Lucerne Valley residents share opinions on solar facilities
By KRIS REILLY, Editor
LUCERNE VALLEY • As solar energy projects make their way to Lucerne Valley, not everyone is welcoming them and not everyone is fighting them.
The Leader visited two Lucerne Valley homes last week, each of them located across the street from a proposed solar project. The residents’ views were on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Jo Richards and Lennart Tegman
It was a gorgeous afternoon, warm and clear, and Jo Richards sat on her porch looking out on Lucerne Valley and the snow-capped mountains to the south. She talked about the possibility that the field directly in front of her would one day be covered with solar panels.
“I see no great problem with it,” Richards said.
Richards and her partner of 27 years, Lennart Tegman, live near the proposed 900-acre Rabbits Springs solar project. She’s had discussions with people from Edison Mission Group, the former owner of the project, and she has no major
According to the officials she’s spoken with, the panels would stand about four to five feet off the ground and will not obstruct her view of the mountains in the distance.
They’ll require no water and make no noise. They’ll be non-reflective and won’t cause any noticeable temperature differences, officials said.
Richards is a bit worried now that the project has changed hands (see sidebar), but officials from the new owners, First Solar, said they don’t anticipate any changes to the plans.
Richards and Tegman noted that at one time the property’s owners were considering building a drug rehab facility. They both said they’d prefer the solar panels.
They’re generally supportive of renewable energy and they don’t mind having it in their proverbial backyard (in this case it’s actually their front yard).
“I wouldn’t want to see a field of windmills, but the solar is a different,” Richards said. “We’ve got to suck it up. What we can do, I think we should do. ... Everybody says Lucerne Valley is not going to get anything from this. But somebody someplace else has sucked it up and we’re getting our energy from them.”
The Peck Family
Several miles away from Richards and Tegman, Jessica and Brian Peck live with their four children on a spacious, quiet lot on Meridian Road north of Haynes Road.
When they moved here from Rancho Cucamonga four years ago, it wasn’t long after a heavy rain season and the vacant field across the street was a lush green.
Jessica Peck fears she’ll never see that again.
Boulevard Associates, LLC, has acquired the parcel across the street and has put in an application with San Bernardino County to build a 440-acre solar energy facility.
Peck said this project would use water from a well on the lot (which could make a considerable amount of noise) and the panels might stand as high as 8 feet. Chema Ude, a project planner for the county, could not confirm the height of the panels as of press time on Monday.
He did say the panels would have to be washed, but only about once a month.
Peck said the rural atmosphere was one of the things that drew her family to the area. Now, her front yard may overlook a field of photovoltaic panels.
If the project is built, she’d consider moving to get away from it — but she fears that the facility will devalue her property and make it almost impossible to sell.
“I’m furious,” Peck said. “There’s open land all the way to Barstow; there’s open land all the way to Vegas. Why do they have to build this right across the street from people’s homes?”
The Pecks have sent their comments to the county, which has not yet ruled on a conditional use permit for the project. The deadline for public comments on the Meridian Road project has been pushed back to Jan. 29.
The deadline for the Rabbit Springs project was last month; however the county will still accept public comments up until the time of the decision, Ude said. He said hearing dates had not been set for either project.
Ude added that people who live in adjacent properties were the only ones who were sent notices about the projects, but any Lucerne Valley resident is welcome to submit comments.
The best way to do this, Ude said, is to send a letter to San Bernardino County Land Use Services Department/Planning Division, 385 North Arrowhead Avenue, First Floor, San Bernardino, CA, 92415-0182.
Kris Reilly can be reached at email@example.com or at (760) 985-8372.