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Lancaster Choice Energy is a locally run, not-for-profit power program created by the city of Lancaster. This clean and modern power provideris available exclusively to those who work and live within Lancaster. 

Lancaster has been at the forefront of creating a new sustainable approach to modern living. The city has been proactive in promoting solar power alternatives, conservation and smart energy consumption. 

With a lofty goal of becoming the nation’s first Net-Zero city, Lancaster is determined to generate more clean energy than it consumes. With several private-sector partners, it has demonstrated how such a goal can be accomplished. The city has established new rules for building more efficient, sustainable structures. Along the way, Lancaster has earned global recognition. 

Just last week, the California State Senate passed a resolution recognizing Lancaster’s many successful Alternative Energy and Climate Change initiatives. Senate Resolution 62, introduced by Senator Scott Wilk (R – Antelope Valley), was passed by a vote of 36-0 and designated the city as an Alternative Energy Research Center of Excellence for the state of California.

“It is with great honor and humility that we receive this prestigious designation,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We look forward to continuing to implement many more innovative projects, in order to live up to the very high expectations which accompany such a designation.”

Senate Resolution 62 highlights the city establishing itself as a global leader in implementing partnerships and initiatives, in order to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change; as well as for being recognized and honored regionally, nationally and internationally as an exemplary municipal leader in the field of alternative energy.

Lancaster has also been working closely with its local Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) in order to ensure North Los Angeles County will soon be home to the nation’s first 100 percent electric bus fleet and recently the city’s BYD plant delivered the first all-electric articulated bus to be added to AVTA’s growing electric fleet. The bus has already carried hundreds of north county residents to and from work, school, and other destinations.

Lancaster Choice Energy (LCE) strives to bring energy decisions closer to home, by giving consumers a far greater say in how we approach power generation, energy conservation and sustainability. 

By investing locally to support the region’s renewable resources and helping to create new good paying, local jobs, Lancaster Choice Energy is not only helping the environment, but the economy as well. 

With Lancaster Choice Energy’s default program, Clear Choice, customers save on average 3 percent of their monthly energy bills with some enjoying as much as 15 percent savings over Southern California Edison’s (SCE) current rates. Unlike SCE, LCE is solely in the business of power generation. As such, LCE searches for the best deals on both conventional and renewable energy sources and offers them exclusively to LCE customers.

“SCE will continue to read your meter, bill you, and process your payment. They will still respond to your requests and handle any power outages. Only the source and price of the electrons flowing to your home will change,” says LCE.

LCE is in business to find the best sources of clean energy at the lowest possible price and procure it for customers. Instead of building its own infrastructure, LCE partnered with SCE to have them deliver greener, more affordable power to the consumers’ doorstep. SCE still maintains the grid and provides users with customer service but there are no duplicate charges because each entity provides unique services.

LCE rates are set annually by the Lancaster City Council, so consumers have a steady, predictable outlook on rates and the satisfaction of working with a local provider, governed by local leaders whose interests are aligned with those consumers.

LCE is committed to providing clean, economical electricity. While the standard product, Clear Choice, offers 35 percent renewable energy, LCE’s Smart Choice rate plan offers customers the option of “opting-up” to 100 percent renewable energy at a nominal price. This is the first time that Lancaster residents have been able to choose cleaner, greener energy.

With Smart Choice, electricity comes from renewable energy sources such as wind. And as the company continues to grow, it will add other types of locally produced power to the mix, such as solar and hydroelectric.

Lancaster began offering power to select local government accounts in May 2015. In October 2015, LCE began broad public enrollment serving over 50,000 customers.

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

Based on REN21’s 2016 report, renewables contributed 19.2 percent to humans’ global energy consumption and 23.7 percent to their generation of electricity in 2014 and 2015, respectively. This energy consumption is divided as 8.9 percent coming from traditional biomass, 4.2 percent as heat energy (modern biomass, geothermal and solar heat), 3.9 percent hydro electricity and 2.2 percent is electricity from wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. Worldwide investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than $286 billion in 2015, with countries like China and the United States heavily investing in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels. Globally, there are an estimated 7.7 million jobs associated with the renewable energy industries, with solar photovoltaics (the conversion of light into electricity) being the largest renewable employer. As of 2015 worldwide, more than half of all new electricity capacity installed was renewable.

Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency is resulting in significant energy security, climate change mitigation, and economic benefits. The results of a recent review of the literature, concluded that as greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters begin to be held liable for damages resulting from GHG emissions resulting in climate change, a high value for liability mitigation would provide powerful incentives for deployment of renewable energy technologies.

What is climate change?

Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather within the context of longer-term average conditions. Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes (produced by living organisms?), variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics  (a scientific theory describing the large-scale motion of seven large plates and the movements of a larger number of smaller plates of the Earth’s lithosphere) and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have been identified as primary causes of ongoing climate change, often referred to as global warming.

Scientists actively work to understand past and future climate by using observations and theoretical models. A climate record—extending deep into the Earth’s past—has been assembled, and continues to be built up, based on geological evidence from borehole temperature profiles, cores removed from deep accumulations of ice, floral and faunal records, glacial and periglacial processes, and records of past sea levels. These data are often used in theoretical approaches to match past climate data, make future projections, and link causes and effects in climate change. All the while, environmental advocates continue to explore the ways that humans can use alternative energy sources to better protect the Earth. Lancaster is one city striving to make this a reality.

Lancaster takes on alternative energy

In taking the solar world by the reigns, Lancaster has 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 to bring its 20-acre 5 MW Sierra SunTower solar project from conception to completion in just 14 months. In August 2009, eSolar held the grand opening of the nation’s only operating solar thermal power tower plant in the United States.

The movement continued in early 2010 when former Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich invited Parris to attend a meeting with China-based technology and manufacturing giant Build Your Dream (BYD), one of the world’s largest suppliers of advanced battery technology. Mayor Parris visited BYD’s Solar Village in Shenzhen, China, where he had the opportunity to witness firsthand the company’s commitment to clean energy. Upon his return to Lancaster, Parris explored ways to utilize BYD’s impressive technology on a residential level. Soon afterward, the City facilitated a partnership with KB Home, one of the nation’s premier homebuilders, and BYD to create a never-before-attempted affordable solar energy housing community. This project came to fruition on July 13, 2010, 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.

In July 2010, 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.

This was one of the most expansive solar community programs ever undertaken and included clients such as Sierra Toyota Car Dealership; Lancaster School District (19 sites); Desert Christian School (three sites); Eastside School District (two sites); Lancaster Business Park; and Lancaster Baptist Church. In addition, five city facilities—the 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 new solar system offsets close to 100 percent of its energy use and will save its owners nearly $50,000 in the first year of operation alone.

Additional city solar partnerships include entering into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and a power purchase agreement (PPA) with US Topco Energy, Inc. This public/private partnership allows for the development and construction of a number of solar energy facilities, with the intent to sell the power generated on a wholesale basis to other utilities.

One of the city’s more recent ventures is an expanded relationship with clean-energy investment firm Beautiful Earth Group. After designating land for future development of a zero-carbon footprint plant within Lancaster, the city and Beautiful Earth decided to up the ante and take a historic step toward making Lancaster one of the first “Net Zero Cities” in the world. This designation establishes Lancaster as a location which produces as much energy from sustainable sources, such as solar energy, as it consumes.

The city has also partnered with leading industry pioneers to aggressively research and implement projects in the areas of hydrokinetic, concentrated photovoltaic, concentrated solar power, as well as first-of-its-kind power transmission in the Antelope Valley.

For its innovative and groundbreaking efforts in the renewable energy platform, the city garnered prestigious recognition from Wolfgang Neumann’s Energy Globe World Award 2012 in Vienna, Austria in September, bringing home to the United States the first place prize in the “Fire” category.

Lancaster continues to aggressively pursue alternative energy solutions in hopes of bettering the current and future environmental and economic conditions of its community, region, country, and the world.