SolarCity® and the City of Lancaster today announced plans to install 2.5 megawatts of new solar electric power capacity across six different City sites including City Hall, Clear Channel stadium and the City’s performing arts center.

Upon completion, the installations are expected to comprise the largest commercial photovoltaic (PV) solar project in Lancaster and one of the largest city-initiated solar projects in the State of California.

“The City of Lancaster is not only committed to facilitating the addition of new alternative energy plants and technologies in the Antelope Valley, but also to utilizing alternative energy in our own facilities whenever possible,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Our City is dedicated to being both business-friendly and eco-friendly. In addition, this project is fiscally responsible, as it will save taxpayers a substantial amount of money immediately and over the long-term.”

Lancaster’s solar power systems are expected to produce more than four million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually; sufficient to offset an estimated 92 percent of the sites’ total energy use and save the City more than $7 million over the next 15 years. SolarCity will finance, install, own and maintain the solar systems, while the City of Lancaster pays for the power they produce through a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA). SolarCity and the City anticipate that the project, which was approved by the Lancaster City Council at their March 9th meeting, will create more than 50 local jobs.

“The use of SolarCity’s technology not only makes sense environmentally, it makes fiscal sense,” said Deputy City Manager Jason Caudle. “As a government agency, we are deeply aware of the recession’s impact on revenue, and every decision we make is influenced by the bottom line. From this perspective, the most important aspect of this project is that it will be financed by funds we are already spending in energy costs. In the long-term, we will produce the vast majority of our energy ourselves, saving a substantial amount of taxpayer money in energy costs; in the short-term, we will put in place a system which harnesses the power of sustainable solar energy to power our facilities throughout Lancaster.”

With more than 300 days of sunshine each year, the City of Lancaster has aggressively set out to capitalize on this substantial solar resource. Lancaster has worked in a variety of green energy-related areas to make further progress toward this goal. Two recent City ordinances have made it easier than ever before for Lancaster residents and business owners to utilize alternative energy, both solar and wind.

“Lancaster is leveraging its greatest natural resource—sunlight—to save millions of dollars over the next 15 years that can be spent on other services,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. “The City’s new solar projects will generate enough electricity to power four hundred homes.”

The City’s commitment to a sustainable environment is not just confined to solar energy. Lancaster has established an extensive recycled water system in an effort to conserve potable water by utilizing recycled water for such purposes as landscaping and watering. In addition, the City has designated undisturbed land in west Lancaster as the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve, which provides residents with the opportunity to explore the natural flora and fauna of their desert environment. Lancaster also utilizes hybrid vehicles whenever possible and has established a special ordinance to prevent water wasting.

The upcoming Lancaster installations represent SolarCity’s second major project in the City. In August 2009, the company completed work with developer InSite Development to complete a 282-kilowatt solar system for Arbor Court, a 234-unit assisted living complex for low-income seniors across the street from Lancaster City Hall. 

“The City of Lancaster continues to work hard to take advantage of sustainable energy opportunities whenever possible,” added Mayor Parris. “We are not only committed to becoming the alternative energy capital of the world, but also to creating a cleaner, greener and better Lancaster.”