Rising energy prices in the last few years have sent some Hesperians to city hall, looking for clarification on how they can wean themselves off the electric grid. At their latest meeting, the city council gave it to them.


The Hesperia City Council voted Tuesday night to approve new rules outlining the use of both windmills and solar power by residents and businesses.


"I don't believe in any of this global warming," Councilwoman Rita Vogler said, during deliberations, "I don't believe in it. But I do believe in being [energy] independent."


"All of these deals are not about our preference," said Mayor Pro Tem Paul Bosacki, "But it's about what the people in Hesperia and what they want to do. ... If they want to put up a windmill, they should be able to."


Any resident living in single-family residential, rural residential or agricultural districts will be able to erect a windmill tower in their backyard, with some restrictions: The windmill has to be erected on a lot of at least 15,000 square feet, it has to be placed a distance of at least 1.1 times its height from any property lines and can be a maximum of 52.5 feet tall.


"The whole idea is that it doesn't fall across property lines," Dave Reno, the principal planner for the city of Hesperia, said Wednesday.


Windmill towers can also be erected in apartment complexes and in commercial and industrial developments, but the city's planning commission will have to review the plan for the apartment or commercial properties.


Windmills can be mounted on the roofs of commercial and industrial buildings, subject to a revised site plan review. They can be 50 feet high, or higher, if the local zoning permits taller structures.


That height shouldn't present a noise problem for neighbors, according to Reno. The city has a windmill of its own located in Hesperia Civic Park, behind city hall.


"That windmill out here is 41.5 feet high. ... It would be allowed on most 100-foot lots," said Reno. The windmill's noise can be heard "30 or 40 feet of it. ... Yes, you can perceive it, but it's no louder than the wind that's already blowing."


Solar panels mounted on roofs will also require site plan reviews, and for residential and agricultural properties, they'll typically have to be mounted facing away from the street. Revised site plan reviews will be required for all roof-mounted solar panels.


Ground-mounted solar panels are allowed, but the city will try to steer property owners away from them, if possible.


"If the roof location doesn't work for you, then we'll consider alternatives on the ground, or other places," said Reno. "If the roof is the best place, that's where we're going to ask you to put it."


Bosacki put up solar panels he leased from a Northern California company last fall.


"Since I installed it in September, I haven't had any [Southern California Edison electrical] bill to pay," he said. The councilman pays $89 a month to lease the solar panels, as compared to $120 for his average electrical bill before that. "At the end of the year, if I generate more electricity than I use, I should get a check from Edison."


But Bosacki's vote -- the council approved the policies by unanimous votes -- was more about getting out of the way of property owners than alternative energy.


"I don't expect everyone in the neighborhood up here to throw windmills up, but if they want to, and they have the money to do it, then the city should encourage it," he said, "And not interfere with people's property rights."


The next regular meeting of the Hesperia City Council will take place on Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Hesperia City Hall, 9700 Seventh Avenue.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star