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An Entire Town Aims For Net-Zero

A California community requires every new home to include a PV system as it strives to become the solar capital ‘of the universe’

Posted on Apr 9 2013 by Scott Gibson

In Lancaster, California, net-zero energyProducing as much energy on an annual basis as one consumes on site, usually with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaics or small-scale wind turbines. is taking on a whole new meaning. The city of 150,000, about an hour north of Los Angeles, will require most new homes to include photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. panels as it tries to becomes the first city to produce more solar electricity than the city consumes on a daily basis.

According to an account in The New York Times, Lancaster will need to add another 126 megawatts of capacity to the 39 MW it already has, and the 50 MW now under construction, to meet the goal.

Lancaster's mayor, a lawyer named R. Rex Parris, has been instrumental in pushing the city toward a solar future. The pro-business Republican has teamed up with manufacturers and installers, including the Chinese firm BYD and developer KB Home, and says his own house has the biggest residential solar array in town.

One of Lancaster's largest PVPhotovoltaics. Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic (PV) cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. projects was for its school system. After rejecting one proposal as too expensive, the city created its own municipal utility, bought more than 32,000 solar panels, and installed 7.5 MW of PV on 25 schools.

New homes must include PV systems

According to a post at GreenTechMedia, the zoning changes approved by the Lancaster City Council require solar panels with a capacity of between 1 kW and 1.5 kW on houses built on lots of 7,000 sq. ft. or more. Rural homes on lots of up to 100,000 sq. ft. must have a system rated at 1.5 kW. Developers of subdivisions will be permitted to build larger, common systems.

Among other requirements, a builder's model home has to include the type of solar system that will be offered, the post said.

Parris apparently has his sights set on more than just solar. He also would like to see the city require all new homes be built to LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. standards, and that all new houses have gray-water systems.

According to GreenTechMedia, the mayor said, "The salvation of this planet, if it is not already too late, will be from the bottom up, and there is no reason Lancaster can't be the example for the world."

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  1. City of Lancaster

Apr 9, 2013 5:44 PM ET

Just a dream
by Armando Cobo

It has been my dream for a decade that all new homes in the USA, by code, get to have renewable energy, and with the price of PV, there is no reason to not get it done. Bravo to Lancaster, CA. Maybe other towns around the country will follow the example.

Apr 11, 2013 7:33 PM ET

Congratulations !
by Hein Bloed

Dont rest on it. Otherwise we gonna send you another Schwarzenegger :)

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