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Calif. City Targets ‘Solar Capital of the Universe’ Title

The sunny, high-desert city of Lancaster, Calif, is mandating that all new homes are equipped with solar power as it targets the intergalactic goal of becoming the universe’s solar power capital, according to a profile of the city’s mayor in the New York Times.

Two years ago mayor R. Rex Parris announced plans to become the first city to produce more energy from the sun than it consumes. This, Parris said, would make it the solar capital “of the world” before quickly correcting the statement to “of the universe,” the New York Times reports.

To generate a surplus of solar electricity, the city needs to harvest a total of 215 MW of solar power. That equates to 126 MW above the 39 MW it currently generates and the 50 MW currently under construction, the Times reports.

As a result, Lancaster plans to institute a law, effective from Jan. 1, 2014, that dictates that all new homes are either equipped with solar power or are part of a sub-division that generates a set amount of solar per house.

Specifically, residential homes on lots sized at 7,000 square feet or more must have a solar system of 1 kW to 1.5 kW. Rural residential homes of up to 100,000 square feet must have a system of at least 1.5 kW, reports Greentech.

Other smaller solar arrays can be found on the roofs of the churches, public buildings and a Toyota dealership in Lancaster, the Times Reports. However, the biggest payoff thus far from Parris’ plan for galactic-solar domination came from Lancaster’s public schools system. The city bought 32,094 panels and installed them on 25 schools. The project generates 7.5 MW of power that the city sells to the school district for 35 percent less than its previous rate, the Times reports.

In 2011, the City of Austin, Texas, became the largest municipality in the US to power all of its facilities using only renewable energy. At the time, the city said it had bought about 400 million kWh of renewable energy from a wind farm in West Texas.

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