DESERT HOT SPRINGS – Bob Hersh owns a dog kennel and ranch near Desert Hot Springs. He wanted to cut his power bills, so he contracted a windmill construction company to build a small turbine in his large backyard.
Several months and $12,000 in county fees, permits, and engineering studies later, Riverside County still will not allow Hersh to build a windmill.
When we ask, “Are you afraid you’ll never get a windmill built in your backyard?”
Hersh’s answer is, “I’m hoping so because we’re so deep into it that they’ll have to go through with these ones but I wouldn’t blame them if they never do business here again.”
We’re not talking about building 400 foot tall giant windmills. We’re talking something more reasonable: 72 feet tall, producing enough energy to power one home.
The windmill company is even more frustrated saying Riverside County puts up more obstacles on green energy than any other county nationwide.
Manager Melissa Dale with Farm Boy Energy says, “Riverside County is the first county that I’ve had to worry about Fish and Game fees. In regards to wind turbines.”
We ask, “Why is that?”
Dale responds, “That’s what I said. We’re not going in a pond and we’re not on an animal preserve, so what is that all about? We’ve returned down payments to other customers in Riverside County and I’ve had other people from Riverside County contact is to get turbines. We’ve actually turned them away. We’ve told them we don’t want to go there, it’s just too long and costs too much. We would have to charge the customers so much money that nobody wants to do that.”
It took even less time and money for the same company to build a larger windmill just one mile away from Chicago’s busy O’Hare Airport.
Riverside County Assistant Planning Director Damian Meins explains, “We are currently in the process of a comprehensive review and revision of Ordinance No. 348, which will include Section 18.42. We recognize that the current standards need to be updated to acknowledge the improvements to technology and the current focus on renewable energy. We would welcome communications from the industry to collaboratively work to make appropriate revision to the processes and standards.”