California’s biggest county could severely restrict solar energy projects

Brian Hammer thought he and his wife would retire to the abandoned Lucerne Valley farmhouse they bought nearly a decade ago in the rural high desert northeast of Los Angeles. They paid the full $55,000 asking price, then rehabbed the house themselves, stripping it down and installing new wiring, plumbing and appliances. Now Hammer worries all that time and money was wasted. An energy developer is planning to build a 483-acre solar farm that Hammer says would come within a few dozen feet of his house. He doesn’t want to live next to an industrial energy project, which he says would destroy the area’s rural character, fuel dust storms and harm the Mojave Desert ecology. Those are common concerns among residents of rural San Bernardino County, who have been fighting for years to block large solar farms even as California ramps up its renewable energy targets.

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