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Commonwealth's Counties

VACo Opposes Legislation Mandating Localities to Approve Utility-Scale Solar and Battery Storage Facilities

SB 697 (Van Valkenburg) requires localities to permit utility-scale solar and energy storage facilities as a “special exception” per 15.2-2288.8 of Virginia Code and to develop an ordinance that establishes “reasonable criteria and requirements” for the siting of utility-scale solar and battery storage projects. Additionally, the legislation states that such reasonable criteria and requirements “…shall not include limits on the total amount, density, or size of solar and storage facilities that can be developed.”

The legislation effectively requires counties to permit any application, regardless of the cumulative impact of such facilities, so long as the requirements of a local ordinance with “reasonable” criteria are met.

Although not scheduled yet, SB 697 may be considered in the Senate Local Government Committee on Monday, January 29.

Action required – Contact members of Senate Local Government Committee to vote “NO” on SB 697 

KEY POINTS

  • 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.
  • The state should not require counties to permit these facilities, regardless of the total amount, density, or size of such projects.

VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP

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