(Victor Valley)– – The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved on Tuesday an agreement with the developer of a major solar energy project to provide funding for fire protection and emergency services.
“With a number of mega solar projects under construction and in the pipeline, it is important that the projects pay their fair share for the fire and emergency services that these large industrial facilities will require,” said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. “Solar projects have major tax exemptions but still have an impact on public services, and negotiations are required with each developer to offset those impacts and ensure the public is protected.”
The agreement is with Abengoa Solar’s Mojave Solar Project, a 250 megawatt solar power plant on 1,765 acres, now under construction near Harper Dry Lake, northwest of Barstow. When complete, the $1.2 billion project will generate enough power to supply more than 50,000 homes.
This is the second agreement reached between the County and a major solar project, the first being BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station, now under construction just off Interstate 15 near the California/Nevada state line.
The agreement calls for a one-time capital contribution from Mojave Solar of $400,000. Fifty percent of this capital payment will be offset by any sales and/or use tax generated from the project and paid to the County, resulting in a payment of $200,000 to the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District. In addition, the agreement calls for an ongoing annual payment for operations and maintenance of $411,000, with 60 percent to be offset by any taxes generated. It is estimated that the County will receive about $146,000 in property and/or possessory interest tax revenue from the Mojave Solar Project. Therefore, the annual payment from Mojave Solar directly to the County Fire District will be as much as $265,000.
In a separate agreement also approved by the Supervisors today, Mojave Solar will pay for repaving the stretch of Harper Lake Road north of Highway 58 that has been damaged by heavy trucks serving the project. The existing road will be pulverized and left as a dirt road until the solar project is complete, and then will be repaved.
“It is San Bernardino County’s responsibility to ensure that, as the solar industry and the state and federal governments take advantage of our plentiful sunlight, we make sure these projects are a net benefit to our residents,” Supervisor Mitzelfelt said.