Solar panels

In Lancaster, California, the sun shines for more than 300 days a year. It’s no wonder that the city has turned to solar power.

In 2010, Republican Mayor Rex Parris made the commitment to obtain all of the city’s electricity from local clean energy.

Caudle: “That was the gauntlet, so to speak, that was the vision.”

Jason Caudle, deputy city manager, says that the city started by installing rooftop solar on municipal buildings. And, it set up a financing program that made solar more affordable for homes and businesses.

The city also passed an ordinance mandating solar panels on new homes. And it launched a program to provide residents with renewable energy through the existing grid.

Caudle: “Instead of trying to talk somebody into putting solar on their roof, we then were able to just procure on their behalf.”

Now, the city produces more solar energy per capita than any other city in California. And it’s not just good for the climate.

Caudle: “Everything we have done has generated revenue or saved costs.”

The industry has also created more than a thousand local jobs. Caudle says Lancaster has built a strong, local solar economy that is a model for other cities.

Reporting credit: Anna Moritz/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...