Last week Riverside county voted to impose an annual fee on large, utility scale solar installations. The board of supervisors unanimously voted in favor of a “Sun Tax” that will charge large scale solar installations an annual fee for every acre used for solar collection. With the property tax brakes already given to any scale of solar projects, this new kind of tax would increase local revenue where large scale solar projects are implemented.
Supporters of the tax say that the fee will help local residents get something more out of having these large installations as their neighbors. Incentives, like offering long term employment locally, make the tax’s fee per acre span between $450 and $225 annually. I will help offset some of the county revenue lost in property tax brakes for renewable energy projects. The main aim of the tax is to make sure utility scale solar installations are beneficial to local residents.
Other advocates say a tax is fair, but the fee is set too high and will have too large an impact on solar projects in the county. They argue the county is only looking to increase revenue and not looking to the overall benefit to the local economy where developing solar projects has already stimulated local economic activity. Imposing a tax may alter the future of the local industry the county is hoping to cash in on.
As the conflict unfolds in Riverside, CA it promises to set some interesting precedence for future interactions between the solar industry and government officials. The county wide tax could hurt local solar installations, or might pave the way toward similar taxes and a fundamental shift in how we differentiate large scale from small scale solar collection.Sponsors: