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Sebastopol poised to add solar requirement to new construction


Sebastopol, the small town of 7,400 tucked next to the green hills of west Sonoma County, would seem to have little in common with Lancaster, a high desert city of 146,000 located 400 miles away in northeast Los Angeles County.

Sebastopol Mayor Michael Kyes is a Democrat, and the city is represented in Congress by Rep. Jared Huffman, a Democrat who serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.

 Solar panels installed at Sebastopol's Ives Pool in 2004. (PD File)

Solar panels installed at Sebastopol’s Ives Pool in 2004. (PD File)

Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris is a Republican, as is Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Sebastopol revels in the Apple Blossom Festival, while Lancaster, on the same weekend in April, hosts the California Poppy Festival.

But the two cities have a mutual affinity for power from the sun.

Lancaster is the first city in California to require solar power systems on all new housing developments, part of Mayor Parris’ promotion of his town as the “alternative energy capital of the world.”

Sebastopol, noted for its counterculture inclinations, appears on track to become No. 2, with a solar power requirement for new homes and commercial buildings on the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“I think it is the obvious way to go,” Kyes said. “Every time you build a house you’re making the matter worse.”

Sebastopol’s measure, intended “to increase energy conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” got a hearty endorsement from Ann Hancock, executive director of the Santa Rosa-based Climate Protection Campaign.

“This is what we want to see for Sonoma County,” she said, citing the goal of the county and its nine cities of dropping emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2015.

“We’re in the midst of an energy revolution,” Hancock said, referring to transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy. “Bring it on.”

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 two 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.

The measure would take effect in 60 days, but would not apply to development plans already on file with the city.

Rooftop solar power systems are fairly common in Sebastopol, which has one megawatt of solar generating capacity, Kyes said.

A megawatt is considered enough power for about 500 homes.

Kyes said he put solar panels on his 3,000-square-foot home eight years ago, cutting his power and gas bill to $10 a month. The system has paid for itself, he said.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Sebastopol Youth Annex, 425 Morris St.

(You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.)

16 Responses to “Sebastopol poised to add solar requirement to new construction”

  1. GAJ says:

    “Sebastopol’s ordinance would require new residential and commercial buildings — as well as major additions and remodelings — to include a photovoltaic energy generation system.”

    Does this mean that if someone wants to upgrade their 1950′s kitchen into something more modern, let’s say a $50,000 project, that they now have to add a $25,000 Solar system?

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  2. Andy says:

    Anthony…I only live here because my home hasn’t sold yet because of the liberal, progressive policies. Don’t lump everyone into your self perceived notions. This WAS a great place to live but now is a big government, nanny state that takes away our rights to make decisions for ourselves and prices the cost of living here way out of reach for many people. The liberal solution is to raise taxes on those that were middle-class but are now perceived to be wealthy by the progressive liberals. You people suck and I’m so ready to move back to America.

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  3. Anthony Angry says:

    @Skippy – Who’s outraged? The solar panel requirement was approved. Looking at the comments, it’s the people who use the word Liberal as a pejorative that doing the raging, skippy. And let’s be clear here, you live here because it’s a better place to be and it’s better because of liberal and progressive policies. You just keep on pretending, you’re only fooling yourself.

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  4. Skippy says:

    Sorry to rain on the one-party-rule Ca. parade. I stay here just to drive the liberals crazy. It seems to be working well. It’s a great place to watch coverage of the collapse of the collectivist house-of-cards. Liberals are fun when they’re outraged!

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  5. Andy says:

    Dan, I’ll agree that the weather here is beautiful but Austria was beautiful too in 1941 but it doesn’t mean that I’d want to live there.

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  6. James Bennett says:

    Does anyone think it’s a coincidence that this-pick your word:
    liberal, socialist, progressive crap really started taking a foothold about the time we signed up with this globalist NGO?

    How ironic that many of these well meaning souls that drank the Kool-Aide would have their appreciation of ‘Open Space’ anf nature reduced to old photos if this oppression reaches it’s goals.

    Why do you think they’re in such a rush to build all this high density housing near rail, amid this fiscal back drop?

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  7. Dan Drummond Sr says:

    For those leaving Sonoma County, you are leaving one of the five Mediterranean climates on earth. Wherever you’re off to, I hope the climate suits your soul. We all have to make compromises.

    “I firmly believe, from what I have seen, that this is the chosen spot of all this earth as far as Nature is concerned.” ~ Luther Burbank, 1875

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  8. Andy says:

    Thanks Dan and good-bye to you. This sounds like a win win. It’s great when events happen that make everyone winners.

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  9. GAJ says:

    I’m all for Solar and will in fact put it on my house when my roof fails.

    Thing is adding $25,000 to the cost of a home up front seems pure folly in an area where home prices remain out of reach for many people already.

    It should be optional and incentivized.

    Moderately priced housing is what is needed…unless, of course, you want to make Sebastopol for upper middle class, mostly white, folks only.

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  10. Dan Drummond Sr says:

    Vinyl Rules is so right.
    Goody bye-bye Andy.

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  11. Andy says:

    James, I have lived here all my life, over 60 years but, at this time, I have no ties to the community and don’t even recognize it anymore. We have been invaded by liberal wing nuts that take everything to the extreme and have totally destroyed this community. It all started with Sonoma State and has progressively changed for the worse ever since the school started.

    All of my family have already moved as have most of my childhood friends. I have nothing in common with the new liberal locals and don’t really want any connection with them. I have been a lifelong moderate Democrat but changed to Independent since the Progressive Socialists hijacked the party.

    You want to change the county but, to me at least, it isn’t worth saving. There are many nice places to relocate, mostly out of California, that don’t need changing and I can more than pay for the move with tax savings and huge inheritance tax savings for my kids. So good luck with your venture but I’ll still be looking for the county line in my rearview mirror.

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  12. Fiscal Conservative says:

    No thanks Adolph, I choose Freedom and Liberty!

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  13. Vinyl Rules says:

    Incredible! Every building in the world should have this requirement. It will simply be factored into construction costs, like roofing or plumbing. One day we will look back on the resistance to solar panels and wonder what all the controversy is about. A small, but amazing, step towards a better future.

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  14. James Bennett says:

    Andy: I don’t blame you.

    I would sell my real estate and move too, except that…
    I have an over 70% repeat/referral business.


    We can’t run from this.

    The North West, especially Sonoma County is the ‘pilot’, the template for this property rights, small business, redundant taxation tyranny, but it’s headed everywhere.

    Many more of us need to get involved, show up, hold public officials accountable.

    The most prolific accomplished citizen group has been doing their best to stand up for our civil liberties.

    Contact/web sites:

    There is no running from this oppression, even though it’s the most over reaching here, it is every where.

    Once this crap is successful here, it will be there.

    People like me have something in common with this globalist Plan.

    They want this area to represent what happens to free people every where…
    and so do we.

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  15. Andy says:

    This is a prime example of why I’m selling out and leaving Socialist County. I can’t wait to see this place in my rear view mirror.

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  16. James Bennett says:

    More property rights crashing ‘requirements’.

    Another way to stifle economic growth.

    More ICLEI directed crap.

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