Vineyards won’t be the only things flourishing when the sun shines on the fertile city of Sebastopol, Calif., in Sonoma wine country. The liberal stronghold of fewer than 8,000 residents this week became California’s second city to require that new homes be outfitted with panels to produce solar energy.
A vote by the City Council on Tuesday evening came less than two months after a similar program was approved in Lancaster, Calif., a conservative desert city with 150,000 residents nearly 400 miles away.
Sebastopol’s ordinance would require new residential and commercial buildings — as well as major additions and remodelings — to include a photovoltaic energy-generation system.
The system would have to provide 2 watts of power per square foot of insulated building area or offset 75 percent of the building’s annual electric load.
In situations where solar power is impractical, such as shaded areas, new buildings may use other energy alternatives or pay a fee.
Councilman Patrick Slayter, who co-authored the measure with [Mayor Michael] Kyes, remarked that the council’s action — before a crowd of about 40 people — was “on the low end of the scale (of controversy), which is welcome.”
The two Californian cities that have adopted solar mandates have markedly different climates and demographics, showing solar’s wide appeal.
And as soon as a third city joins up, we’ll be ready to call this a trend.