Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) is seeking
public comment on whether it should amend the current state
regulations governing permits by rule for small solar projects.
is an invitation to comment on possible future amendments to the
program and does not outline specific proposed changes. It does,
however, identify topics on which comments are being solicited.
In 2012, VDEQ adopted a regulation, called "Permit by Rule"
(PBR), which established requirements for small solar projects that
would facilitate issuance of permits required to develop such
projects. The PBR allows solar projects of 150 MW or less to receive
approval from the VDEQ to construct and operate the solar project
through an expedited permitting process, rather than obtaining
approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
over 5 MW or covering more than ten acres are required to apply for
approval from VDEQ, based on compliance with the project
requirements imposed by the PBR. In that process, VDEQ reviews,
among other things, environmental impacts and compliance with land
use and environmental requirements.
The current notice
indicates VDEQ is considering amending the PBR program but does not
propose specific amendments. Instead, VDEQ has identified topics for
possible public comment, including the possibility of amending the
PBR program to clarify certain definitions, timeframes for data
submittals and recordkeeping activities, requirements for natural
and cultural resource studies, public participation procedures and
the fee structure that funds the program. As part of a statewide
mandate to analyze impacts upon small business, VDEQ is also seeking
comment on whether the regulation (i) is necessary for the
protection of public health, safety and welfare or for the
economical performance of important governmental functions; (ii)
minimizes the economic impact on small businesses; (iii) is designed
to achieve its intended objective in the most efficient,
cost-effective manner; (iv) is clearly written and easily
understandable; (v) overlaps, duplicates or conflicts with federal
or state law or regulation; and (vi) is impacted by changes in
technology, economic conditions or other factors in the area
affected by the regulation since the previous review.
comments responding to VDEQ's notice are due on June 26, 2019, and
may be filed on Virginia's Regulatory Town Hall website.
public comment period ends, VDEQ plans to form a committee to review
and propose changes to the PBR regulations, at which time additional
comments are likely to be solicited.
2019 Amendments Solar PBR, http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewAction.cfm?actionid=5216
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall,
Small Solar Renewable Energy Projects Permit Regulation, http://townhall.virginia.gov/L/comments.cfm?stageid=8519