Riverside County to vote on 'sun tax' for big solar power projects

If passed, the sun tax would require solar energy farms to pay for the right to put solar panels on Riverside County property
If passed, the sun tax would require solar energy farms to pay for the right to put solar panels on Riverside County property Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Solar energy farms may soon have to pay for the right to plant their reflective panels in the sands of Riverside County.

County supervisors will consider new property fees for large solar projects Tuesday. They say they want to offset potential problems for people, roads and wildlife.

The county's original proposal required solar energy generators to pay more than 2 percent of their yearly gross revenue. The backlash was so intense that supervisors delayed their vote and reworked the tax.

The latest plan calls for an annual parcel fee of $640 an acre. Solar firms could pay less if they meet certain requirements, like hiring more local workers.

But the so-called "Sun Tax" still isn't sitting well with solar providers. An industry advocacy group has taken out ads in local newspapers condemning it and touting the economic benefits of solar farms. Critics, including the city of Blythe, worry it will hinder job creation and drive renewable energy projects out of the county.

Riverside County says a fee could generate millions in revenue for the upkeep of roads, bridges & wildlife habitats. The county says established energy providers like Southern California Edison have paid such impact fees for years.

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