Lancaster, California has moved beyond requiring solar panels on the rooftops of new houses.
A newly passed city ordinance stipulates that those rooftop arrays meet the energy needs of those homes.
The city started requiring solar on new homes back in 2014, pioneering a policy that has since been adopted by Sebastopol, Santa Monica and San Francisco, and which was introduced into the California State Senate in January.
Lancaster’s “Zero Net Energy” policy, passed last week, mandates that those rooftop arrays contain 2 watts per square foot of real estate.
The idea is that new houses added onto the grid cover their own energy needs for their occupants.
Not every house will be able to support that much solar capacity, so builders also have an option to pay an in-lieu fee of $1.40 per square feet of constructed home, or a combination of solar panels and fee.
The fee option unlocks a 50 percent discount on the generation component of the homeowners’ electricity bill for 20 years.
“The Zero Net 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 the homeowners,” said Republican Mayor R. Rex Parris in a statement.
“This is a great stride in Lancaster’s journey to become a Zero Net City.”
The city has been working to achieve zero net energy status, which involves leveraging clean renewables to produce more energy than it consumes, since 2011.
The implementation of the latest rule must wait for a feasibility study to wrap up, expected in April.
Then Lancaster will seek approval from the California Energy Commission.
If everything goes smoothly, the rule will take effect before the close of 2017.