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Lancaster has established a notable footprint in the alternative energy arena. In frequent reference as being a “city of firsts,” the City Council recently introduced its Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Home Ordinance which mandates all builders install a solar system equal to two watts per square foot for each home built.

“The city of Lancaster has always prided itself on being a city of firsts, and we continue to do so as we pave the way in the sustainable energy sphere,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “The Zero Energy Home Ordinance expands upon Lancaster’s residential solar ordinance so that new homes built in Lancaster now will not only be environmentally friendly, but have a zero net impact on our environment, while reducing energy costs for homeowners. This is a great stride in Lancaster’s journey to become a Zero Net City.”

Future builders will have three options available to them in compliance with the Zero Net Energy standard: a solar component, mitigation fees in lieu of a solar component, or a combination of both. Officials contend that each option is designed to benefit the homeowner. If the builder decides to install solar equipment, this will be based on the size of each home constructed or two watts per square foot. If the builder opts to pay a Zero Net Energy mitigation/in lieu fee, this would be equal to $1.40 per square foot of each constructed home. In this instance, the homeowner will receive credits for the new Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) ZNE home rate providing the customer with a 50-percent discount on the energy generation portion of their LCE bill for 20 years.

The third choice is a combination of the previous two options. Instead of the size of the solar installation being determined by the 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 will pay a ZNE mitigation/in lieu fee of $1.40 for the remaining square footage of the home. As with the second option, the homeowner will receive the LCE ZNE home rate (50-percent discount) on their generation rate for the next two decades.

A feasibility study regarding the plan is underway and is expected to be completed in April. After that, the study will be submitted for review to the California Energy Commission.