Solar power plants burden host counties
November 26, 2012
With many California counties struggling to keep out of debt, several have embraced the development of solar power plants and the bounty of jobs and taxes windfalls they promise. [LATimes]
In Inyo County, officials grew giddy last year as they considered the proposed $2.7 billion Hidden Hills solar power. County officials estimated that property taxes from the facility would boost the general fund by 17 percent.
However, upon closer review, the picture was not so rosy. Fewer than 10 local workers would land permanent positions. And worse, the project would cost Inyo County $11 million to $12 million to upgrade a small two lane road. After the plant begins operation, the county estimated taxpayers will foot the bill for nearly $2 million a year in additional public safety and other services.
With two of the largest solar plants in the world under construction in San Bernardino County, local officials are not sure if revenue from the projects will offset the cost of additional fire and safety services, which analysts say will amount to millions of dollars a year, the LA Times said.
In San Luis Obispo County, construction of the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farm in the California Valley began in Nov. 2011 and is expected to wrap up in late 2014 or early 2015.
Meanwhile, much of Highway 58 on route to the plant has required upgrades to keep up with the increased traffic. At the same time, several long-time residents of rural Santa Margarita told CalCoastNews that workers driving home toss beer cans from their vehicles and regularly run several local stop signs.