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Solar groups sue to quash 'sun tax' in Riverside County

February 06, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Solar development companies are fighting against an annual fee imposed by Riverside County. The industry says that the so-called sun tax is illegal.
Solar development companies are fighting against an annual fee imposed… (Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles…)

Two solar industry trade groups are going to court to try to squash a development fee – which they’ve dubbed the “sun tax” -- for alternative energy projects in Riverside County.

The Independent Energy Producers Assn. and the Large-Scale Solar Assn. claim in a lawsuit filed in Riverside County Superior Court that the $450-per-acre annual charge is illegal and will “chill solar development in the best location in the state.”

Riverside County officials say the payment, which would be imposed on major solar installations in the country, helps the region recover from the effects of green development. Supervisors unanimously passed the measure in November.

But plaintiffs say there’s no clear link between the fee and the purported effects of solar projects on the county and should therefore be referred to as a tax that must first be approved by voters.

"In order for California to meet its renewable energy objectives and take real strides toward energy independence, the solar industry needs to be nurtured, not attacked by illegal county policies," said Jan Smutny-Jones, executive director of the IEP.

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