Growing City Seeks Solar to Lighten the Energy Load
Located in the Antelope Valley, 70 miles north of the City of Los Angeles, Lancaster is the ninth-fastest growing city in the United States and also one of the leading solar cities in California.
Faced with increasing budget constraints and new challenges keeping up with the growth and energy load of the city, Lancaster city officials made the decision to explore solar in 2009. Lancaster had made significant strides in energy conservation through efficiency measures, but saw the opportunity to further reduce pollution and carbon emissions by producing renewable energy. Lancaster Power Authority (LPA) evaluated a number of potential solar partners and decided to move forward with SolarCity to install solar on five city facilities.
Creating a True "Solar City"
Lancaster also saw a larger opportunity to involve the greater community in its renewable energy plans. The city partnered with SolarCity to create the "Solar Lancaster" program to encourage businesses and homeowners to also consider solar. Through the Solar Lancaster program, a unique public-private partnership, the City of Lancaster and SolarCity worked together to simplify the process of going solar by offering financing, custom design, free installation and solar system monitoring. SolarCity can allow businesses and homeowners to buy power at a set rate that is typically lower than their utility cost. SolarCity manages the permitting and rebate paperwork so that local schools and businesses can benefit from the state and federal incentives.
Knocking It Out of the Park
The Solar Lancaster Program has deployed more than 12 MW of clean solar power and has a built a new home field advantage for the local team and the community. The first phase involved solar shade structures in the parking lots of five city-owned sites, including Lancaster City Hall, the Performing Arts Center, City Park and the local minor league baseball stadium. Lancaster's energy savings are estimated at $7 million over the next 15 years for this phase of the project. The second phase involved a residential and business campaign, which is helping more than 130 area homeowners and 10 local businesses go solar. The third phase provides solar to 25 schools in the Lancaster and Eastside School Districts, which serve nearly 18,000 students.