Customer Testimonial: Grocery Worker Appreciation Program

If you know any local grocery store workers, please share this post with them! The City would like to thank the hard-working grocery store employees for serving on the front lines during COVID-19. A big thank you goes out to Ashley from the Whole Wheatery for her hard work and participation. The Grocery Workers Appreciation Program awards the first 1,000 qualifying grocery workers a reimbursement on their LCE utility bill. Qualified grocery workers include those from traditional supermarkets (Albertsons, Food 4 Less, etc.), superstores carrying fresh or preserved food (Target, Walmart, Costco, etc.), and locally-owned specialty grocery stores such as Ben’s Butcher Block and The Whole Wheatery.Thousands of dollars are still available and the City urges individuals to apply before the deadline on August 31st. https://bit.ly/2ZVHTSf

Posted by City of Lancaster, CA – Government on Friday, July 24, 2020

If you know any local grocery store workers, please share this with them! The City would like to thank the hard-working grocery store employees for serving on the front lines during COVID-19. A big thank you goes out to Ashley from the Whole Wheatery for her hard work and participation.

The Grocery Workers Appreciation Program awards the first 1,000 qualifying grocery workers a reimbursement on their LCE utility bill. Qualified grocery workers include those from traditional supermarkets (Albertsons, Food 4 Less, etc.), superstores carrying fresh or preserved food (Target, Walmart, Costco, etc.), and locally-owned specialty grocery stores such as Ben’s Butcher Block and The Whole Wheatery.

Thousands of dollars are still available and the City urges individuals to apply before the deadline on August 31st.

Thousands of Dollars Still Available as Part of Lancaster Choice Energy’s Grocery Workers Appreciation Program

The City Urges Grocery Workers to Apply for the Utility Bill Rebate as the Deadline Gets Closer

Lancaster, CA. July 22, 2020 – The City of Lancaster launched the Grocery Workers Appreciation Program in recognition of Lancaster’s frontline grocery workers serving the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this program, eligible grocery workers who are customers of Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) will receive a one-time credit of up to $50 on their LCE charges for total funds of $50,000. Thousands of dollars are still available and the City urges individuals to apply before the deadline on August 30th.

It is important for the City to be able to distribute the funds completely to properly thank local grocery workers. “Our community has seen countless heroes step up to serve during this unprecedented crisis,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Undoubtedly, when they selected this career, most grocery workers never anticipated finding themselves on the front lines of a global pandemic. With the Grocery Workers Appreciation Program, we aim to provide a small token of our appreciation for the grocery store employees who diligently provide our community’s essential needs throughout the ongoing public health crisis.”

The first 1,000 qualifying grocery workers will be awarded the reimbursement. Application submissions are being accepted at LancasterChoiceEnergy.com.

Eligible applicants must be in good standing with LCE and provide current proof of employment at a qualifying grocery store. By definition, grocery stores include traditional supermarkets (Albertson’s, Food 4 Less, etc.), superstores carrying fresh or preserved food (Target, Walmart, Costco, etc.), and locally-owned specialty grocery stores such as Ben’s Butcher Block and The Whole Wheatery.

Applicants will be notified of approval within five business days and receive a credit on their next bill. The credit, which is limited to one per household, cannot exceed the amount of the LCE charges on the current monthly bill.

The Grocery Workers Appreciation Program lasts until August 30, 2020, or until funds are exhausted. For questions related to the program, please call (661) 723-6233 or visit LancasterChoiceEnergy.com.

Customer Testimonial: Grocery Worker Appreciation Program

Alvaro Pineda, from Walmart, was able to benefit from Lancaster Choice Energy’s (LCE) Grocery Workers Appreciation Program and save money on his electricity bill. Thank you, Alvaro, for speaking to us about how the program has benefited you.

Thousands of dollars are still up for grabs through the LCE program! Tag anyone you know who is a grocery worker in Lancaster. We want to thank them for their hard work on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The City of Lancaster admires the community coming together as we continue on the road to recovery,” said Mayor Parris. “To all grocery workers and other everyday heroes on the frontlines: thank you. We deeply value what you do for the community.”⁠

The Grocery Workers Appreciation Program awards the first 1,000 qualifying grocery workers a reimbursement on their LCE utility bill. Application submissions are still being accepted at www.lancasterchoiceenergy.com/grocery-workers-appreciation…/.

The Whole Wheatery Walmart Lancaster – Valley Central Way Albertsons Food 4 Less ALDI USA Superior Grocers Stater Bros. Markets Ben’s Butcher Block and other grocers, have your employees apply for reimbursement before August 30th! For questions related to the program, please call (661) 723-6233 or visit LancasterChoiceEnergy.com.

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Grocery Workers Appreciation Program Launch

Lancaster, CA. June 15, 2020 — The City of Lancaster has launched the Grocery Workers Appreciation Program in recognition of Lancaster’s frontline grocery workers serving the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this program, eligible grocery workers who are customers of Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) will receive a one-time credit of up to $50 on their LCE charges.

“Our community has seen countless heroes step up to serve during this unprecedented crisis,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Undoubtedly, when they selected this career, most grocery workers never anticipated finding themselves on the front lines of a global pandemic. With the Grocery Workers Appreciation Program, we aim to provide a small token of our appreciation for the grocery store employees who diligently provide our community’s essential needs throughout the ongoing public health crisis.”

The first 1,000 qualifying grocery workers will be awarded the reimbursement. Application submissions are now being accepted at https://www.lancasterchoiceenergy.com/grocery-workers-appreciation-program/.

Eligible applicants must be in good standing with LCE and provide current proof of employment at a qualifying grocery store. By definition, grocery stores include traditional supermarkets (Albertson’s, Food 4 Less, etc.), superstores carrying fresh or preserved food (Target, Walmart, Costco, etc.), and locally-owned specialty grocery stores such as Ben’s Butcher Block and The Whole Wheatery.

Applicants will be notified of approval within five business days and receive a credit on their next bill. The credit, which is limited to one per household, cannot exceed the amount of the LCE charges on the current monthly bill.

The Grocery Workers Appreciation Program lasts until August 30, 2020, or until funds are exhausted. For questions related to the program, please call (661) 723-6233 or visit LancasterChoiceEnergy.com.

“The City of Lancaster admires the community coming together as we continue on the road to recovery,” said Parris. “To all grocery workers and other everyday heroes on the frontlines: thank you. We deeply value what you do for the community.”

Lancaster Choice Energy’s Final Phase of Energy Efficiency Program for Small Businesses Currently Underway

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Post Date:05/01/2020 4:30 PM
Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) is again offering local businesses free energy-efficient equipment, which helps lower energy usage and costs, through its Small Commercial Direct Install Program. Currently in its third and final phase, the program will be available until funds are exhausted.

“LCE’s Direct Install Program has already helped 138 local businesses save almost two million kilowatt-hours of energy,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “This program is a huge opportunity for small, locally owned businesses to save money while reducing their carbon footprint. It is a testament to our success in creating programs that benefit those who live and do business in Lancaster.”

The program provides free, energy-efficient equipment such as LED lights and occupancy sensors to qualifying businesses with a peak electric demand of 200 kilowatts or less each month. Installation is complimentary.

To participate, businesses must contact FESS Energy Solutions, LCE’s partner and energy efficiency expert, who will then contact businesses to schedule an appointment to evaluate their facility and recommend improvements. Once the business approves the recommendations, FESS will schedule installation at a convenient time. Businesses can remain open during installation.

FESS Energy Solutions recommend may include LED lights, including cooler display lights and pool lights, occupancy sensors, refrigeration strip curtains and/or door closers.

“Energy costs have a direct impact on a business bottom line,” continued Mayor Parris. “By taking advantage of this program and using more energy efficient equipment, local businesses are going to use less energy, reduce carbon footprints, and decrease energy costs.”

To learn more about the Lancaster Choice Energy Direct Install Program and get started, please visit LancasterChoiceEnergy.com or call 626-308-3000.

CPUC Statement on COVID-19

The California Public Utilities Commission released the following statement regarding their response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. We ask that you share this information with your communities via social channels, newsletter inserts, and any offline engagement that you still may be participating in. The Energy Upgrade California team hopes that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during this challenging time.

Download and view the full press release 
here.
CPUC WORKS TO HELP MITIGATE HIGHER ENERGY BILLS UTILITY CUSTOMERS MAY RECEIVE DUE TO SHELTER AT HOME
SAN FRANCISCO, April 2, 2020 – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today announced actions it is taking to accelerate the use of its programs to help reduce the impact of anticipated higher energy bills due to many Californians staying at home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As Californians are practicing safe procedures and following the public health guidelines and Governor Newsom’s Executive Order by sheltering at home, it is likely that residential electric and natural gas usage will greatly increase, leading to higher utility bills,” said CPUC President Marybel Batjer. “Residential electric usage has increased 15 to 20 percent in recent weeks compared to the same period last year. The CPUC is taking action to ensure that this does not become an added hardship for people who have lost their jobs or are otherwise suffering economically due to COVID-19.”

The CPUC is seeking to accelerate the use of two current programs to reduce energy bills in April, May, and June, and will issue proposals to change how residential bills are calculated to reduce energy bills throughout the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis. The CPUC would approve the final changes in a May Voting Meeting to help reduce the impacts of bills in June, July, and August.


The immediate actions taken by the CPUC include:
  1. Using the California Climate Credit to Reduce April Energy Bills: The Climate Credit is generated from a state program that requires power plants, natural gas providers, and other large industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy carbon pollution permits. The credit is a consumer’s share of the payments from the program. The credit is usually provided on customer bills twice a year. The first for 2020 will be applied to April bills to help offset higher bills due to increased usage and will vary from $20 to $60 depending on the utility. Further, the CPUC has issued a proposal for comment (proceeding number R.11-03-012) that would accelerate the second Climate Credit so it would be available to consumers in May and June, which are likely to also be high usage months, rather than later in the year. Historically, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Company residential customers would have received the Climate Credit in April and October. Under the proposal issued today, available at https://bit.ly/2X3NzZd, residential customers would still receive the first credit in April but would now receive the second credit in two installments – in May and June. The proposal will be on the CPUC’s April 16, 2020, Voting Meeting agenda. The public can comment on the proposal at https://bit.ly/2wW67zW. Parties to the proceeding have five days to file comments. San Diego Gas & Electric’s Climate Credit for electric usage is already scheduled to appear on July and August bills and its natural gas Climate Credit will appear on April bills.
  2. Ensuring Full Access to the CARE Rate Discount Program: The California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program provides a 20 to 35 percent discount on utility bills. Many people who have recently lost their job due to COVID-19 will be eligible for the program. Customers just have to call their utility and ask to be enrolled. Information on participating in the program, including monthly income limits, can be found on the CPUC’s website at [www.cpuc.ca.gov/General.aspx?id=976]www.cpuc.ca.gov/General.aspx?id=976.
“Californians who are sheltering in place, many of whom are working from home, conducting school at home, and caring for children from home, are using more electricity than normal, and likely will face higher energy bills as a result. The Climate Credit proposal we issued today allows us to take a no-cost step to alleviate some of the financial impact to customers,” said Commissioner Liane M. Randolph, the assigned Commissioner to the proceeding that sets the Climate Credit.

“This crisis is a stark reminder that we all need basic utilities, especially when we fall on hard times, and the CPUC is doing all it can to protect that. It is also a time to remind ourselves of the importance of conservation practices in reducing our bills,” said Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves.


The cheapest megawatt is the one not used. Consumers can reduce their bill impacts by taking some easy steps to conserve energy: turn down the thermostat, keep televisions and monitors on “eco mode,” unplug devices that are not in use, open blinds/curtains on sunny days to avoid using too many lights, and wait to use the dishwasher until it is full.


“In these unprecedented times, millions of ratepayers across the state will likely face higher energy bills from sheltering in place. We take seriously our responsibility to reduce this financial burden, especially for our most vulnerable populations,” said Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen.


“We know many are facing income challenges. In addition to the Climate Credit there are resources that can reduce energy bills, including the low income CARE program, which provides up to a 35 percent bill discount, the Family Electric Rate Assistance program, which provides an 18 percent discount, and making simple changes in home energy use,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma.


For information on additional customer assistance programs, please visit 
[www.cpuc.ca.gov/assistanceplans]www.cpuc.ca.gov/assistanceplans.

During this unprecedented pandemic the CPUC will continue to maintain public safety, ensure customer protections, oversee essential mitigation planning for the upcoming wildfire season, and perform all statutory functions using its full regulatory authority in a way that protects its valued workforce.


In response to the impacts of COVID-19, the CPUC is continuing to identify opportunities to help ensure that utility customers in California receive safe, reliable, and affordable utility services they need now more than ever. Steps the CPUC has taken thus far includes:
  • Moratorium on Utility Disconnections: Ordered all CPUC-regulated energy, water, sewer, and communications providers to halt customer disconnections for non-payment. Utilities must also restore service to those whose service was disconnected prior to the CPUC’s March 17, 2020 order.
  • Suspended Renewal Requirements: Ensured continued affordable access to communications and energy services by suspending renewal requirements for the low income programs CARE and the Family Electric Rate Assistance programs.
  • Protecting Contractors: Ensured that large investor-owned utilities help ensure the economic stability of the large contractor workforce that provides energy efficiency upgrades to low income Californians.
  • Reliable Broadband: Asked the largest wireless and Internet service providers to consider temporarily suspending data caps and data coverage charges if they have not already done so.
Read more about these actions and other steps the CPUC is taking to ensure utilities under its jurisdiction are supporting communities during these challenging times by visiting [www.cpuc.ca.gov/covid]www.cpuc.ca.gov/covid.

For a list of consumer protection provisions utilities are enacting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit 
[www.cpuc.ca.gov/covid19protections]www.cpuc.ca.gov/covid19protections.

The CPUC regulates services and utilities, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. For more information on the CPUC, please visit 
[www.cpuc.ca.gov]www.cpuc.ca.gov.
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Lancaster Choice Energy Program Helps More Than 130 Small Businesses Save Money, Save Energy

Post Date:02/06/2020 3:28 PM

Changing LED LightbulbThe first phase of Lancaster Choice Energy’s (LCE) Small Commercial Direct Install program is off to a great start, helping 138 local businesses save almost 2 million kilowatt-hours of energy.

“As a local community choice aggregator, LCE enables us to reinvest in our community,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “The opportunity to provide money-saving programs such as these to locally owned, mom-and-pop businesses, as well as local residents, is a big part of why Lancaster chose to establish its own CCA – in addition to creating a more sustainable environment for generations of residents to come. We are proud to offer this no-cost program to support our small local businesses. Not only will businesses use less energy and reduce their carbon footprint with the installation of energy efficiency measures, they will also realize a decrease in energy costs.”

In April 2019, LCE launched its Small Commercial Direct Install Program. This program, funded with $1.2 million from Southern California Edison at the instruction of the California Public Utilities Commission, offers local businesses free energy efficiency consultations and equipment upgrades and installations.

The first two phases of the program provided 12,456 installations of measures that will save the participating businesses a total of 1,853,170 kilowatt-hours over the lifecycle of the elements. These installations will help businesses significantly lower their electricity bills and operate more sustainably.

“Our energy costs have gone down about 50 percent since Lancaster Choice Energy installed the new energy-efficient LED lights,” said Crazy Otto’s Diner Co-Owner Joe Acosta. “The brighter lighting from the new LED lights has also increased nighttime visibility in our diner’s parking lot.”

The Direct Install Program, a component of LCE’s Energy Efficiency Program Plan, offers local businesses free energy-efficiency equipment including LED lights, solar film and occupancy sensors. LCE has engaged FESS Energy Solutions to evaluate local business facilities and identify energy-saving opportunities. Upon business approval, FESS provides equipment installation at no cost.

“As a small business, it’s important to save money wherever you can, so I was really happy when the Direct Install Program was announced,” said The Mercantile owner Janet DePreter. “I’ve been tracking my energy bill and we’re already saving between $125 and $200 per month. Not only do we save on energy costs, but these lights are brighter and don’t create as much heat like the old fluorescent bulbs.”

While funds for the current phase have been exhausted, the Small Commercial Direct Install Program will be available again in a few weeks when the next phase launches. To learn more, please visit LancasterChoiceEnergy.com or call 626-308-3000.

Going all-electric

  • Updated 
Lancaster residents Salvador Cornejo (left) and Matt Morlee show off the hybrid and all-electric vehicles they purchased through Lancaster Choice Energy’s Ready, Set, Charge! electric vehicle incentive program and with other rebates and tax credits.

LANCASTER — Lancaster resident Matt Morlee wanted a full battery-electric vehicle with good range. The Chevy Bolt EV met those requirements.

He saved thousands of dollars on the cost of the car through Lancaster Choice Energy’s Ready, Set, Charge! electric vehicle incentive program.

Current qualified LCE customers can receive a voucher valued up to $3,000 in instant savings off the purchase of a new all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, or $1,500 off a lease from a list of qualifying vehicles at participating dealerships. He also qualified for other rebates and tax credits.

 

“This was a home run,” Morlee said.

He had a battery-electric car previously. He leased an electric vehicle in 2016. He returned the car in January of this year.

“I’ve kind of been toying with the idea of getting another one because I enjoyed it,” Morlee said.

His previous electric vehicle had a 90-mile range. The Bolt EV has a 250-mile range.

“I’ve actually gotten 275 miles on a charge,” Morlee said. “I drove it to San Luis Obispo.”

He no longer suffers from “range anxiety” — the fear that a battery-electric vehicle has insufficient range to reach its destination and could strand its occupants. Part of that has to do with the Bolt’s increased range over his previous vehicle. There are also more places to charge the car’s battery.

“There’s so many chargers out there the infrastructure is pretty good,” Morlee said.

Many of those chargers are also free, he added.

“Basically, it costs me about five bucks to charge the Bolt — that’s 250 miles,” Morlee said. “That’s basically a gallon of gas so the economy is very impressive.”

He was one of the first LCE customers to take advantage of the Ready, Set, Charge! program. The program’s goal is to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles to help reduce local gas emissions.

In combination with local support from the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District, participating Lancaster Auto Mall dealers and Antelope Valley Harley-Davidson, qualified LCE customers have the opportunity to claim up to $17,000 in instant savings, rebates and tax credits.

The AV Air Quality Management District is offering up to $1,000 to Ready, Set, Charge! participants. Qualified low-moderate income participants will receive an additional $1,500. Southern California Edison is offering up to a $1,000 rebate through its Clean Fuel reward program.

In addition to the local incentives from Lancaster Choice Energy and AV Air Quality Management District, up to $11,000 can be claimed in local and state incentive programs. Federal tax credits may also apply and vary by make and model. Details are available from each dealer.

The Bolt’s window sticker was $37,000. With the LCE instant savings and other rebates and tax credits Morlee paid about $17,000 out the door.

“I had to buy it, it would be silly not to,” he said.

Morlee bought the Bolt EV from Antelope Valley Chevrolet.

Qualifying vehicles for the Ready, Set, Charge! program include the Toyota Prius Prime, Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid. There is even an electric vehicle for motorcycle enthusiasts, the Harley-Davidson LIVEWIRE.

In addition to AV Chevrolet, the participating dealers are Toyota of Lancaster, H.W. Hunter, Antelope Valley Subaru, Honda Lancaster and Antelope Valley Harley-Davidson.

Lancaster resident Salvador Cornejo bought a Toyota Prius Prime from Toyota of Lancaster.

“I had looked but it wasn’t really serious,” he said of buying a hybrid vehicle.

But Cornejo could not pass on the incentives through the Ready, Set, Charge! program.

Cornejo is expecting several thousands dollars to come back to him after he submits his paperwork. He gets about 55 miles per gallon on his Prius. The car has other features that he likes.

“It has adaptive cruise control where you don’t have to speed up or slow down on the freeway, it does it for you,” he said.

Lancaster Choice Energy has about $200,000 in vouchers remaining through the Ready, Set, Charge! program. The program runs through Dec. 31, or whenever funds are exhausted.

“There’s still plenty,” Ready, Set, Charge! Projects Coordinator Alice Ferrin said.

In the City of Lancaster, people who own a battery-electric vehicle can charge their cars at City Hall, where the first two hours are free. The BLVD charging stations are free, with no time limit. In addition, approximately six charging stations are in the process of being installed at Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park.

LCE customers must apply for a voucher online or visit the utility’s office at Lancaster City Hall, 44933 Fern Ave. The purchase or lease of a qualifying new all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle from a participating dealer is required.

For details visit LancasterChoiceEnergy.com or call 661-723-6084.

Ready, Set, Charge!

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris (center, front), Vice Mayor Marvin Crist (center, rear), join Lancaster Choice Energy and Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District officials and participating Lancaster Auto Mall dealers for the launch of the Ready, Set, Charge! program Monday at Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park.

 

By JULIE DRAKE Valley Press Staff Writer

 

LANCASTER —  “I don’t know of another city in the world, where, if you want an electric vehicle, come get one,” Mayor R. Rex Parris said as Lancaster Choice Energy launched its first Ready, Set, Charge! electric vehicle incentive program Monday morning.

The program is designed to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles while helping reduce local gas emissions. In combination with local support from the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District, participating Lancaster Auto Mall dealers and Antelope Valley Harley-Davidson, qualified customers have the opportunity to claim up to $17,000 in instant savings, rebates and tax credits.

Lancaster Choice Energy is offering up to $250,000 in vouchers through the Ready, Set, Charge! program. Current qualified LCE customers will receive a voucher valued up to $3,000 in instant savings off the purchase of a new all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, or $1,500 off a lease from a list of qualifying vehicles at participating dealerships. The AV Air Quality District will also offer $1,000 to Ready, Set, Charge! participants. Qualified low-moderate income participants will receive an additional $1,500.

“I want to remind everyone the AVAQMD is still giving $1,000 to the electric program to all residents, and we’re giving $500 if you buy it out of town,” Vice Mayor Marvin Crist, who also serves as chairman of AV Air Quality Management District’s governing Board, said. “With this incentive from the City we’re putting the money back into the community … and that’s where it belongs.”

In addition to the local incentives from Lancaster Choice Energy and AV Air Quality Management District, up to $11,000 can be claimed in local and state incentive programs. Federal tax credits may also apply and vary by make and model. Details are available from each dealer.

The participating dealers are Toyota of Lancaster, Antelope Valley Chevrolet, H.W. Hunter, Antelope Valley Subaru, Honda Lancaster and Antelope Valley Harley-Davidson.

Qualifying vehicles include the Toyota Prius Prime, Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid. There is even an electric vehicle for motorcycle enthusiasts, the Harley-Davidson LIVEWIRE.

“It’s been great to partner with LCE on a program that is sure to have a profound positive impact on Lancaster and its residents,” Lou Gonzales, owner of Antelope Valley Chevrolet, said. “I’m excited to see even more electric and hybrid Chevys on the road today.”

Lancaster, California – A Choice Location – Featured article in Business View magazine

Lancaster, California solar farm with the city logo above.

Lancaster, California

A choice location

September 12, 2019

Business View Magazine interviews representatives of Lancaster, California, as part of our focus on energy alternatives in American communities.

Lancaster is a charter city in northern Los Angeles County, in the Antelope Valley of the western Mojave Desert in Southern California, just 70 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. It is separated from the Los Angeles Basin by the San Gabriel Mountains to the south and from Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley by the Tehachapi Mountains to the north. The area where Lancaster is now located was originally home to the Paiute Indians. Lancaster’s origins as a settlement start with the Southern Pacific Railroad, which is believed to first use the name Lancaster, where a station house, locomotive watering facilities, and section gang housing were built when the railroad laid track through the town’s future location. In 1876, the Southern Pacific completed the line through the Antelope Valley, linking San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The person credited with formally developing the town is Moses Langley Wicks, who, in 1884, bought property from the railroad for $2.50 per acre, mapped out a town with streets and lots, and advertised 160-acre tracts of land for $6 an acre. By 1890, Lancaster was bustling and booming, and thanks to adequate rainfall, farmers planted and sold thousands of acres of wheat and barley.

The town was devastated by the decade-long drought that began in 1894, killing businesses and driving cattle north, though fortunes improved somewhat in 1898, following the nearby discoveries of gold and borax, the latter to become a widespread industrial chemical and household cleaner. Thanks to the five-year construction of the 233-mile Los Angeles Aqueduct starting in 1908, Lancaster became a boom town by housing aqueduct workers.

The community began a steady growth spurt in the 1930s, starting with construction of Muroc Air Force Base, site of frequent flight tests, including the “breaking” of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager in a Bell X-1A in 1947. The development of Air Force Plant 42 in 1958, augmented in the 1960s by construction of Lockheed Aircraft’s Plant 10, created tens of thousands of jobs with high-wage employment hitting its peak in the 1970s.

Lancaster, California Mayor Parris

Mayor Parris at Jack Nothrop Elementary

Lancaster was an unincorporated community in Los Angeles County until 1977, when it was incorporated as a city. Aerospace is still one of the area’s biggest industries, and Lancaster is now home to major defense contractors such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Virgin Galactic, BAE, and government agencies, such as the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, which are all active in design, testing, and manufacturing of a variety of military and commercial equipment. In addition to aerospace, highlights of Lancaster’s diversified economy include advanced transportation, health care, and manufacturing.

Lancaster’s current population is approximately 170,000 and the city houses approximately 75 percent of workers from nearby Edwards Air Force Base. And, according to the city’s Assistant to the City Manager, Chenin Dow, the number of aerospace workers in the community is expected to grow significantly. “Northrop Grumman is building the new bomber for the Department of Defense here in the Antelope Valley, and they’re in the process of hiring seven to eight thousand people at Northrop alone,” she notes. “Lockheed is also growing.”

Because Lancaster has been, traditionally, a suburban community, its growth pattern in the past has engendered urban sprawl, and Dow says that the city is now looking to rectify that with plans for more infill development. “In terms of infill growth, we’re focusing on a couple of key centrally-located project areas. We’re laying the groundwork with two specific plans to entice the type of development that we want to see.

“One of those areas is Medical Main Street. Anchored by Antelope Valley Hospital, the region’s only full-service hospital, the district is designed to foster wellness. Between grant funding and a local match, the City has set aside $15 million to build backbone infrastructure for the district. This will enable us to establish the framework for multi-modal transit and increased connectivity within the envisioned district, thus allowing for pedestrian and bicycle transit and more active lifestyles.  Within this framework, the plan envisions medical office buildings and specialty care facilities alongside a variety of housing, dining, and entertainment options in a mixed-use urban environment.

“The second specific plan we’re currently focusing on is Parkway Village. As a traditionally suburban community, the vast majority of our housing stock is single-family homes. Yet with companies such as Northrop Grumman, BYD, and Lance Camper continuing to grow, and Millennials and empty-nesters, alike, seeking a greater diversity of housing stock, we’re looking to provide ‘missing middle’ housing – that is, condos, townhomes, and apartments. As with Medical Main Street, the plan aims to lay the foundation for this type of growth in a mixed-use, walkable urban setting with easy access to shopping, dining, entertainment, and transit.

“In addition to the specific plans currently in progress, we continue to densify our downtown area. Known as “The BLVD,” a streetscape transformation in 2010 has catalyzed incredible growth in the downtown district. This includes more than 800 housing units constructed or rehabilitated, over 200,000 square feet of commercial space constructed or rehabilitated, and the attraction of more than 60 new businesses.

All three areas are designated federal Opportunity Zones, where developers can apply for tax credits in return for their investments. There are three other Opportunity Zone Census tracts in the city: two form the Transit Oriented Development Zone, which are located adjacent to the Lancaster Metrolink Station and feature focused development standards to enable and promote high-quality, walkable, mixed-use and transit-oriented projects, immediately adjacent to the heart of downtown Lancaster; and Sierra, located along historic Route 6, also known as Sierra Highway, which offers an eclectic mixture of industrial, commercial, and residential development opportunities.

Lancaster is also the first net-zero city in the nation, and continues to focus on renewable energy initiatives, having entered into numerous, forward-thinking, one-of-a-kind partnerships with leaders in the alternative energy realm. The revolution began with the city working very closely with eSolar in 2009 to bring its 20-acre, 5 MW Sierra SunTower solar project from conception to completion – the first operating solar thermal power tower plant in the United States.

The movement continued in 2010, when the city facilitated a partnership with KB Home, one of the nation’s premier homebuilders, and China-based technology and manufacturing giant, Build Your Dreams (BYD), one of the world’s largest suppliers of advanced battery technology, to create a never-before-attempted affordable solar energy housing community. This project came to fruition with the unveiling of a prototypical, modestly priced, energy-efficient home designed to generate more power than it uses. The grand opening event was held at KB Home’s Alamosa community in West Lancaster. Since that time, two additional communities have followed suit within the city.

The solar journey continued when Lancaster, in partnership with SolarCity, launched the Solar Lancaster program—an affordable solar financing program for homeowners, business owners, and nonprofit organizations. The Solar Lancaster program was designed to simplify the process of going solar by reducing energy bills, offering several financing options, and discounting solar pricing, while providing custom solar system designs and monitoring.

Lancaster, California men working on solar energy reflectors.

This was one of the most expansive solar community programs ever undertaken and included clients such as the Sierra Toyota Car Dealership, the Lancaster School District, Desert Christian School, the Eastside School District, the Lancaster Business Park, and Lancaster Baptist Church. In addition, five City facilities — Lancaster Municipal Stadium, City Hall, and the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, among other sites — are now powered with clean, non-polluting solar energy in a 1.45 megawatt project, which is projected to save the city an estimated $6 million over 15 years. Clear Channel Stadium, home of the Lancaster JetHawks, is the first minor league baseball stadium in the country to go green. Its solar system offsets close to 100 percent of its energy use and saved its owners nearly $50,000 in the first year of operation alone.

Lancaster is also a Community Choice Aggregator (CCA), an alternative to the investor-owned utility energy supply system, in which local entities aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy supply contracts. The CCA chooses the power generation source on behalf of the consumers, and by aggregating purchasing power, it is able to create large contracts with generators – something individual buyers may be unable to do. The main goals of CCAs have been to either lower costs for consumers or to allow consumers greater control of their energy mix, mainly by offering “greener” generation portfolios than local utilities. Once established, CCAs become the default service provider for the power mix delivered to customers, while the incumbent utility continues to own and maintain the transmission and distribution infrastructure, metering, and billing.

“We’re a Community Choice Aggregator, but we’re also a department of the city, so we run a little differently than a lot of the other Community Choice Aggregators in the state in that we serve just our jurisdiction – the residents and businesses of Lancaster,” explains Kathy Wells, the city’s Energy Projects Coordinator for Lancaster Choice Energy. “Most CCAs are part of a joint power authority, so they can be comprised of multiple cities or multiple counties, and they are ever-growing and evolving. As a stand-alone, municipal CCA, we have a finite group of customers. Lancaster was the first CCA in Southern California and also the first to launch in Southern California Edison’s territory. We began serving customers in 2015 and since we’ve launched, we’ve offered a 100-percent renewable energy product, while our base product is 38 percent renewable. We’re also 60-percent carbon-free. Our goal is to eventually meet the state’s goal of being 100-percent carbon-free by 2045.”

“Now that we’ve launched and we serve our customers cleaner, greener energy, we’re looking at what other value we can bring,” Wells continues. “One of the exciting things is that we’ve been supporting the state’s transportation electrification goal. For example, in our city, our Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) is going to be the first all-electric bus fleet in the nation. We’ve already got 41 electric buses on the road and the fleet is slated to completely transition to 83 all-electric buses by the end of this year.

“As the energy provider for the Transit Authority, Lancaster can help incentivize the cost of transitioning to an all-electric bus fleet. We are looking at installing some distributed energy resources to provide for the additional load, because having an all-electric bus fleet is going to use a lot more electricity. One option is designing a solar and battery storage system to put on-site at the bus depot. Once we have that up and going, we’re going to develop a special energy rate for the transit fleet. Through this partnership, Lancaster is supporting AVTA as our energy customer, and AVTA is supporting the city’s electrification efforts.  We’ve also installed, over the past year, 30 public electric vehicle charging stations, available 24/7, and half of them are free for use.

“We are also developing a new incentive program with our local auto dealers, scheduled to launch in September, which will offer cash discounts for purchasing electric vehicles. So, if you’re a Lancaster Energy Choice customer, we’re going to give you a discount voucher and, on top of that, the auto dealers are going to provide their own discount to bring the total purchase cost down. We think that’s going to help incentivize people to adopt electric vehicles. As a department of the City of Lancaster, we have $300,000 set aside to roll out this pilot program. We have modeled this after a program created by a northern California CCA – Sonoma Clean Energy’s ‘Drive Evergreen.’ Sonoma offered an incentive voucher discount and their auto dealers saw the electric vehicle sales increase by 50 percent.

“Another project opportunity we have on tap is through the California Energy Commission. Lancaster was a recipient of the EPIC (Electric Program Investment Charge) Grant for Advanced Energy Community. We successfully completed Phase One in 2018, and we recently received Phase Two funding of $5 million to deploy a designed Advanced Energy Community. The idea of the EPIC grant is to design innovative energy projects and programs that can be easily replicated and rolled out to other communities and cities to move everybody towards a renewable energy future.

“We came up with a few programs and one of them is called The Green District, which is provides battery storage for our commercial customers at no cost to them. In fact, they’ll get incentive payments to be a site host. Lancaster Choice Energy will own and control those batteries that we put on those commercial businesses and all of those batteries can be aggregated into a virtual power plant. The draw for the business customer is savings on their energy, savings on their use from the grid, and reliability to the energy grid, because we can control when those batteries dispatch. It’s also another way we can touch the other side of the bill. As a CCA, we supply the energy but Southern California Edison is the utility that delivers the energy, so they own all the infrastructure, all the wires, all the meters, and they handle the billing. So, when a customer gets a bill, there are two separate charges: the delivery charge from Southern California Edison and the energy supply charge from Lancaster Choice Energy. Right now, we can only control the supply side of the bill, but with batteries, we can help our customers avoid some of the energy demand charges that they see on the delivery side.

“In California, we recently switched our ‘time-of-use’ hours. It used to be really cheap to use energy in the evening and the high prices were during the day, so we tried to get everybody to avoid using energy during the day. It has now flip-flopped – high peak prices are now starting at 4PM, which is when everybody comes home and the solar goes offline. So now, suddenly, you’re going to need more energy and it’s going to cost you more. So, these batteries will kick in and avoid those high peak prices. We’re going to put them on approximately 10 businesses to start; we are planning to install 10 Megawatts of battery storage and five additional Megawatts of solar citywide throughout the course this grant program.

“There’s another reason why we want to do this virtual power plant: by incorporating a software program, we can aggregate all of our city-owned distributed energy resource assets. For example, we have solar on all of our Lancaster School District sites. Lancaster owns that energy and we have a power purchase agreement with the school district; we purchased that energy ahead of time and they pay us back through a fixed-rate contract, so it was a no up-front, out-of-pocket cost to the schools for the installation. There are 25 sites that have solar, and we have city buildings that have solar. We will be putting in battery storage at a minimum of ten businesses citywide. We also have city-owned electric vehicle charging stations that we will incorporate. Having the ability to aggregate that energy, virtually, gives us an opportunity to offset the energy that we buy, which helps the entire community. If we can offset the energy and use our assets, rather than purchasing on the market, we can bring our costs down, and we can bring our prices down – thus keeping our rates low. To my knowledge, it will be the first virtual power plant in operation – which is a major reason why it was included in the CPUC grant. We’re going to see if it works and design it in a way that other communities can replicate in the future.”