SAN BERNARDINO — A large crowd is expected to turn out Tuesday as the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors holds its last public hearing and is expected to vote on the Renewable Energy Conservation Element.

The hearing will be part of the Board's regular meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at Covington Chambers, First Floor, County Government Center, 385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino. Remote video conferencing will be available at the Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center, 15900 Smoke Tree St., Hesperia, and at the Bob Burke Joshua Tree County Government Center, 63665 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree.

The REC Element will become part of the county's General Plan and has been in the works since 2013, when it was originally referred to as SPARC, which stood for San Bernardino County Partnership for Renewable Energy and Conservation. Over the past few years, several forums were held and input was sought and obtained from various community groups. It quickly became evident that there needed to be two aspects to the REC Element, one that focused on Community Oriented Renewable Energy that benefited local cities and towns, and utility-oriented renewable energy projects that would produce energy for anywhere on the grid.

Through community forums and input, the county found that:

1) There was great preference for small-scale accessory solar and wind power over utility-oriented projects;

2) There were concerns about environmental quality, particularly stable desert soils, air quality and wildlife movement;

3) Community members expressed a strong desire to limit large-scale renewable energy development to disturbed lands rather than unspoiled desert landscape;

4) Chief among the land use compatibility concerns were those relating to dust control and water consumption during construction, as well as visual impacts.

The result of these forums was the county's REC Element focused on sustainable and responsible use of renewable energy. It emphasized the issues deemed important by local residents, including:

1) Community-oriented renewable energy that primarily benefits the local area is preferred, while utility-oriented projects face more stringent siting requirements;

2) Roof-top and parking lot solar projects are encouraged through simple permitting requirements;

3) Utility-oriented renewable energy projects are directed to the five Development Focus Areas previously supported by the Board (Trona, Hinkley, North Kramer, El Mirage and Amboy), as well as disturbed and degraded lands;

4) Utility-oriented renewable energy projects are prohibited in community plan areas and in the Rural Living land use district;

5) More specific siting requirements and development standards are referred to a regulatory update to the County Development Code.