Hot Purple Energy solar technicians Gabe Rueda, right, and Enrique Perez install solar panels on the roof of a home in south Palm Springs on Sept. 28, 2015.

Riverside County took a big step Tuesday toward ordering the Imperial Irrigation District to bring back a popular rooftop solar program known as net metering, although the county’s legal strategy is likely to be challenged in court.

In a 4-0 vote, county supervisors approved an ordinance from Supervisor V. Manuel Perez that would require IID to offer net metering in unincorporated parts of Riverside County, including Bermuda Dunes, Mecca, Thermal and Thousand Palms. The solar measure is based on a section of the California Water Code that says water districts that sell electricity outside of their water service boundaries can be regulated by cities and counties in those outside areas. IID provides water and electricity in Imperial County, and is also the electric utility for 95,000 homes and businesses in the Coachella Valley.

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