The mid-sized city of Lancaster, California, has big dreams when it comes to clean energy. Almost every public building from its City Hall to the minor-league baseball stadium is powered by solar. In 2013, Lancaster became the first U.S. city to require solar panels be installed on every new single-family home. Now, the 160,000-people city wants to make history again, and become the country’s first to go net-zero, producing as much energy as it consumes.
To that end, the City Council is adopting a new ordinance complementing the town’s existing solar panel requirements. New homes will be required to have solar panels generating two watts of energy for every square foot (a more aggressive demand than the 1-kilowatt-per-house rule in the 2013 policy), pay mitigation fees of $1.40 per square foot to get a 50 percent discount on the energy generation component of their bill, or a combination of both.
The city is currently conducting a feasibility study to understand the effects of the ordinance. They’ll also have to get approval from the California Energy Commission before implementing the energy requirements. However, the plan is expected to be put into effect by the end of 2017.
“This is a great stride in Lancaster’s journey to become a Zero Net City,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris in a statement. “The Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance expands upon Lancaster’s residential solar ordinance so that new homes built in Lancaster now will not only be environmentally friendly, but have a zero net impact on our environment, while reducing energy costs for the homeowners.”