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Solar charges make Kern 'whole' in state tax dispute

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This photovoltaic project, 8minute Solar Energy's 121-megawatt-dc Springbok 3 Solar Farm, was completed in 2019 in eastern Kern County. It is the final phase of a 1,500-acre project begun in 2015 that provides enough electricity to power more than 150,000 homes in the Los Angeles area.

In a partial resolution to one of Kern's biggest money disputes with Sacramento, county government has put a system in place that helps make up revenue the county misses out on because the state exempts solar power developers from paying full property taxes on large-scale photovoltaic projects.

A little-noticed policy the county first applied last year to solar projects' environmental reviews charges most developers $550 per acre yearly, for an annual tax bill totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, to compensate for the cost of providing public safety, roads and other services to the surrounding area. Different charges apply if the project sells to a public agency or utility.