The Voice of the

Commonwealth's Counties

VACo opposes legislation giving local land use authority to SCC for the siting of utility-scale solar, wind, and energy storage projects

HB 636 (Sullivan) and SB 567 (Deeds) propose giving the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) the authority to override local comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances for the siting of utility-scale solar, wind and battery storage facilities. The legislation sets up the process for applicants to essentially bypass local planning commissions and boards of supervisors when seeking approval for the siting and operations of solar projects with a rated generation capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) or more, wind projects of 100 MW or more, and energy storage facilities of 50 MW or more.

Contact your legislators today to Oppose HB 636 and SB 567.

The bills modify the current law regarding the host site agreement that an applicant must seek when proposing a utility-scale solar or battery storage facility. Specifically, the bills propose to:

  • To include “wind energy facilities” (turbines) that produce energy for sale to the requirement to apply for a siting agreement with the host locality.
  • Within the 30 days of the initial meeting to discuss the siting agreement, the locality must notify the applicant if they have a “compatible renewable energy ordinance”. The legislation then defines the parameters of what qualifies as a compatible renewable energy ordinance with specific limitations on what a locality can require regarding facility setbacks, height and other design and operating features. The result is one statewide ordinance for all jurisdictions to follow.
  • If the locality fails to act on the application within a specified time, or if it denies the application for land use approval, even though such application complies with minimum requirements of the statewide ordinance, then it may apply for approval from the SCC. If the SCC approves the application, then it “shall be exempt from obtaining approvals or permits, including any land use approvals or permits under the regulation and ordinances of the host locality.”

Contact your Delegate and Senator to vote “NO” on HB 636 and SB 567.

KEY POINTS

  • Utility-scale energy projects such as solar, wind, 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.
  • Local review and approval of utility-scale solar, wind and battery storage projects are necessary to determine if the use and location are consistent with a locality’s land use goals and objectives. The state should not usurp local authority to determine how such facilities fit within local landscapes.

VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP

Share This
Recent Posts
Categories