Never-before-attempted affordable solar energy housing community in Lancaster, California

Taking the solar world by the reigns, Mayor Parris has led the city into numerous one-of-a-kind partnerships with leaders in the alternative energy realm. The movement began in early 2010 when Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich invited Mayor 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, the Mayor 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 the City of Lancaster, in partnership with Solar City, 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 solar partnerships spearheaded by Mayor Parris 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.

The City’s most recent venture 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.

Mayor Parris had the pleasure of joining Beautiful Earth Group at the 2012 World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he addressed the summit on the subject of Transforming Cities: Establishing Sustainable Communities. While in the UAE, the Mayor and Beautiful Earth also toured Masdar City, a new Net Zero city currently being built from the ground up in the desert of Abu Dhabi to be the most sustainable city in the world.

In addition to his “world class” pursuits, the Mayor maintains a tight-knit community focus. He has served as the catalyst for Lancaster’s downtown renaissance which has introduced an entirely new atmosphere, look, and economy to this historically, and culturally valuable area of the community.

In April 2012, the citizens of Lancaster again elected Parris as Mayor, this time to serve a four year term. The new four-year Mayoral term (Measure M) was approved by the voters of Lancaster and ratified by the City Council in April 2010.

Mayor Parris is a graduate of Antelope Valley Community College, and the prestigious Scholar’s Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He earned his Juris Doctor Degree from Southwestern University School of Law, and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1980. Last updated: 5/29/2012 4:05:37 PM

[verified 4/18/14]

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