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Commonwealth's Counties

VACo opposes stripping counties of authority to address impacts of massive solar projects

SB 1398 (Stanley) and HB 2621 (Ingram) take away the authority of local elected officials to negotiate the terms and conditions for restoration of property upon the removal (aka decommissioning) of “certified solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices” installed for utility-scale solar projects. This includes not only solar panels, but any related battery storage devices.

Action Required – VACo Members please contact your legislators on the Senate Local Government Committee to oppose SB 1398. Also please contact your Delegates on the House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee’s Subcommittee #2 to oppose HB 2621.

The legislation would only allow for addressing the terms of restoration at the site plan review process, long after a local governing body decides if the property in question is in conformance with the comprehensive land use plan and zoning ordinance. The measure also places strict limits on the removal requirements, such as limiting the depth of soil restoration to three feet and mandating that the salvage value of any equipment be credited towards financial assurance for any defaults in the obligation to remove the solar equipment.

Key Points

  • Existing and proposed utility-scale solar projects in Virginia range in size from a few hundred acres to more than 9 square miles in area.
  • Preservation of local authority to negotiate the terms of restoration upon removal solar energy equipment must be maintained.

Key Contacts

Senate Local Government Committee: Stanley (Chairman), Hanger, Marsden, Favola, Lewis, Surovell, DeSteph, Dunnavant, Chase, Sturtevant, McPike, Carrico, McClellan

House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee’s Subcommittee #2: Stolle (Chairman), Marshall, Hodges, Webert, McNamara, Mullin, Hayes, Roem, Ingram

VACo Contacts: Joe Lerch, AICP and Chris McDonald, Esq.

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