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Commonwealth's Counties

Important solar siting agreement plan bill heads to Governor’s desk

An important bill relating to local governments and siting agreements for solar energy facilities has cleared both the Senate and House of Delegates and will now be sent to Governor Northam.

HB 1675 (Hodges) requires any applicant seeking to locate a commercial solar energy or storage facility on any census tract meeting the eligibility requirements for an opportunity zone as designated by the federal Internal Revenue Service to execute a siting agreement with the host locality in which the census tract is located, prior to the issuance of a permit by rule or certificate of public need. The bill grants localities various powers in executing such siting agreement and contains certain requirements for the agreement provisions. The bill does not apply to any solar photovoltaic (electric energy) generation or storage facility that has received zoning or site plan approval, preliminary or otherwise, from the host locality on or before January 1, 2020.

Simply put, HB 1675 essentially seeks to mimic the siting agreement process that localities already use for landfills.

This bill previously passed the House of Delegates on February 6 by a vote of 89-7, and on February 26 passed the Senate with amendments by a vote of 40-0.  Late last week, the House reconsidered the legislation and ultimately voted to approve the substitute language by a 90-7-1 vote.  HB 1675 will now be acted upon by the Governor.

VACo supported HB 1675 and spoke in favor of this important legislation throughout the General Assembly session.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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