One city's proposed solar mandate

Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, Calif., is taking the government's role in renewable energy to a new level in a bid to make his city "the solar energy capital of the world."

Rooftop solar installations have skyrocketed in recent years thanks largely to government incentives and falling prices. Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, Calif., is taking the government's role to a new level in a bid to make his city "the solar energy capital of the world."

Parris announced during an event last week to celebrate KB Home and SunPower's 1,000th solar installation that Lancaster will establish a law requiring solar be installed on every new single-family home built after January 1, 2014, reported Greentech Media. The law will be added during an update to the city's residential zones municipal code (click on "draft residential zones for a PDF of the proposal").

According to the draft provision, residential homes built on a 7,000-square-foot lot in in new subdivisions must have a minimum 1-kilowatt solar photovoltaic installation.

Technically, every new home won't have to have solar panels as long as the subdivision meets the minimum average, which is the total energy generation capacity in kW divided by the number of units in the subdivision. In other words, a few homes with large solar installations could cover the minimum requirement of the entire subdivision.

Builders can opt to meet the requirement off-site by showing evidence of buying solar energy credits from another solar-generating development located within the city.

Parris, a Republican, expressed confidence that he had the city council votes necessary for approval, despite opposition from the building industry, reported Greentech Media.

This law, if it's approved, won't guarantee panels in every subdivision. Hawaii's state legislature passed a law that went into effect in 2010 mandating solar water heating for all new single-family homes. In the first 11 months of 2010, the state granted hundreds of variances, or exceptions, representing 22.5 percent of the 1,733 building permits issued for single-family homes over the same period, reported the Star-Advertiser.

Photo: SunPower

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com