. And, honestly, I do see the “risk considering the economic climate”. If you are building a home as of 2014, simply design it to be smaller! Let’s say that a solar PV panel costs $10,000. At $150 per square foot (which is reasonable here in Canada), that’s a reduction in size of about 67 square feet! And, let’s be honest, North Americans have a habit of building excessively large homes.

    And if you want to make this “pill easier to swallow”, put in place a feed-in tariff so that any energy that is produced but not consumed by the home can be sold to the grid. This makes the panels not only a way to save on their electricity bills, but a source of revenue! And if it works in Germany (where they get about as much sunlight as Alaska), it will work wonders in California!

    • utopiandreaming March 11, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

      Great points. And indeed — the German’s have it down!

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