March 4, 2019 – It’s Lights Out on Big Solar in San Bernardino County Desert
Developers will no longer be allowed to develop large renewable energy projects in certain areas of the San Bernardino County desert. After a five-hour public hearing Tuesday, Feb. 28, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to prohibit utility-oriented renewable energy development in rural zones and the unincorporated communities of Bloomington… Get Story
Note: Big Solar companies circled back around and tried to amend the original approved policy of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) with an amendment. Dan Titus and Jim Phelps responded to the original RECE during the comment period. That comment became part of The American Coalition for Sustainable Communities report, Community Choice Aggregation: A False Choice written by the two industry observers. That report, and hundreds of pages of additional documentation, was delivered to the County denoting the problems with renewable energy. Since then, their report has been sent to every city, county in the State and to many councils of governments. Their report is the only counter argument to CCAs.
SAN BERNARDINO — Thursday’s hearing to determine if areas in Lucerne Valley, Newberry Springs and Daggett will be protected from industrial scale solar development ended in victory for local residents.
After hearing 7 1/2 hours of public comment, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission made a motion to adopt the original Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (RECE) 4.10 policy that prohibited industrial-scale solar in rural living zones and rural communities.
“There were 53 speakers. The majority were members who spoke in opposition to the modified alternative Section 4.10,” said Mojave Communities Conservation Collaborative Founder Lorrie Steely. “This is a win for rural communities.”
According to Steely, during the nine-month delay for the hearing, the county has received applications for large-scale solar covering 10,000 acres in Lucerne Valley, Daggett and Newberry Springs alone.
Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association President Chuck Bell said that the large turnout dedicated to the welfare of their communities and compelling arguments were what helped convince the Planning Commission to reinstate the original Section 4.10.
“There was a lot of public input with experts on the desert, the tourism industry, the feelings of the communities involved and the board listened,” said Newberry Springs resident Paula Deel. “They were very responsive. They appreciated the struggles that Lucerne Valley has been going through with the influx of solar projects.”
This was the first time Deel had seen the Planning Commission in action and said she was impressed with who the supervisors appointed to panel.
“We applaud the Planning Commission not only for its action — but for convening a well-managed hearing and its respect for attendees,” said Bell.
Although much of the High Desert is zoned so to prohibit the development of industrial-scale solar, the Planning Commission noted that solar projects are welcome — just not next to people — 0when passing on the original Section 4.10 to the Board of Supervisors for consideration.
“Now that the planning staff is obligated to pass the Commission’s (4-0) recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, it will be much harder for the board to do what it did before — eliminate the original 4.10 which allowed more than 7,000 acres of new projects to be filed in our communities — forcing them to be more oriented to the will of its constituents and taxpayers and less on the political pressure from unions, developers, and campaign contributions,” Bell said.