CPX Editor’s Note: San Bernardino County District 1 Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood wrote the Victorville Daily Press to lay out the county’s plan for future growth. Supervisor Lovingood mentions Community Choice Aggregation as a way for the county and its residents to save money and create jobs in the process. Please read about the county’s economic development goals here, and click the link at the end of the article if you wish to read on.
San Bernardino County is the pathway of future growth in California. The state faces some serious challenges, but I believe each challenge also provides an opportunity to improve our regional economy and quality of life for our residents.
As Chair of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, my colleagues, Supervisors Rutherford, Ramos, Hagman and Gonzales, all have strong entrepreneurial and private-sector credentials. As leaders, we highly value job-creators and are committed to pro-business, pro-growth policies here in San Bernardino County.
We know that government doesn’t create jobs. But it does create the conditions that encourage or discourage economic growth. Our focus is on freeing the economy to provide greater opportunity and prosperity for all. So at the County level, we are rolling out five interconnected goals that, working together, form a proven plan for growth.
Specifically, the five points are:
• Enhance County Land Use Services;
• Increase public safety funding;
• Expand technical training;
• Re-target economic development;
• Increase infrastructure.
Technical training dove-tails with economic development. While California’s infamous regulatory environment is a burden to many businesses, San Bernardino County and the High Desert in particular, have much to offer. We have an available workforce, affordable land and housing, clean air and pro-business local governments. We also have interstate freeways, rail lines and airports to move cargo anywhere in the nation or world without the gridlock experienced in L.A.
Another initiative is to assist residents and manufacturers by lowering electric rates through a Community Choice Aggregation project. Under a CCA, the County would develop one or more solar projects and negotiate wholesale electric power agreements to provide discounted electricity to customers. CCAs currently operate in 1,300 communities in seven states. In California, the City of Lancaster and the counties of Marin and Sonoma have done a good job. CCAs provide competition that helps lower electrical rates. This will help both residential customers and prospective employers.
For more than a decade, the Public Utilities Commission has restructured electric rates. The warmer inland areas (which depend on air conditioning in the summer) pay higher tiered rates for higher electric consumption. The average summer electric bill in the southern coastal areas is $113, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. But in the desert, the average summer electric bill is $172 per month – 52 percent higher. That higher cost comes on the backs of the hard working families of San Bernardino County who can least afford to subsidize coastal areas.
The result is that inland regions in effect subsidize the cooler coastal households that use far less air-conditioning and therefore have lower electric costs under lower tiers. But it is the sunny, inland areas that are ground zero for massive solar projects. So we will begin advocating for legislative and regulatory reforms to compensate inland communities that bear all the downside of solar projects without enjoying lower rates or other benefits.
Solar projects will continue to find a home in San Bernardino County, which leads the state in generation of solar-thermal power. Unlike neighboring Riverside County, San Bernardino County does not charge an annual fee on large solar projects. Solar projects on federal land pay no property tax to the county. And projects on private land pay only nominal property tax. So it’s time to consider an annual solar parcel fee to compensate the community for the impacts they create.
In unincorporated areas, the County collects a hotel bed tax, which goes into the general fund. In the interest of fairness and economic development, we propose earmarking bed tax revenue to benefit the community of origin to promote local events that attract tourist dollars.
Continue reading the rest of the five goals by clicking the link below.