Lancaster looks to up solar leases in the Antelope Valley

The Antelope Valley city of Lancaster announces a new solar plan Monday. Officials there hope to install solar panels on residential rooftops throughout the city.

Only about 135 applications for the California Solar Initiative have come from the Antelope Valley. The city of Lancaster wants to do something about that, so it's announcing plans for a public-private partnership with the company SolarCity. The company offers financing for rooftop solar programs; customers pay for the renewable energy by agreeing to sell excess power to the city.

The first phase of Solar Lancaster would sign up homeowners for the program; the city of Lancaster will get a referral bonus for every customer SolarCity recruits through the partnership's website. In the second phase, city leaders hope to leverage federal rebates and state credits so they can locate larger projects atop businesses, school district buildings, hospitals and the fairgrounds. Lancaster would own and operate those panels.

In the long run the city wants to amass enough power to sell its renewable energy to municipal utilities. The Lancaster city council must approve the plan. Solar Lancaster goes up for a vote tomorrow.

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