A California Town's Quest to Become 'Solar Capital of the World'

Lancaster, California is known for nearby Edwards Air Force Base and being the childhood home of Judy Garland. But that may change thanks a Republican mayor interested in lowering public expenditures, providing jobs, and making a splash.
April 9, 2013, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Felicity Barringer profiles the efforts of Mayor R. Rex Parris, a class-action lawyer, to transform California's 30th largest city into a global leader in solar power.

“'We want to be the first city that produces more electricity from solar energy than we consume on a daily basis,' [Parris] said. This means Lancaster’s rooftops, alfalfa fields and parking lots must be covered with solar panels to generate a total of 126 megawatts of solar power above the 39 megawatts already being generated and the 50 megawatts under construction."

"To that end, Lancaster just did what former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger failed to do in 2006: require that almost all new homes either come equipped with solar panels or be in subdivisions that produce one kilowatt of solar energy per house. He also was able to recruit the home building giant KB Home to implement his vision, despite the industry’s overall resistance to solar power."

“'A lot of what we’re doing appears to be public relations,' the mayor conceded. 'It has that taint to it. But what we’re doing is scalable and portable.' Lancaster is already marketing its power to other municipalities," adds Barringer.

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Published on Monday, April 8, 2013 in The New York Times
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