Renewable Energy & Conservation Element
Last updated: 10/27/2020
The ability to generate, control, and distribute energy has a profound effect on our society. Reliable, affordable, and accessible energy keeps our homes comfortable, our families safe, our streets lit, and our businesses productive. Historically, energy has been generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, the latter of which accounts for nearly three quarters of the County’s energy production (per Figure 1). These energy sources have provided abundant cheap energy and allowed economic and quality of life increases that are unprecedented in human history. They are nonrenewable, however, and have taken heavy tolls on the environment and human health. As fossil fuel supplies dwindle and their effects on global climate mount, renewable energy (RE) sources have become essential. RE technologies capture energy from ongoing natural sources such as solar radiation, wind, tides, waves, rivers, biological processes, and geothermal heat(1). San Bernardino County has abundant RE resources with the potential to generate substantial energy.
The County government has jurisdictional control over nearly 2 million acres of land representing 15% of total land within the county boundary, exclusive of incorporated cities and public land under the control of state or federal agencies. Much of this total has potential for RE generation facility siting. Renewable resources available in the county include biomass fuels, wind, and solar energy. Various technologies are available to convert these renewable energy sources into a usable form of energy. Existing technologies and facilities in the county vary in their scale and intensity. The majority of existing renewable energy production in the county occurs at large facilities that supply energy to the statewide power grid for consumption throughout California and beyond.
Although renewable energy provides a path to a clean energy future, RE facilities have the potential to cause unintended negative effects on sensitive biological species and habitat, visual resources, cultural resources, and nearby communities. To achieve a clean energy future that minimizes negative effects consistent with local values, the County has considered how to reduce energy use through energy efficiency and conservation measures, and identified renewable energy facility standards that concentrate on community-oriented RE facilities that produce electricity for local consumption.
Our County government seeks to manage land use and development in a manner consistent with the Countywide Vision. This Element is focused on sustainability, public health and wellness, and stewardship of land to promote an environment of prosperity and well-being for those who reside and invest in the County. In this context, the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element (Element) is intended to ensure efficient consumption of energy and water, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, pursue the benefits of renewable energy and responsibly manage its impacts on our environment, communities and economy. Specifically, the purpose of this Element is to:
- Clarify the County’s collective community, environmental, and economic values for RE development and conservation.
- Articulate what the County will strive to achieve and avoid through energy conservation, energy efficiency, and RE development.
- Establish goals and policies to manage RE development and conservation of the natural environment.
- Set a framework for Development Code standards for RE development.
While the Element is by law an optional component of the County’s General Plan, County leaders chose to include it because of its importance to our people, economy and environment. The State of California has established a set of RE mandates and incentives2 that have major implications for the County of San Bernardino. These mandates, technology advances, and increasing demand have created substantial volumes of permit applications for RE development in the county. Meanwhile, local residents and stakeholders have expressed increasing concerns about impacts of projects. Many have become opposed to RE development, particularly at utility scale. This Element is intended to strengthen County policies and regulatory systems to strategically manage RE development and promote energy conservation.
The policies in this Element reflect a combination of insights from best practices, regional environmental conditions, local values, climate change and economic need. Development Code standards will ensure that constantly advancing technologies and development practices, or “Means,” will support achieving our goals, or “Ends”. It is essential then that the County’s regulatory system be clear as to its core values and guiding principles so that energy development proposals can be evaluated and permitted in a highly predictable manner. While regulatory updates will be necessary from time to time, the guiding framework should be highly stable.
Generally, the Element emphasizes community-oriented renewable energy (CORE)(3). Our ideal is local production primarily for local consumption. Programs like Community Choice Aggregation are highlighted to encourage locally appropriate development. . This Element presents a CORE-standards approach, coupled with stringent siting criteria for utility-scale RE development. Such generation facilities will be limited to specific areas that can accommodate them in a manner consistent with the policies and standards in our regulatory system. Specifically, the County will focus utility-scale facilities in well-defined areas that are (1) less desirable for the development of communities, neighborhoods, commerce, and industry, and (2) less
environmentally and culturally sensitive.(4)
The Countywide Vision Statement adopted by the Board of Supervisors on June 30, 2011, fosters strategic countywide coordination in a manner that reflects the priorities of local residents, businesses, and stakeholders. The citizens of San Bernardino County share the following core values, as articulated in the Countywide Vision:
- Quality of Life: A high quality of life for residents of the county that provides a broad range of choices to support the county’s diverse people, geography, and economy to live, work, and play.
- Vibrant Economy: Ample economic opportunities for current residents and businesses that support countywide prosperity, as well as new investment in economic growth.
- Conservation of Natural and Cultural Resources: Stewardship that conserves and responsibly uses environmental, scenic, recreational, and cultural assets, ensures healthy habitats for sensitive plants and wildlife, enhances air quality and makes the county a great place for residents and visitors alike. Renewable energy, when developed responsibly, is a valuable natural resource.
- Sustainable Systems: High quality built, natural, and social systems that complement, rather than degrade, the county’s natural resources, environment, and existing communities.
- Self-Reliance: Communities or individuals meeting their own energy needs.
- Open Governance: Governance guided by open, transparent, and ethical decision-making that values the county’s environment, people, heritage, location, economy, and community spirit.
This Element’s Guiding Principles will guide plans, projects, and investment decisions that are subject to the General Plan. Based largely on the Core Values, Goals and Standards set through public involvement in the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element Framework of February 24, 2015, these principles encourage balanced, integrated, consistent, and predictable approaches to renewable energy development, addressing topics such as energy conservation, efficiency, siting, orientation of production (community or utility), types of technology, environmental stewardship, community compatibility, equity, access, and leadership. The Guiding Principles are intended to be relevant to every action that updates, amends, or implements this Element.
The County seeks to ensure that regulatory systems and land use decision-making are consistent with the values and goals expressed in this Element. By framing goals and policies in the context of Guiding Principles, the County is able to ensure continuity throughout its regulatory language and planning documents. Decision-makers then have a framework to inform discretionary review and can consistently determine whether proposed actions reflect County intentions on balance.
In the context of our Core Values, the County will consider the following guiding principles when making land use decisions related to renewable energy development:
Principle RE-1 Community-Oriented:
- Encourage community-oriented renewable energy generation facilities, with emphasis and priority given to roof-top and parking lot installations of solar energy systems.
- Keep large-scale (10 MW or greater) utility-oriented projects separate from or sufficiently buffered from existing communities, to avoid adverse impacts on community development and quality of life.
- Encourage local renewable energy production to meet local energy demand while allowing excess energy to be sold to the grid.
- Pursue energy security and independence.
- Ensure that new renewable energy development is located, designed, and constructed in a manner that reflects Core Values and respects private property rights.
- Encourage more direct benefits to the county from renewable energy.
- Inform affected communities and stakeholders about proposed renewable energy development in a manner that allows meaningful, timely engagement in the review process.
- Collaborate with county residents and other stakeholders to improve understanding of renewable energy issues.
- Provide residents more affordable, reliable, diverse, and safe access to energy, especially renewable energy.
- Ensure that development of County-owned properties is consistent with the goals and policies of the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element.
Principle RE-2, Environmentally-Oriented:
- Emphasize and promote energy efficiency and the utilization of rooftop and other onsite accessory generation.
- Guide community and regional development to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
- Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in response to state mandates.
- Improve air quality.
- Direct renewable energy facilities to suitable areas in the unincorporated county – especially to areas that have been previously disturbed, leverage the existing transmission network, and/or respond to local demand.
- Encourage design, materials, and technologies to support responsible, equitable, and highly efficient energy consumption.
- Conserve and sustain sensitive natural resources and habitats.
- Prohibit renewable energy production in areas identified as critical habitat or as a wildlife corridor for species of special concern as defined in the Conservation Element, without comprehensive and feasible mitigation or avoidance of potential impacts.
- Prohibit renewable energy production in areas known to contain significant cultural resources, without a comprehensive program of avoidance and treatment.
- Monitor RE generation facilities during construction, throughout their useful lives, and through decommissioning, to ensure conformance to conditions of use.
Principle RE-3, Economically-Oriented:
- Encourage economic growth that complements local values, needs and lifestyles.
- Encourage renewable energy development that promotes a strong economy.
- Maintain a system of fees, taxation, and other compensatory tools that adequately covers County costs of providing necessary public services, including the costs associated with the regulation of renewable energy project sites.
- Optimize the benefits of renewable energy to county residents, businesses, organizations, and government, while ensuring fiscal integrity, accountability, and consistency with the county’s core values.
- Ensure predictability, consistency, clarity, and timeliness in the permitting process for renewable energy projects.
- Encourage and simplify the permitting of on-site renewable energy production for on-site consumption.
Principle RE-4: Infrastructure Use Efficiency
- While the County does not approve or regulate utility transmission corridors, the goals and policies of this Element are intended to support the presence of adequate transmission infrastructure while minimizing the need for or development of new transmission corridors.
2) The Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a state law mandating increased procurement of renewable energy by California utilities. Under the targets of the RPS, all electricity providers in the state must procure at least 50% of the electricity they sell from eligible renewable resources by 2030. The RPS is administered jointly by the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission. See: http://www.energy.ca.gov/portfolio/.http://www.energy.ca.gov/portfolio/.
3) CORE refers to communities or businesses seeking renewable energy for their own use. The focus of CORE is small-scale distributed generation that primarily addresses local needs and allows excess energy to be sold to the grid.
4) Additional information on renewable energy, environmental considerations and community engagement can be found in the PMC Background Report
Goals & Policies
Expand each goal to see related policies
The County will pursue energy efficiency tools and conservation practices that optimize the benefits of renewable energyPolicy RE-1.1
Continue implementing the energy conservation and efficiency measures identified in the County of San Bernardino Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan.Policy RE-1.2
Optimize energy efficiency in the built environment
- RE 1.2.1: Support low- to no-cost retrofits to improve energy efficiency of existing homes through grant and loan programs.
- RE 1.2.2: Encourage property owners to participate in a PACE program for access to energy efficiency retrofit financing.
- RE 1.2.3: Encourage utilities to expand free to low-cost audit and retrofit programs in the built environments.
- RE 1.2.4: Work with utilities (Southern California Edison (SCE), Southern California Gas Company (SCG), etc.) to identify retrofit opportunities with short payback periods, such as variable-speed pool pumps, building air sealing, and attic insulation, for County use in conducting focused energy efficiency outreach.
- RE 1.2.5: Collaborate with community partners to promote the benefits of energy efficiency to County residents, businesses, and industries.
- RE 1.2.6: Encourage new development to comply with the optional energy efficiency measures of the CALGreen Code.
- RE 1.2.7: Encourage passive solar design in subdivision and design review processes.
Promote the local economic benefits of energy efficiency retrofits.
- RE 1.3.1: Support workforce development and certification for green trades.
- RE 1.3.2: Provide networking opportunities to connect local contractors with energy efficiency retrofit programs such as the PACE program and Energy Upgrade California.
- RE 1.3.3: Encourage energy efficiency retrofit projects as components of adaptive re-use of historic structures.
Encourage residents and businesses to conserve energy.
- RE 1.4.1: Collaborate with utilities to support and learn from annual energy benchmarking reports that large energy users are conducting pursuant to AB 1103.
- RE 1.4.2: Collaborate with the CEC, utilities, and local partners to launch online energy tracking competitions.
The County will be home to diverse and innovative renewable energy systems that provide reliable and affordable energy to our unique Valley, Mountain, and Desert regionsPolicy RE-2.1
Support solar energy generation, solar water heating, wind energy and bioenergy systems that are consistent with the orientation, siting and environmental compatibility policies of the General Plan
- RE 2.1.1: Utilize renewable energy development standards in the Development Code to minimize impacts on surrounding properties.
Promote use of energy storage technologies that are appropriate for the character of the proposed location.
- RE 2.2.1: Encourage onsite energy storage with RE generation facilities, consistent with County Development Code requirements.
- RE 2.2.2: Encourage and allow energy storage facilities as an accessory component of RE generation facilities.
- RE 2.2.3: Establish thresholds for conditions under which energy storage facilities are a primary use and subject to separate permit processes.
- RE 2.2.4: Periodically review and encourage appropriate technology types for energy storage facilities.
- RE 2.2.5: Support state policies and efforts by utility companies to plan for and develop energy storage technologies through legislative advocacy and coordination with utility companies.
Encourage the use of feasible emerging and experimental renewable energy technologies that are compatible with County regulatory standards.
- RE 2.3.1: Monitor emerging renewable energy technologies and amend County development standards as needed to accommodate suitable new technology types.
- RE 2.3.2: Monitor improvements in existing renewable energy technologies, and consider allowing additional types of renewable energy facilities as they become compatible with County regulatory standards.
Identify and prioritize programs that support cost-effective and universal access to renewable energy.
- RE 2.4.1: Expand outreach and education efforts through the County’s online Community Development Toolkit on programs such as the availability of federal and state tax credits,
- participation in the a PACE program, and other mechanisms to reduce the cost of renewable energy facilities for onsite use on new and existing buildings.
- RE 2.4.2: Educate developers about the County’s RE goals and policies, and encourage the inclusion of renewable energy facilities for onsite use in new developments.
- RE 2.4.3: Engage with residential developers to discuss and identify opportunities and incentives to expand onsite renewable energy facilities consistent with the goals and policies of this Element.
- RE 2.4.4: Encourage installation of renewable energy systems on rental properties, multi-family buildings, and buildings with multiple commercial tenants by working with property developers and owners, using tools such as green leases, split incentive programs, and the California Solar Initiative’s MASH program.
- RE 2.4.5: Encourage the pursuit of community choice aggregation programs in collaboration with other interested jurisdictions in the region.
- RE 2.4.6: Proactively coordinate RE programs with other jurisdictions in the County to promote countywide collaboration and consistency.
Support renewable energy systems that accelerate zero net energy (ZNE) through innovative design, construction, and operations of residences, businesses, and institutions that are grid-neutral and independent of centralized energy infrastructure.
- RE 2.5.1: Allow and encourage construction of new buildings designed to ZNE standards consistent with state programs.
- RE 2.5.2: Incorporate ZNE into outreach and educational strategies about renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- RE 2.5.3: Allow and encourage construction of new buildings or developments in remote locations with stand-alone energy systems not connected to the grid.
- RE 2.5.4: Encourage energy independence and resiliency, including zero net energy and stand-alone systems not connected to the grid, in County economic development presentations and outreach efforts.
- RE 2.5.5: Collaborate with incorporated cities and other jurisdictions to create region-specific ZNE programs and Community Development toolkit tools tailored to the climates and characteristics of each region to provide consistency and leverage resources.
Encourage energy efficiency through appropriate renewable energy systems.
- RE 2.6.1: Pursue and consider development incentives such as density bonuses and streamlined permitting for projects that install accessory renewable energy facilities.
- RE 2.6.2: Allow developers of nonresidential properties to reduce required on-site parking spaces below minimum standards when space equivalent to the parking space reduction is devoted to renewable energy generation and storage facilities designed to serve onsite energy needs.
- RE 2.6.3: Encourage solar energy generation on rooftops and on covered parking as the first priority for on-site energy generation.
Community-oriented renewable energy facilities will be prioritized to complement local values and support a high quality of life in unincorporated communitiesPolicy RE-3.1
Prioritize, facilitate, and encourage onsite accessory RE generation to serve the unincorporated county, with a primary focus on rooftop and parking lot solar energy generation.
- RE 3.1.1: Permit rooftop, parking lot, and similar accessory RE generation facilities that primarily serve on-site energy needs in all zoning districts, including micro-grid systems, with minimal regulation and permitting requirements.
Encourage community-oriented renewable energy (CORE) generation that primarily serves local uses in the county.
- RE 3.2.1: Specific standards shall be established and maintained for community-oriented RE generation facilities appropriate to the Valley, Desert, and Mountain regions.
- RE 3.2.2: Encourage through the regulatory system the establishment of local and regional organizations to pursue community-oriented RE production and storage.
- RE 3.2.3: CORE facilities shall be designed primarily to meet the needs of the local users, with an adequate overage margin to meet peak demands and defray the cost of the systems.
- RE 3.2.3: Encourage utilities and developers to establish community-shared solar programs that allow residents and businesses to purchase shares of the output of RE generation facilities to offset their electricity bills.
- RE 3.2.4: Provide information and educational opportunities in the Countywide Plan Community Development Tool Kit for local organizations pursuing the acquisition of Community-Oriented Renewable Energy (CORE).
- RE 3.2.5: Encourage utilization of micro-grid technologies to support the principle of “local production primarily for local consumption,” to enhance local energy security and to improve local costs of living and commerce.
- RE 3.2.6: Apply minimal discretion in the permit approval process for CORE facilities.
- RE 3.2.7: Encourage infrastructure, net metering and regulatory systems that support CORE facilities.
Promote an adaptive distributed energy infrastructure that sustains local communities and improves resiliency to grid failures and increasing energy prices.
- RE 3.3.1: Support research, planning and investment in accessory and community-oriented energy generation, distribution, and storage infrastructure by adapting regulatory tools to respond to rapidly evolving RE technologies.
- RE 3.3.2: Encourage new institutional campuses and large residential/commercial developments to include micro-grids with onsite renewable energy generation and energy storage systems.
Require renewable energy facilities developed in spheres of influence of incorporated cities to be compatible and consistent with standards of the sphere cities.Policy RE-3.5
Incorporate resident, business owner, and stakeholder input into the development and implementation of County policies for renewable energy.Policy RE-3.6
Encourage renewable energy facilities to meet community goals, including supporting community health, wellness, and recreational needs.
- RE 3.6.1: Include opportunities to incorporate public art and encourage design features that provide screening in renewable energy facilities on public spaces, nonresidential facilities, and multi-family buildings.
- RE 3.6.2: Encourage the use of renewable energy facilities as shade structures in parks and community centers, and over parking lots and parking structures.
Continue to foster local economic benefits of renewable energy facilities through community involvement.
- RE 3.7.1: Require CORE project development applications to be sponsored or co-sponsored by local users who will be the primary consumers of the energy generated by the projects.
- RE 3.7.2: Encourage RE generation facility developers to give preference to San Bernardino County residents in hiring for construction, operation, and decommissioning of the facility.
- RE 3.7.3: Encourage local community colleges, vocational schools, and workforce training centers to offer programs on renewable energy installation and maintenance.
- RE 3.7.4: Encourage innovation zones for manufacturers to locate and operate in the unincorporated county to research, construct, test, and distribute renewable energy technologies
The County will establish a new era of sustainable energy production and consumption in the context of sound resource conservation and renewable energy development practices that reduce greenhouse gases and dependency on fossil fuelsPolicy RE-4.1
Apply standards to the design, siting, and operation of all renewable energy facilities that protect the environment, including sensitive biological resources, air quality, water supply and quality, cultural, archaeological, paleontological and scenic resources.
- RE 4 .1.1: Consult with Native American tribes in the identification, evaluation, and treatment of cultural resources and in the preparation and implementation of measures required to identify, evaluate, protect, and manage cultural resources.
- RE 4.1.2: RE development applications shall be subject to thorough environmental review, including consideration of water consumption, before being permitted.
Ensure that renewable energy facilities do not disrupt, degrade, or alter the local hydrology and hydrogeology.
- RE 4.2.1: Require a groundwater impact assessment that evaluates the short and long-term impacts to groundwater usage.
Require construction and operation of all renewable energy facilities to minimize negative effects and optimize benefits to unincorporated communities.
- RE 4.3.1: Define measures required to minimize ground disturbance, soil erosion, flooding, and blowing of sand and dust, with appropriate enforcement mechanisms in the Development Code.
- RE 4.3.2: Require operators to track and report energy production and other benefits cited in a project proposal, in addition to tracking efforts to avoid and minimize negative impacts.
- RE 4.3.3: Give preference to the utilization of existing infrastructure to minimize the need for additional transmission development.
- RE 4.3.4: Establish inspection protocols and programs to ensure that RE facilities are constructed, operated, and eventually decommissioned consistent with the requirements of the San Bernardino County Code, and in a manner that will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare.
Encourage siting, construction and screening of RE generation facilities to avoid, minimize or mitigate significant changes to the visual environment including minimizing light and glare.
- RE 4.4.1: Reduce visual impacts through a combination of minimized reflective surfaces, context sensitive color treatments, nature-oriented geometry, minimized vegetation clearing under and around arrays, conservation of pre-existing native plants, replanting of native plants as appropriate, maintenance of natural landscapes around the edges of facility complexes, and lighting design to minimize night-sky impacts, including attraction of and impact to nocturnal migratory birds
Require RE generation facility developers to provide and implement a decommissioning plan that provides for reclamation of the site to a condition at least as good as that which existed before the lands were disturbed or another appropriate end use that is stable (i.e. with interim vegetative cover), prevents nuisance, and is readily adaptable for alternative land uses. Decommissioning plans shall:
- RE 4.5.1: Include a cost estimate of the decommissioning and site restoration work for the purpose of providing a bond to guarantee completion of decommissioning.
- RE 4.5.2: Provide for an inspection after all decommissioning and site restoration work to ensure that the work has been completed to the standards required by the County, prior to release of the decommissioning bond.
- RE 4.5.3: Require any structures created during construction to be decommissioned and all material recycled to the greatest extent possible.
- RE 4.5.4: Require all material recovered during decommissioning and site restoration work of a renewable energy facility, including the renewable energy technology itself, to be reused or recycled to the greatest extent possible.
Require all recyclable electronic and/or toxic materials to be recycled in accordance with the requirements of the Basel Convention or comparable standard.Policy RE-4.7
RE project site selection and site design shall be guided by the following priorities relative to habitat conservation and mitigation:
- Avoid sensitive habitat, including wildlife corridors, during site selection and project design.
- Where necessary and feasible, conduct mitigation on-site.
- When on-site habitat mitigation is not possible or adequate, establish mitigation off-site in an area designated for habitat conservation.
Encourage mitigation for RE generation facility projects to locate habitat conservation offsets on public lands where suitable habitat is available.
- RE 4.8.1: Collaborate with appropriate state and federal agencies to facilitate mitigation/habitat conservation activities on public lands
Encourage RE facility developers to design projects in ways that provide sanctuary (i.e., a safe place to nest, breed and/or feed) for native bees, butterflies and birds where feasible and appropriate, according to expert recommendations.Policy RE-4.10
Prohibit utility-oriented RE project development on sites that would create adverse impacts on the quality of life or economic development opportunities in existing unincorporated communities.
- RE 4.10.1: Prohibit development of utility-oriented RE projects in the Rural Living land use districts throughout the County.
- RE 4.10.2: Prohibit development of utility-oriented RE projects within the boundaries of existing community plans, which at the time of adoption of this Element are the Bloomington, Muscoy, Bear Valley, Crest Forest, Hilltop, Lake Arrowhead, Lytle Creek, Oak Glen, Homestead Valley, Joshua Tree, Lucerne Valley, Morongo Valley, Oak Hills and Phelan/Pinon Hills Community Plans.
- RE 4.10.3: Establish exclusion areas in the Development Code regulations for renewable energy development, beginning with the prohibitions in Policies 4.10.1 and 4.10.2 and provide for additional exclusion areas, such as new community plan areas, to be designated by amendment to the Development Code.
Renewable energy facilities will be located in areas that meet County standards, local values, community needs and environmental and cultural resource protection prioritiesPolicy RE-5.1
Encourage the siting of RE generation facilities on disturbed or degraded sites in proximity to necessary transmission infrastructure.
- RE 5.1.1: Community-oriented RE generation facility sites may be less disturbed or degraded, but should contribute direct benefits to the communities they are intended to serve.
- RE 5.1.2: Siting of community-oriented and utility-oriented RE generation facilities will conform to applicable standards set forth in the Development Code.
- RE 5.1.3: Encourage new subdivision applications to set aside an area of land capable of supporting neighborhood-oriented renewable energy generation.
- RE 5.1.4: Encourage micro-grids supported by energy storage and innovative technologies for incorporation into neighborhood- and community-scale renewable energy projects.
Utility- oriented RE generation projects on private land in the unincorporated County will be limited to the site-type below, in addition to meeting criteria established herein and in the Development Code:
i. Private lands adjacent to the federal Development Focus Areas supported by the Board of Supervisors that meet siting criteria and development standardsPolicy RE-5.3
ii. Waste Disposal Sites
iii. Mining Sites (operating and reclaimed)
iv. Fallow, degraded and unviable agricultural lands
v. Airports (existing and abandoned or adaptively re-used)
vii. California Department of Toxic Substance Control Cleanup Program Sites
viii. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Sites
ix. Sites within or adjacent to electric transmission and utility distribution corridors
x. Existing energy generation sites
xi. Industrial zones proven to not conflict with economic development needs
xii. Other sites proven by a detailed suitability analysis to reflect the significantly disturbed nature or conditions of those listed above
Collaborate with utilities and RE generation facility developers to encourage collocation of transmission and intertie facilities.Policy RE-5.4
Utility-oriented RE generation facilities will be required to meet a higher standard of evaluation for appropriate site selection due to its size and distance from population centers.
- RE 5.4.1: Establish a two-step application process for utility-oriented RE generation that evaluates site selection early in the planning process.
- RE 5.4.2: Encourage utility-oriented RE generation to occur in the five DRECP Development Focus Areas (DFAs) that were supported by the Board of Supervisors on February 17, 2016, Resolution No. 2016-20 and on adjacent private lands.
- RE 5.4.3: Direct utility-oriented RE generation facilities that may require transmission upgrades to seek sites within existing transmission corridors.
Coordinate with the Department of Defense on the siting of RE generation facilities in a manner that will not significantly impact military operations in the unincorporated county.Policy RE-5.6
Consult Native American tribes early in the site selection process, with joint evaluation of a Phase 1 Cultural Resources Analysis prior to approval of a site for utility-oriented RE generation.Policy RE-5.7
Support renewable energy projects that are compatible with protection of the scenic and recreational assets that define San Bernardino County for its residents and make it a destination for tourists.
- RE 5.7.1: Site RE generation facilities in a manner that will avoid, minimize or substantially mitigate adverse impacts to sensitive habitats, cultural resources, surrounding land uses, and scenic viewsheds
Discourage conversion of productive or viable prime agricultural lands to RE generation facilities.Policy RE-5.9
Collaborate with utilities, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to plan for RE generation facilities to be located on public lands, apart from existing unincorporated communities.
County regulatory systems will ensure that renewable energy facilities are designed, sited, developed, operated and decommissioned in ways compatible with our communities, natural environment, and applicable environmental and cultural resource protection lawsPolicy RE-6.1
Ensure consistency, clarity, and timeliness in the development permitting process for RE generation facilities.
- RE 6.1.1: Expedite the permitting process for accessory and community-oriented RE generation facilities
- RE 6.1.2: Provide public information to facilitate installation of accessory RE generation systems, including rooftop solar PV, solar water heaters, and accessory wind energy systems.
- RE 6.1.3: Establish Development Code standards for ground-mounted accessory RE generation facilities in residential areas and Rural Living land use designations to address issues of aesthetics, safety, flood risks, wind, and dust.
- RE 6.1.4: Establish procedures and standards in the Development Code for new RE project applications that clearly identify the environmental review process, design standards, and permit requirements.
Establish mechanisms by which the County can restore and maintain the nexus between costs and benefits in RE development.
- RE 6.2.1: Work with the federal and state governments that may approve renewable energy projects on public lands, to seek appropriate revenue mechanisms to cover the cost of services provided by the County.
- RE 6.2.2: Maintain a fee system that adequately covers the County’s costs of providing necessary public services to renewable energy generation facility developers during permitting, development, operations and decommissioning.
Share information and communicate the costs and benefits of investing in energy efficiency retrofits, energy conservation behaviors, and renewable energy systems.
- RE 6.3.1: Update the County’s renewable energy web portal to include information to publicize successes of community-oriented renewable energy (CORE) projects, sharing lessons learned, and encouraging duplication.
- RE 6.3.2: Participate in regional collaborative efforts such as the Countywide Vision working groups to identify, vet, and implement energy programs that are feasible at the regional scale but may not be feasible for one jurisdiction to implement independently, such as energy partnerships with utilities or regional education programs.
- RE 6.3.3: Promote opportunities for low-cost property financing for energy efficiency and onsite accessory RE generation through efforts, such as the PACE program, at County events and during the review of building permits and applications for building expansion or renovation.
Support the governor’s initiative to obtain 50% of the energy consumed in the state through RE generation sources by 2040.
- RE 6.4.1: Continue to implement policies and strategies for energy conservation by the County in the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan, including capture and use of landfill gas, installation of renewable energy systems and use of alternative fuels.
- RE 6.4.2: Consider options for entering into an energy services contract or power purchase agreement for expanding the renewable energy that serves County facilities while reducing the County’s overall utility costs.
- RE 6.4.3: Consider utilizing public/private partnerships to install onsite solar energy on County government facilities, sharing costs and benefits.
Encourage pilot projects to demonstrate energy efficiency retrofit investments and renewable energy opportunities.
- RE 6.5.1: Where feasible, install renewable energy projects on County facilities that provide visible, public examples of the County’s commitment to cost-effective renewable energy.
- RE 6.5.2: Consider utilizing County lands or facilities for research and development or university exploration of new renewable energy technologies that seek to minimize adverse effects to the environment.
- RE 6.5.3: Encourage development of a highly visible private property pilot project for the small-scale use of distributed renewable energy, such as projects at local tourist-serving uses.
- RE 6.5.4: Identify opportunities to create revenue for the County by leasing the rights to renewable energy resources on County property for distributed energy storage or distributed generation through power purchase agreements or similar arrangements.
Investigate new RE generation incentive programs, such as Community Choice Aggregation, for their appropriateness to our communities.
- RE 6.6.1: Promote incentives available to County residents and businesses for solar photovoltaic, solar water heating, wind energy, and bioenergy installations. Incentives may be offered by the County, federal agencies, other local and regional agencies, or private partners.
Induce high volume energy users to develop onsite RE generation systems through streamlining of permit requirements.