Republican mayor transforms California city into ‘the solar capital of the universe’

ThinkProgress reports: Some cities were hit hard by the Great Recession. Lancaster, California was positively clobbered. In the summer of 2009, the unemployment rate reached 17 percent, housing prices bottomed out, and foreclosures were rampant.

Since then, the city has turned things around, thanks in part to the efforts of three-time Republican mayor Rex Parris, who transformed Lancaster into a clean energy powerhouse. Parris has been described by critics as “an arrogant bully and an unstoppable control freak,” according to the Los Angeles Times, but he gets results.

Today, the city produces more solar power per capita than any other city in California, and it is close to producing more renewable energy than it uses — a milestone on its way to becoming “the solar capital of the universe,” as Parris says.

“Had it not been for his leadership, we would not be on this journey,” said Lancaster city manager Mark Bozigian.

The solar boom has given a jolt of energy to the local economy. Housing prices have rebounded and the unemployment rate has dropped to less than 6 percent. Lancaster says its clean energy policies have created more than 1,000 jobs — no small feat in a city of just 160,000 people. [Continue reading…]

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