Solar Trumps Houses In California City

The recent history of the parcel between 80th and 90th streets west and H and H-8 avenues on the northwestern edge of Lancaster, Calif., tells a lot about the shifting California economy. In a nutshell: housing, down; solar power, up.

As 2010 drew to a close, Beautiful Earth Group broke ground on a utility-scale photovoltaic solar power plant on the 187-acre site in the high-desert city outside Los Angeles. The company said “Del Sur Solar” will consist of two 19-megawatt (MW) plants and will generate some 16 gigawatt-hours of electricity ever year – enough energy to power over 10,000 homes.

solar panels, Lancaster, California, Del Sur Solar

image via PG&E

Homes, interestingly, are what had long been intended for the Del Sur parcel. Lancaster, a mecca for spillover growth from Los Angeles since its incorporation in 1977, had given a developer approval to build 631 homes there. But as planning commission documents reveal, the developer “lost the property through foreclosure, and the current applicant acquired the property through the bank.”

And Lancaster, in the sunny, solar-friendly Antelope Valley, couldn’t be happier (earlier last year we told you about solar carport in the city). “The City of Lancaster has determined that the development and use of alternative energy is beneficial to the community,” the planning commission said in approving the solar project. And at the Del Sur ground breaking, Lancaster Mayor  Rex R. Parris said, “Del Sur Solar brings Lancaster one step closer toward the goal of becoming the alternative energy capital of the world.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • This most certainly articulates a shift in culture I’m not sure anyone knows the full extent of to date. Good news is unlike other investments solar brings attention AND great rates of return to the neighborhood- maybe with that money the economy will truly jump start.