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Sebastopol poised to add solar requirement to new construction

  • PC: PHOTO BY MARK ARONOFF--Solar panels installed on rooftop framework Tuesday at Ives Pool in Sebastopol are designed to generate electricity and avoid rising energy costs to operate the pool's pumps. Sebastopol-based Solar Works designed the system.
    5/6/2004: B1: Solar panels installed on rooftop framework Tuesday at Ives Pool in Sebastopol are designed to generate electricity and avoid rising energy costs to operate the pool's pumps. Sebastopol-based Solar Works designed the system.

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.

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.


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