City of Lancaster Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance Approved by California Energy Commission

Lancaster, CA. October 12, 2017 – The City of Lancaster has achieved yet another milestone toward its sustainability goals. Committed to developing a zero net energy community, which produces more energy than it consumes, Lancaster officials and staff continue to pursue avenues that substantiate a truly sustainable blueprint for the City. Toward this end, the City of Lancaster yesterday received approval from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to implement the City’s recently established Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Home Ordinance. The first of its kind in California, Lancaster’s ZNE Home Ordinance mandates the installation of a solar system equivalent to two watts per square foot for each new home built, beginning in 2017. Since this requirement exceeds the State’s current mandate, which is established by the CEC, it is considered a reach code and, therefore, necessitated the CEC’s approval before implementation.

“This is a tremendous next step for our community and the Lancaster City Council’s vision of establishing Lancaster as one of the world’s first zero net energy cities,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We have no reservations regarding acting first and setting the stage with progressive leadership, particularly when it comes to making decisions which will not only benefit our residents with cost savings, but also help to mitigate climate disruption on a much larger scale. I truly hope other municipal leaders will step up and do what is right for their citizens, and society at-large.”

The Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance was initially reviewed in November 2016 by the Lancaster Planning Commission, which recommended the ordinance to the Lancaster City Council the following month. In February of this year, the ZNE Home Ordinance was approved by the Council, and the process for receiving CEC approval began.

In order to comply with the ZNE Home Ordinance, builders have three options: provide a solar component; offer mitigation fees in lieu of a solar component; or arrange for a combination of both. All three options benefit the homeowner.

The builders’ first option is to install a solar component comprising two watts per square foot, based on the size of each home constructed. This option generates a zero-balance energy bill for the homeowner.

The second option available allows builders to pay a Zero Net Energy mitigation/in lieu fee, instead of installing a solar component. The mitigation/in lieu fee is equal to $1.40 per square feet of each constructed home. With this option, the homeowner receives credits for the new Lancaster Choice Energy(LCE) ZNE Home Rate. This special rate will provide the homeowner with a 50% discount on the energy generation portion of their LCE bill for 20 years. The discounted rate does not apply to the transmission and delivery portion of the consumer’s electric bill — the cost of which is charged by Southern California Edison, and not LCE.

As a third option, the builder may choose to combine the two methods listed above. Instead of the size of the solar installation being directly calculated based on the exact square footage of the home, builders can install a two kilowatt (2,000 watt) solar system on each new home of 1,000 square feet or less. For larger homes, the builder then pays a ZNE mitigation/in lieu fee of $1.40 for the remaining square footage of the home (footage exceeding 1,000 square feet). As with option two, the homeowner will receive the LCE ZNE Home Rate – a 50% discount on their generation rate for the next 20 years.