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Our neighbor to the north, the sun-drenched city of Lancaster in the high desert, has taken the plunge for solar big time, and is in the process of adopting a revision to its Residential Zoning regulations that will require all new single family homes to include a solar power system starting in 2014.
The solar requirement is actually a bit more nuanced, given that a housing project developer only needs to meet an average requirement - so one home in the project might not have solar at all, but the house next door would have twice the average required. The requirement itself is also quite modest given the AC loads common in the desert - just 1.5 kW per unit. (A more appropriate requirement would be closer to 4 kW.)
While the mandate is unusual, having solar-powered homes in the desert certainly is not. In fact, KB Homes just announced completion of their 1,000th solar home in California, of which more than 200 are located in Lancaster.
Part of what is driving attention to the Lancaster solar mandate is that it was spearheaded by the City’s Republican Mayor, R. Rex Parris. Mayor Parris indeed appears to be a colorful fellow - he recently signed on to be Plaintiff’s counsel in a voting rights lawsuit against the neighboring city of Palmdale - but we have never understood the alleged partisan divide over solar. After all, what could possibly be more conservative than reducing the burning of fossil fuels and taking advantage of a free source of power?
In any event, the draft ordinance notes that part of its purpose is to “encourage investment in solar energy on all parcels in the city,” and who could fault that as a goal? To which we say to our northern neighbors - we like the high desert and would be more than happy to help the commercial buildings in Lancaster to go solar! Just give us a call - we’re not that far away!