On Air Grpahic

Community Energy in Lancaster, California [INTERVIEW]

Bill Resnick interviews Kathy Wells who’s been organizing and managing the build out of Lancaster, CA’s public community energy system, which is moving toward zero carbon including transportation. Lancaster is 60 miles NE of L.A., 120,000 folks in the high desert.



Hosted by: Denise Morris
Produced by: KBOO
Air date: Mon, 02/04/2019 – 9:00am to 10:00am
Wind Turbines - Wind turbines near State Route 58 generate electricity for new energy provider Clean Power Alliance. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Here’s how local governments are replacing California’s biggest utilities

Seventy miles north of downtown Los Angeles, where the Mojave Desert gives way to the San Joaquin Valley, three newly built wind turbines stand atop a ridge overlooking State Route 58. Strong gusts emerge from the mountain pass below, making this an especially windy spot in one of the windiest parts of California.

A few new turbines aren’t normally a big deal in the Golden State, which has been building wind farms for decades.

But these particular machines are at the heart of a revolution in California’s energy industry, which for millions of people, homes and businesses could mean an end to buying power from monopoly utilities such as Southern California Edison.

The three wind turbines at the top of the ridge — and three others nearby — recently started generating electricity for Clean Power Alliance, a government-run energy provider that is replacing Edison as the power source for more than 1 million homes and businesses across the Southland. Twenty-nine cities have joined Clean Power Alliance, as have unincorporated areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Residents of those areas will start receiving electricity from Clean Power Alliance in February. Edison will still distribute power over the poles and wires of the electric grid, and the Rosemead utility will send out the bills. But the alliance will buy and sell power, set rates and decide what incentives to provide customers for reducing their consumption or going solar.

Areas served by community choice aggregators

Areas served by community choice aggregators (Los Angeles Times)

Clean Power Alliance launched for a small group of customers last year, rolling out electric service to city governments and 30,000 businesses in parts of Los Angeles County. But next month will serve as the alliance’s grand opening. By the end of February, it will be California’s fifth-largest power provider, after Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

That fact is especially striking given Clean Power Alliance’s start-up-like working conditions. The alliance has 13 employees and is based in a WeWork shared-office space in downtown Los Angeles, with living-room-style lounges and Instagram-worthy neon lights.

“We’re not a bunch of people who were running some other public-sector something or other. We’re bringing a business savvy to this that is really important for our size and our ambition,” said Ted Bardacke, Clean Power Alliance’s executive director and a former infrastructure director for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Clean Power Alliance customers can choose among three electricity rate plans: one with a 36% renewable energy mix that’s slightly cheaper than Edison’s base rate, one with 50% renewables that’s on par with Edison and one with 100% renewables that’s more expensive than Edison. They can also opt out of Clean Power Alliance service and return to Edison at any time.

Local governments across the state have been forming these so-called community choice aggregators, or CCAs, to reduce rates and increase the use of climate-friendly energy sources such as wind and solar.

The CCA push started in the Bay Area a decade ago and more recently spread to Southern California, where efforts are also underway to establish community choice programs in San Diego, Riverside County and other areas.

Community choice providers are different from municipal utilities such as the DWP or Burbank Water and Power. Unlike municipal utilities, they’re not responsible for owning or operating the electric grid. Their role is to buy and sell the electrons that flow through power lines controlled by investor-owned utilities such as Edison.

Advocates say CCAs are an improvement on investor-owned utilities because they shift control from private monopolies to local governments, giving communities the ability to set their own rates, buy as much clean energy as they want and find creative ways to encourage clean energy technologies including rooftop solar, electric cars and microgrids.

There are now 19 community choice programs operating in California, 14 of which have launched in the last two years, according to the Center for Climate Protection, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Wind turbines generate electricity that is transmitted through power lines in California's Tehachapi Wind Resource Area.

Wind turbines generate electricity that is transmitted through power lines in California’s Tehachapi Wind Resource Area. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

What does community choice mean for clean energy?

Although CCAs are an increasingly popular option, the rapid expansion of community choice has caused some renewable energy developers to worry about potential unintended consequences.

California has tripled its use of renewable energy in the last 15 years, in large part by requiring utilities to replace fossil fuels with solar, wind and other renewable power sources. Most of the work has been done by Edison, PG&E and SDG&E, which serve about two-thirds of electricity demand statewide.

In 2017, Edison’s power supply was 32% renewable, PG&E’s was 33% and SDG&E’s was 44%, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

The rise of community choice — and the loss of customers for the monopoly utilities — has fundamentally changed that model. State officials estimate that Edison, PG&E and SDG&E could lose 85% of their energy sales by the mid-2020s. With far fewer customers, they won’t need nearly as much clean electricity to meet the state’s upcoming targets of 60% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% climate-friendly energy by 2045.

Edison already has enough projects under contract or in development to meet the 2030 mandate, said Colin Cushnie, the company’s vice president of energy procurement and management. And with uncertainty over how many Edison customers will ultimately depart for CCAs, it’s not clear if or when the utility will sign more renewable energy contracts, which typically have a life span of 20 to 30 years.

“Since we’re meeting our statutory requirement,” Cushnie said, “we’re taking a hiatus at this point in time.”

Community choice providers are required to meet the state’s renewable energy targets too, and they’ve been picking up some of the slack as the monopoly utilities sign fewer contracts. Overall, CCAs have signed long-term deals for more than 2,000 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity, mostly solar and wind farms.

Clean Power Alliance’s six new wind turbines in Kern County are a small example.

Joshua trees and wind turbines near Mojave, Calif.

Joshua trees and wind turbines near Mojave, Calif. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

“A lot of new steel has gone into the ground thanks to the CCAs,” said Don Vawter, director of origination and development for Terra-Gen, a New York-based energy developer that built the turbines for Clean Power Alliance.

But some renewable energy developers aren’t sure the CCAs can meet the state’s goals over the next few years. They say the newly formed entities don’t have credit ratings or much of a financial history, which can make it difficult to persuade lenders to fund construction of solar and wind farms.

The vast majority of the long-term clean energy contracts signed by CCAs so far have been inked by Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power, the two community choice programs that have been around the longest.

“All the new ones that are being stood up today are struggling to figure out how they can obtain creditworthy status and contract for power,” said Bill Miller, an executive at Anschutz Corp., which has been working to build a huge wind farm in Wyoming and sell the electricity in California. “They can do some near-term, short-term contracts … but to enter into long-term, reliable contracts is very difficult for them.”

Short-term contracts to buy clean electricity from existing projects can help CCAs meet their renewable energy goals for a few years. But in the long run, the state’s next climate change target — reducing carbon emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 — will require huge amounts of new renewable energy capacity to be built.

The Large-Scale Solar Assn., a Sacramento-based trade group, estimated in September that CCAs needed to strike deals for an additional 5,000 megawatts of clean power by 2021 to meet the state’s long-term contracting requirements.

“There’s market uncertainty in terms of who’s going to buy, when are they going to buy,” said Rick Umoff, California director of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Assn., a national trade group. “It’s unclear if the CCAs are even equipped to buy the energy they need to meet the [renewable energy] targets.”

‘You have to figure out a way to get comfortable’

Community choice advocates say those concerns are overblown and don’t reflect the views of most renewable energy developers. They say the CCAs have met or exceeded the state’s clean energy targets so far and will continue to do so.

Nick Chaset, chief executive of East Bay Community Energy in Alameda County and a former chief of staff to California Public Utilities Commission President Michael J. Picker, noted that several of the country’s biggest clean energy developers, including NextEra and EDF, have done deals with CCAs. He said community choice programs have shown banks that customers will pay their bills and are unlikely to opt out of CCA service and return to the investor-owned utilities.

Chaset suggested that renewable energy trade groups skeptical of community choice were behind the times and haven’t caught up with the reality that their members are figuring out how to work with CCAs.

“They’re used to a certain system,” Chaset said, “and they’re struggling with the fact that the system is changing.”

It’s no longer just well-established CCAs that are signing long-term contracts. Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power, which launched in 2017 and 2018, respectively, have entered into three long-term contracts together, including deals with the developers Recurrent Energy and EDF for solar farms paired with battery storage.

The CCAs say those projects are the largest solar-plus-storage facilities ever contracted in California. Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay also signed a contract with Pattern Energy for 200 megawatts of wind power from New Mexico.

There are other examples of CCAs banding together to buy energy. Several CCAs have joined the Lancaster-based California Choice Energy Authority, which has negotiated contracts on behalf of its members.

Clean Power Alliance was able to get its first six wind turbines built because they’re part of a larger wind farm development, with more established buyers committed to buying most of the energy. But now the CCA is evaluating long-term contract offers from more than 50 developers, including proposals for solar, wind and battery storage.

The alliance might not have gotten so many offers a few years ago. But banks and energy companies are coming around on the CCAs, said Matt Langer, Clean Power Alliance’s chief operating officer and a former Edison employee.

“The developers have recognized that if you want to be developing renewable energy in California and the West, then who’s buying? It’s the CCAs,” Langer said. “So you have to figure out a way to get comfortable.”

Article written by Sammy Roth of the Los Angeles Times.  (January 25th, 2019)

Click here for original article. 

Government Shutdown Assistance

Lancaster Choice Energy offers assistance to furloughed federal workers who are also LCE customers.

The City of Lancaster is joining forces with the City of Palmdale to assist residents who are federal government employees during the current federal government shutdown.

Lancaster Choice Energy is offering assistance for furloughed federal workers who are also LCE customers. LCE customers who are furloughed workers or are working without pay will have deferred energy bill payments until 30 days after the shutdown has been lifted.

Call LCE at (661) 723-6084 for more information.

For the full press release and to learn about additional resources, see below.

Cities of Lancaster and Palmdale Join Forces to Assist Federally Employed Local Residents Affected by Federal Government Shutdown

The City of Lancaster is joining forces with the City of Palmdale to assist residents who are federal government employees during the current federal government shutdown.

“Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer and I are committed to the wellbeing of our residents – and are working together to take care of those in our community who are most affected by the government shutdown,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “This is a scary time for many federal employees who already work hard to make ends meet and are now faced with bills to pay and families to feed, and yet no paycheck. Regardless of your political opinion of the shutdown, it’s time for all of us to come together and be responsive to these needs – and help our neighbors and friends through this challenging time.”

To support federal workers in the community who have been furloughed or are working without pay, the Cities of Lancaster and Palmdale are implementing assistance programs, as well as listing all known resources available locally and nationally on their main websites. The two cities share a common landing page, https://goo.gl/R8hb2W, which provides links to their respective listings. These listings will be continuously updated as resources evolve.

“Our local residents are experiencing hardships not of their making and it is lasting much longer than anyone expected,” said Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer. “The City of Palmdale is committed to working with the City of Lancaster to make sure our affected residents have access to City services and other available resources to help them make it through the impacts of the federal government shutdown.”

The City of Lancaster is deferring fees for Lancaster business licensing and parking citations, as well as recreation program registration fees for federal employees during the shutdown. Additionally, the City’s utility company, Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE), will defer federal employee customers’ energy bill payments until 30 days after the shutdown has been lifted. Food assistance is also available via Grace Resources.

The City of Palmdale will also be deferring payment of Palmdale parking citations and recreation program registration fees for federal employees within their jurisdiction. Palmdale’s SAVES food program and the HPRP Rental Assistance Program are additional resources available to Palmdale residents.

For contact information regarding Lancaster and Palmdale specific programs, or to learn about additional non-City resources for affected federal workers, please visit the shared Lancaster-Palmdale assistance page: Government Shutdown Assistance

Lancaster Choice Energy Featured on “Minding Your Business”

Join Lancaster Choice Energy’s Kathy Wells and Lancaster’s Chamber of Commerce in “Minding Your Business,” a local radio show. This week’s episode is all about Lancaster’s booming community choice aggregate, Lancaster Choice Energy!


Air conditioner setting picture

State Approves Lancaster Choice Energy’s Energy Efficiency Program Plan; LCE the First CCA in Southern California to Be Approved

More Than $1 Million in Funding to be Provided for Local Programs to Help Customers Find New Ways to Reduce Energy Use

At the Lancaster City Council meeting on Tuesday night, the City Council accepted funding for Lancaster Choice Energy’s Energy Efficiency Program Plan. Approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on April 26, the three-year plan authorizes nearly 1.2 million in funds from SCE’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio budget to fund local programs to help both residential and small business customers find new ways to lower their energy use and bills. Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) is the first Community Choice Aggregate (CCA) program in Southern California – and in Southern California Edison territory – to receive approval to offer these free energy efficiency programs to its customers.

“Lancaster is known for being a record-setting ‘City of firsts.’ We are pleased to announce that Lancaster Choice Energy is now the first CCA in Southern California to be approved by the CPUC for these innovative programs,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “These new energy efficiency programs will enhance our City’s sustainability efforts, while also helping LCE consumers save money.”

LCE allows customers to reduce their impact on the environment by offering most of its power from renewable resources. An even better way for customers to save the environment and their budgets is by simply using less energy in the first place. This is the goal of LCE’s new Energy Efficiency Plan.

One initiative of the two-pronged Energy Efficiency Plan is the Energy Advisor program, which will offer personalized energy advice for Lancaster homeowners. The Energy Advisor program will provide LCE’s residential customers with free energy surveys, which highlight ways to reduce their power usage. Advisors identify free and low-cost options available to residents, including weatherization, efficiency upgrades, and special financing programs for energy-efficient appliances and equipment.

The second component of the plan is the Small Commercial Direct Install program, which proposes energy efficiency solutions for small businesses in Lancaster. Small business customers will be offered free or low-cost energy efficiency retrofits designed to reduce their overall usage. By installing energy efficient lighting, refrigeration, and controls, a business can often lower the cost of running their business while reducing carbon emissions.

Marin Clean Energy, California’s first CCA, and the San Francisco Bay Regional Energy Network also showed support for LCE’s plan, filing a formal letter with the CPUC calling LCE’s plan “a good model for the rest of the state,” noting that it will add value for local ratepayers.

The new Energy Advisor and Small Commercial Direct Install programs are expected to launch in autumn 2018. For more details on the program, visit www.LancasterChoiceEnergy.com or call (661) 723-6084.

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Community Spotlight: Mayor R. Rex Parris

Lancaster, California might be modest in size (population 160,000) but it’s the city’s visionary efforts in combating climate change and bringing its residents clean energy, that have put it on the map.

Located in the Antelope Valley of the Western Mojave Desert, Lancaster achieved its Net Zero Energy status in 2016 under the enlightened stewardship of the city’s four-time elected leader, Mayor R. Rex Parris.

Mayor Parris has pushed to make all municipal buildings carbon neutral. He’s reduced all carbon-producing elements except for transportation (that’s cars). All the buses in Lancaster are now electric. He brought eSolar’s Sierra SunTower to town, making sure every new home built is solar powered – and affordable. Lancaster is the first city to require solar panels on every house. And he drives a Tesla, which he expects to trade in as Lithium battery technology is replaced by what he sees as better hydrogen power.

“What’s surprising about sustainable energy, it’s cheaper in the long run. Having solar panels is a no brainer. If you’re a home owner and you don’t have solar panels on your house, you really have to look at how you manage your finances.” — Mayor R. Rex Parris

Energy Upgrade California® talked with Mayor Parris about his vision for Lancaster, and the future of the planet:

What is a Net Zero Energy City?

There are various definitions, but for us it means we produce more energy from sun or wind (in our case it’s the sun) than we use. It’s a simple equation, and we passed that milestone several months ago. We convert more kilowatts from the sun than any other place in the continental United States, if not the world.

How did Lancaster get started on the journey to clean energy?

Our goal was to lower our carbon footprint, and to make radical changes with the least disruption possible. We set out to create a template.

In the course of creating the template, other things happened. I set up a meeting with Build Your Dreams (BYD) and KB Homes. I visited China four or five times, because I had an idea that if we took Chinese and American companies, put them together and told them to create something, they’d blow us away. I wanted them to create a Net Zero house that would be off the grid, one that was affordable for the average American home.

Four months later I flipped a switch on that house, which is still there today. The original home owner has never been on the grid, and he was able to buy a much better house for the money.

KB Homes has the 2.0 house, which uses one-third the natural gas, but you can have Net Zero if you want. And it also uses far less water. There are several different versions home buyers can pick from.

What’s surprising about sustainable energy is that it’s cheaper in the long run. Having solar panels is a no-brainer. If you’re a homeowner and you don’t have solar panels on your house, you really have to look at how you manage your finances. If you’re concerned about the planet you should switch to LED lighting today.

What’s coming up next for Lancaster?

I’m hoping that eventually we’ll have a solar field, which will “crack” water to produce hydrogen. And then we’ll have a hydrogen option for people. It’s a complex science, but it’s more energy efficient. Whether or not we have a meaningful, sustainable power system in the country will be determined at the local level.

Mayor Parris doesn’t see any of Lancaster’s clean energy and climate change mandates as heroic measures, but rather as the “only chance my grandchildren have of living a natural lifespan.” “It’s what we need to do in this city and other cities like it,” he states further. “We are certainly now at the stage of the game where we’re fighting for survival. It used to be that if we did certain things we would survive. That’s no longer the case. Now it’s maybe we have a chance of survival if we do these things.”

Article by: Energy Upgrade California
Link to full article: https://www.energyupgradeca.org/energy-heroes/mayor-parris-in-lancaster-ca/

City of Lancaster ZNE Home Ordinance Effective January 1 2018 NR 11-01-17

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 CA Solar Power Plant via sPower 570x382

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.”


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

ASES Solar Conference 2017 Group Photo

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.”

CEC Approves City of Lancaster ZNE Home Ordinance NR 10-12-17 solar home

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.