While San Bernardino County staff was preparing a draft ordinance intended to govern commercial solar energy generation in the County, a local group, working at the behest of Supervisor James Ramos’ office, generated its own Renewable Energy Analysis. Reporter Dan Stork says, the BEAT goes on…

The Basin Energy Assessment Team (BEAT), which has been meeting since July in the Joshua Tree offices of Supervisor James Ramos, has issued a report titled “Renewable Energy Analysis.” Ramos’ staff sought input from community “stakeholders” to complement the work of County planners during the County’s moratorium on commercial solar energy development, and to help inform the Board of Supervisors on future decisions. The report identified 12 of the BEAT participants (there were a few more). Of the 12, eight are either members of the Board, or advisors to, the Morongo Basin Conservation Association, with one of the other four being a realtor (James Simpson). At a meeting with five of the participants – Seth Shteir, Meg Foley, Victoria Fuller, Mickey Luckman, Marina West — we asked how their report related to the draft ordinance on solar energy development that was discussed recently by the County Planning Commission. National Park Conservation Association representative Seth Shteir, a member of the group, said that the County ordinance was a good start, but lacked specificity. Examples given by the group included: The ordinance calls for avoidance of wildlife corridors, but doesn’t say who gets to define what a wildlife corridor is. Also, the ordinance calls for the use of “sufficient” water for dust control, but doesn’t quantify reasonable water use, which can vary by project. In an area where the ordinance is specific, the BEAT report calls for 30-mile Recreational Tourism Zones with no industrial renewable energy development around Joshua Tree National Park and other public and conservation lands; the ordinance wants a two-mile buffer around a smaller number of places. The BEAT report also recommends renewable energy projects in the “built environment,” such as warehouse and residential rooftops and parking structures. The ordinance is expected to come before the County Board of Supervisors during December.

Click here to read the Draft Solar Ordinance. Visit the Desert Renewal Energy Conservation Reports website at http://www.drecr.com.

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