City of Lancaster Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance Effective January 1, 2018

Lancaster, CA. November 3, 2017 – The City of Lancaster’s California Energy Commission–approved Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Home Ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2018. The first of its kind in California, the Ordinance mandates the installation of a solar system equivalent to two watts per square foot for each new home built. The City is providing three options by which homebuilders can comply with the new regulation.

“This is about building out a truly sustainable community. We are trying to encourage production and opportunity, while also but shifting the primary basis for the way things traditionally get done,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Zero net energy homes are better for the environment, provide homeowners tremendous savings in energy costs, and forge a new standard for development projects that should be centered around improving future outcomes for world communities. It is our hope that what we are doing and requiring of our constituents truly impacts other municipalities and their outlook regarding local developments.”

The three builder options available for ZNE Home Ordinance compliance include providing a solar component on each new home; offering mitigation fees to homeowners, in lieu of a solar component; or arranging for a combination of both option one and two. The homeowner benefits from any of these options.

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

The second option allows builders to pay a Zero Net Energy mitigation/in lieu fee equal to $1.40 per square feet of each constructed home. The homeowner receives credits for the new Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) ZNE Home Rate, which provides the homeowner with a 50% discount on the energy generation portion of their LCE bill for 20 years. The discounted rate only applies to LCE’s energy generation portion of the consumer’s electricity bill, and not to Southern California Edison’s transmission and delivery portion.

The builder’s third option combines the two methods listed above, permitting the installation of only a two-kilowatt (2,000 watt) solar system on each new home of 1,000 square feet or less. Homeowners of larger homes receive the ZNE mitigation/in lieu fee of $1.40 for the remaining square footage exceeding 1,000 square feet. As with option two, the homeowner also receives the LCE ZNE Home Rate of 50% off their generation rate for the next 20 years.

“The City is offering several options to help homebuilders determine which offering best accommodates their buildout plans,” Mayor Parris added. “Through this initiative, we hope to motivate more builders to transition to sustainable practices. Plain and simple, this is the only logical step forward, both environmentally and economically, for any truly progressive community that values the livability of its infrastructure for future generations.”

Lancaster (California) is “Solar Capital of the Universe”

Lancaster, California, produces more solar power per capita than any other city in the state. Devastated by the recession of 2009, when unemployment rose to 17%, the city has made its commitment to solar the basis of its economic rebirth. Today it is home to the BYD truck and bus factory, which just finished an expansion that tripled its original size.

Lancaster mayor Rex Parris calls his city “the solar capital of the universe.” Described by some as “an arrogant bully and an unstoppable control freak,” the three-term Republican has been an unflagging champion of solar power. “Had it not been for his leadership, we would not be on this journey,” said Lancaster city manager Mark Bozigian.

SolarCity, the company started by Elon Musk’s cousins and which was subsequently purchased by Tesla, has partnered with Lancaster to install rooftop solar systems on virtually all municipal buildings and schools in the city. Lancaster also changed its building code to require that new homes include rooftop solar, the first city in America to take that bold step. Not only is BYD the largest employer in the city, it also partnered with KB Home to build affordable homes that feature solar panels, battery storage, and LED lighting.Today, housing prices have rebounded and unemployment is less than 6%. Parris says his clean energy policies have created 1,000 new jobs within the city, which sits north of Los  Angeles and south of Bakersfield. “I think Lancaster is a fantastic story about clean energy and job creation, and it’s a great American story about reinventing,” said Jeff Tannenbaum, chair of sPower, a solar developer that has worked with Lancaster on several large-scale solar projects. “The Republican mayor has reinvented Lancaster as a clean energy capital.”

City manager Bozigian believes that local governments have all the tools they need to address climate change. “The mayor is in charge of building permits. Not the federal government,” he says. When Mayor Parris speaks about the city’s clean energy campaign, he does so with a photo of Donald Trump nearby. He points to the photo and tells his audience, “He doesn’t issue building permits. I do.”

The permitting process for rooftop solar systems can be lengthy with lots of delays built in. Not in Lancaster. Today, approvals take about 15 minutes. “It’s so business friendly here, it’s not even funny,” says Jim Cahill, a vice president at SolarCity.

The city made a decision to buy its electricity from solar power plants built within the city itself. That not only provides jobs for local workers, it also lowers the cost of electricity for city residents. That initiative has been so successful, Lancaster is helping other Southern California cities set up similar programs. Now Mayor Parris has his sights on creating a regional market for locally produced solar power. Together with several surrounding communities, Lancaster is planning to build a transmission like to deliver clean energy to Los Angeles.

“If other cities, or this state, had leaders like Mayor Parris and the Lancaster City Council, they would all be doing it,” said Bozigian. “You need to have guts, and you need to be decisive. You need to know what’s right, get the information you need, make a decision and do it.”

Parris may be unusual for someone who calls himself a Republican, but he is not alone. Halfway across the country, Georgetown, Texas, is committed to being a city that runs entirely on renewable energy. Republican mayor Dale Ross says it’s not about ideology or politics. Ross, who is a trained CPA, says it’s about dollars and cents.

“The revolution is here,” he says. “And I’m a good little Republican, a right-wing fiscal conservative, but when it comes to making decisions based on facts, that’s what we do. How is anybody going to compete with wind and solar?” he asks.

When the city started considering its options for long-term electricity in 2015, coal was simply too expensive and natural gas providers were only willing to lock in prices for 7 years. Wind farm suppliers, though, were willing to make a 25 year commitment. Now city residents pay about 25% less for their electricity than they did before.

Ross says Donald Trump was his 8th or 9th choice among the Republican candidates for president. “When Trump was campaigning, he was talking about clean coal and we’re going to bring coal jobs back? That is a mirage, that is not going to happen,” he says. “Coal is one of the most expensive forms of fossil fuels to produce. And those jobs are never going to come back, ever. They’re done.”

His opinions about the EPA dismantling the Clean Power Plan are equally acerbic. “Isn’t that sort of like putting a Band-Aid on somebody that has terminal cancer?” Ross said. “I’m not the smartest guy in the room but it’s not that complicated, OK? How’s fossil fuels going to compete in the next five years? They’re not going to be able to compete,” he tells The Guardian. “We were on the frontier of the fossil fuel business, oil and gas,” Ross says. “And now Texas again is on the frontier of the new energy that’s going to be the future.”

Back in Lancaster, city manager Bozigian also emphasizes economics over politics. “Mayor Parris says that the mistake that advocates make is to make it a politicized issue, which means everyone looks at it through a political prism. This is an issue that’s more important than that. It’s common sense.”

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Lancaster (California) Is “Solar Power Capital Of The Universe”, by Steve Hanley, CleanTechnica, October 16, 2017.

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City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris Calls On ASES 2017 Solar Conference Attendees to ‘Take Back their Power’

Mayor Joined on Denver Stage by Senior Officials of BYD, KB Home, and sPower

Lancaster, CA. October 16, 2017 – Last Tuesday, City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris urged attendees of the ASES 2017 Solar Conference in Denver, Colorado, to ‘take back their power’ within their respective municipalities. Mayor Parris was joined on stage by Stella Li, BYD America President; Tom DiPrima, The Chadmar Group; Ryan Creamer, sPower CEO; Jason Caudle, City of Lancaster Deputy City Manager; and Mark V. Bozigian, City of Lancaster Mayor.

The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) designed this annual conference to bring the solar industry’s best and brightest minds together, in an effort to drive progress and affect change throughout the solar energy landscape of the nation. Mayor Parris highlighted the City of Lancaster’s many alternative energy successes, which he attributes to ‘taking back our power’ — with the assistance of strong public/private partnerships.

“Our City’s ongoing journey to becoming one of the first Zero Net Energy communities in the world primarily stems from not being afraid to say ‘yes’ to all the amazing possibilities – as well as the wonderful benefits that come along with creating a more sustainable, renewable city,” said Mayor Parris. “The greatest part of all, is that these partners on stage with me have not been fearful of saying ‘yes’ either.”

Currently serving his fourth term, and ninth year as Mayor of Lancaster, Mayor Parris has led the City of Lancaster on a path toward a more sustainable future. Much of this path has been paved with valuable partnerships, which have become the cornerstone of the community’s alternative energy story.

“Our success, is in large part due to the strength and willingness of our partners to jump in feet first, in order to preserve the planet for our future generations. It’s truly been a beautiful experience,” said Mayor Parris.

The expansion of solar energy throughout Lancaster can be attributed in large part to sPower, who’s partnership with the City of Lancaster has helped bridge the gap between private solar development and public utility services. sPower also serves as a solar energy provider to Lancaster Choice Energy, the City’s municipal electric power utility.

“sPower and the City of Lancaster have established and maintained a mutually beneficial partnership, thanks to the like-mindedness of our company and Mayor Parris,” said sPower CEO Ryan Creamer. “I hope that through events such as this, other municipal leaders will become more confident in their choice to fight for a more sustainable future – and look to the City of Lancaster as an example.”

With KB Home, the City of Lancaster was able to actualize the first affordable Net Zero residential community including solar powered homes, with: electric vehicle charging; battery storage; and even energy efficient roofing materials.

“Watching the first Net Zero community come to fruition was truly an amazing experience. It is proof positive that local governments can in fact make a difference,” said Tom DiPrima of The Chadmar Group. “I cannot wait to see all the new ways the City of Lancaster will continue to set the bar for alternative energy standards. It is my sincerest hope that other cities, states, and the nation will follow suit.”

The City’s ongoing partnership with China-based electric vehicle manufacturer, Build Your Dreams (BYD), has resulted in a number of alternative energy initiatives, which have improved the economy of the entire Antelope Valley region. Just last week, BYD opened its new expansion of its Lancaster-based North American electric vehicle manufacturing facility, with the promise of hundreds of new jobs coming to Lancaster.

“Having now worked with Mayor Parris and the City of Lancaster for a number of years, I have found that when we work together great things happen,” said BYD America President Stella Li. “The best ideas are generated in groups, and partnering with the City of Lancaster has provided some of the most intelligent, and innovative idea generation I’ve encountered. I look forward to many more years of working together for a much brighter tomorrow.”

As a result of these many successful initiatives, Mayor Parris and the City of Lancaster are often looked to for consultation regarding the implementation of alternative energy initiatives. Mayor Parris had much to share with the Solar Conference 2017 attendees, regarding changes that can be immediately implemented at the local level. The audience greeted his words with interest, and hope for a more sustainable future.

“In order to fully ‘take back your power,’ communities such as yours need to first recognize that the largest, most visible changes take place at the local level – not at the state or national level,” said Mayor Parris to the crowd. “Local municipalities can quickly develop public/private partnerships – and in turn enable huge change.”

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.

State Senate Designates City of Lancaster as an Alternative Energy Research Center of Excellence for the State of California

Senate Resolution 62, Introduced by Senator Scott Wilk, Recognizes the City of Lancaster’s many Successful Alternative Energy and Climate Change Initiatives

Today, the California State Senate passed a resolution recognizing the City of Lancaster’s many successful Alternative Energy and Climate Change initiatives. Senate Resolution 62, introduced by Senator Scott Wilk (R – Antelope Valley), passed by a vote of 36-0; designating the City of Lancaster as an Alternative Energy Research Center of Excellence for the state of California.

“It is with great honor and humility that we receive this prestigious designation,” said City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We look forward to continuing to implement many more innovative projects, in order to live up to the very high expectations which accompany such a designation.”

Senate Resolution 62 highlights the City of Lancaster for establishing itself as a global leader in implementing partnerships and initiatives, in order to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change; as well as for being recognized and honored regionally, nationally and internationally as an exemplary municipal leader in the field of alternative energy.

In 2015, the City of Lancaster became the first municipality in Southern California Edison territory to form a Community Choice Aggregator, as well as its own utility service provider, Lancaster Choice Energy. More recently, the City proactively formed a hybrid joint powers authority, the California Choice Energy Authority; so that it could more easily assist other municipalities in achieving their own Community Choice Aggregation goals — such as, ‘taking back the power’ by gaining local control of their energy rates.

“Senate Resolution 62 recognizes the City of Lancaster for its innovative and revolutionary efforts to implement alternative energy initiatives and projects,” said Senator Wilk.

“Policymakers throughout the state recognize and commend Lancaster for its advancements in the field of alternative energy.”
Due in large part to these innovative efforts, in 2013, Lancaster was able to become home to the North American production plant of world-renowned electric vehicle manufacturer Build Your Dreams (BYD). The plant has already resulted in hundreds of well-paying production, engineering and management jobs in the Antelope Valley region. In addition, the company is expected to soon expand operations within an upcoming large-scale expansion of the plant.

The City of Lancaster has also been working closely with its local Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) in order to ensure North Los Angeles County will soon be home to the nation’s first 100% electric bus fleet. In fact, just last week, the Lancaster-based BYD plant delivered the first all-electric articulated bus to be added to AVTA’s growing electric fleet. The bus has already carried hundreds of north county residents to and from work, school, and other destinations.

“I strongly feel that in order for cities to succeed within this increasingly competitive world marketplace, it is imperative that we at the national, state and local levels work together to assure we are providing as business-friendly an environment as possible,” added Mayor Parris. “Senator Wilk and I will continue to work closely together to ensure Lancaster remains a leader in these endeavors. It is only through such partnerships that we can secure a safe and prosperous future for our residents. I’m excited about all of the future initiatives we will work on together, along with the state of California, to advance our nation’s goals.”

City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris Delivers Keynote Speech at Annual Net Zero Conference

Lancaster, CA. August 28, 2017 – City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris delivered the keynote address at the Net Zero 2017 Conference last Thursday afternoon. Organized by Verdical Group, a leading green building consulting firm, and held at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ IBEW/NECA Net Zero Plus Facility in Commerce, California, the annual conference is the nation’s largest event dedicated to net zero building design.

“If we truly want to ensure a clean energy world for the generations to come, it is up to those of us at the local level to implement change,” said City of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “As a municipality, we had to step up and help our community take back the power. Now, the City of Lancaster has far exceeded what anyone believed it was capable of as a local government entity, becoming the Alternative Energy Capital of the World in a relatively short period of time.”

Positioning Lancaster as a world leader in climate change, over the past eight years Mayor Parris has boldly led the City’s charge toward sustainability – on a mission to make Lancaster one of the first zero net energy cities. The City has accomplished a number of unprecedented “firsts” in the sustainability sphere, including: becoming the first City in the nation to make residential solar mandatory and being the first city in California to mandate Zero Net Energy standards for new homes. Lancaster is also the first city in Southern California Edison territory to break away and forge its own Community Choice Aggregator (or CCA) and energy utility (Lancaster Choice Energy), as well as purchasing nearly 19,000 of its streetlights from SCE in order to convert them to energy-efficient LEDs.

Not only will Lancaster soon be Zero Net Energy, the City will also be home to the first 100% all-electric public transit bus fleet in North America, expected to be completed in 2018. In addition, the Build Your Dreams (BYD) electric bus manufacturing facility located in Lancaster is expanding – tripling its production capacity and creating hundreds of local jobs.

Due to the success of these many initiatives, Mayor Parris has become a sought out speaker on sustainability, both nationally and internationally, with the City taking on a mentorship role for a number of other municipalities. As such, Mayor Parris had much to share with the hundreds of Net Zero 2017 Conference attendees regarding climate change on a local level. The audience was enthusiastic, as the positive impact of expanding sustainability efforts was outlined and emphasized as a key influencer of Lancaster’s growing job market and strengthening local economy.

“Mitigating climate change at the local level gives us the power to create public-private partnerships and generate hundreds of local jobs in the process,” said Mayor Parris. “Working toward sustainability is not only the right thing to do – it just makes sense on so many levels.”

Lancaster Unveils ebee EV Chargers on Lancaster BLVD

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Lancaster Gets Charging Stations

“Lancaster has paired up with a German company to provide electric vehicle charging stations at the base of five streetlights in the downtown area.

The charging units made by Ebee Smart Technologies GmbH in Berlin have been installed throughout Europe.

A grant from the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District covers 80 percent of the cost of installation, operations and maintenance costs as well as five years of data collection. The balance is being picked up by private-sector sponsors, including Eluminocity in Munich, the company that makes the outer housing of the charging units. The cost, if any, to users was not specified.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said the city was excited about the venture with Ebee.

“The city of Lancaster is at the forefront of alternative energy developments because of our commitment to progress through innovation and collaboration,” Parris said in a prepared statement.”

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Article written by Mark Madler from the San Fernando Business Journal

June 26, 2017

City of Lancaster, CA Partners with ebee Smart Technologies to Launch BLVD Streetlight Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Today marks the launch of the City of Lancaster’s BLVD Streetlight Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging demonstration, a cutting-edge project which seamlessly integrates EV chargers into five streetlights along the City’s popular central downtown destination, The BLVD. These charging units are made by ebee Smart Technologies, whose innovative controller technology makes installing public and semi-public charging cheaper, faster, and more flexible by incorporating charging units into existing infrastructure, such as streetlights. Already a market leader in Europe, with approximately 10,000 controllers installed in EV charging units throughout the European Union (EU), ebee Smart Technologies holds a key to accelerating advanced clean transportation in California, as well as internationally.

“We bring knowledge from decades in the international automotive industry and have applied it to make installing state-of-the-art EV charging technology simpler and more cost-effective for cities and workplaces,” said ebee Smart Technology CEO Dr. Henning Heppner, who traveled from Berlin, Germany for the ceremony. “We’re excited to bring our solutions to North America and to partner with the City of Lancaster on realizing their vision for a more sustainable community.”

Lancaster’s BLVD Streetlight EV Charging demonstration project is a collaboration engaging local and regional government with private enterprise. A grant from the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District (AVAQMD) will cover 80% of the total project cost, which includes installation, operations and maintenance, as well as five years of data collection. The remaining 20% will be covered by private sponsors, which include ebee Smart Technologies’ partners, EasyCharge and eluminocity, the company which created the outer housing of the charging units.

The project host is the City of Lancaster, CA – a natural home for this zero emissions transportation infrastructure demonstration, given the City’s strong and far-reaching commitment to advancing clean energy solutions.

“The City of Lancaster’s sustainability platform thrives on integrating new technologies – that are not only leading the way for sustainable industry advancement, but also offering affordable options, such as these charging units which can be utilized by nearly any infrastructure base for the benefit of many. Our goal is to not only better our environment, but to increase the overall quality of life for our residents,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “I am continuously astonished by all of the wonderful ideas coming to fruition and making ‘greener’ living tangible for communities around the globe. There are no more excuses for not transitioning to clean energy resources.”

“As municipal leaders, we understand and embrace the value of public-private partnerships, both domestically and abroad,” concluded Mayor Parris. “The City of Lancaster is at the forefront of alternative energy developments because of our commitment to progress through innovation and collaboration. This is evidenced by our many successes with companies such as BYD and KB Home. We could not be more excited about this new venture with ebee Smart Technologies, and are looking forward to the ongoing deployment of EV charging stations throughout our City.”