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Commonwealth's Counties

Senate Approves Bill Preempting Local Authority on Siting Solar and Battery Storage Facilities

By a vote of 21-18, the Senate of Virginia passed SB 697 (Van Valkenburg). The legislation mandates that any local ordinance adopted pursuant § 15.2-2288.7 of the Code of Virginia (local regulation of solar facilities) shall not  “… include limits on the total amount, density, or size of any ground mounted solar facility or energy facility unless the total panel area exceeds 4% of the total area within the county.”

SB 697 is now headed to the House of Delegates for further consideration. VACo strongly opposes the legislation.

Action required – Contact members of the House of Delegates (2-Part Email List – Delegates 1 | Delegates 2) to vote “NO” on SB 697.


  • Utility-scale solar and battery storage are in effect largescale power plants, many of which may have oversized footprints. For example, a solar facility with a generating capacity of 100 MW can occupy 1,000 acres or more of land.
  • According to data collected by the Virginia Department of Energy, 68 counties, 8 cities and 6 towns have approved 259 utility-scale solar projects totaling 11,635 megawatts (MW) of power capacity. This represents approximately 180 square miles approved for solar energy production.
  • The state should not place limits on local ordinances to permit these facilities, regardless of the total amount, density, or size of such projects.

VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP

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