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A Setback for Riverside County's Solar Fee

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Aerial photo of land cleared for solar development in the Riverside County desert | Photo: Chris Clarke

California's Riverside County has suffered a setback in its attempt to recoup some income from utility-scale solar development inside its borders. As the Desert Sun's K Kaufman reports, a Riverside County judge ruled last week that solar industry trade groups should be allowed to sue over the county's Board Policy B-29, a November 2011 measure that would charge solar facility owners $450 per acre per year.

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The Independent Energy Producers Association and Large-Scale Solar Association filed suit in February against the county and its Board of Supervisors.

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit, who wrote the measure at issue, maintains that the fee is necessary to pay for costs incurred by the county when solar facilities are built, including emergency services and potential loss of tax revenue from damage to the tourism industry. Benoit's district covers most of the nearly 185 square miles in Riverside County proposed for solar development. Opponents, who have dubbed the fee a "sun tax," say that the fee is excessive compared to similar fees in nearby counties, and that it countermands state law exempting solar facilities from property taxes until 2017.

A status hearing in the case has been scheduled for July 26. The trial will likely commence before the end of the year.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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