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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 9. Environment
Agency 15. Department of Environmental Quality
Chapter 40. Small Renewable Energy Projects (Wind) Permit by Rule

9VAC15-40-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Applicant" means the owner or operator who submits an application to the department for a permit by rule pursuant to this chapter.

"Coastal Avian Protection Zones" or "CAPZ" means the areas designated on the map of "Coastal Avian Protection Zones" generated on the department's Coastal GEMS geospatial data system (9VAC15-40-120 C 1).

"Department" means the Department of Environmental Quality, its director, or the director's designee.

"DCR" means the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

"DGIF" means the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

"Disturbance zone" means the area within the site directly impacted by construction and operation of the wind energy project, and within 100 feet of the boundary of the directly impacted area.

"Ecological core" means an area of nonfragmented forest, marsh, dune, or beach of ecological importance that is at least 100 acres in size and identified in DCR's Natural Landscape Assessment web-based application (9VAC15-40-120 C 2).

"Historic resource" means any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, object, or cultural landscape that is included or meets the criteria necessary for inclusion in the Virginia Landmarks Register pursuant to the authorities of § 10.1-2205 of the Code of Virginia and in accordance with 17VAC5-30-40 through 17VAC5-30-70.

"Important Bird Areas" means the designation of discrete sites by the National Audubon Society as having local, regional, continental, or global importance for birds because they support significant numbers of one or more high priority avian species (e.g., T&E, SGCN) during the breeding, wintering, or migration seasons.

"Interconnection point" means the point or points where the wind energy project connects to a project substation for transmission to the electrical grid.

"Invasive plant species" means non-native plant species that cause, or are likely to cause, economic or ecological harm or harm to human health as established by Presidential Executive Order 13112 (64 FR 6183, February 3, 1999) and contained on DCR's Invasive Alien Plant Species of Virginia (9VAC15-40-120 B 3).

"Migratory corridors" means major travel routes used by significant numbers of birds during biannual migrations between breeding and wintering grounds.

"Migratory staging areas" means those sites along migratory corridors where significant numbers of birds stop to feed and rest during biannual migrations between breeding and wintering grounds that are essential to successful migration.

"Natural heritage resource" means the habitat of rare, threatened, or endangered plant and animal species, rare or state significant natural communities or geologic sites, and similar features of scientific interest benefiting the welfare of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

"Nearshore waters" means all tidal waters within the Commonwealth of Virginia and seaward of the mean low-water shoreline to three nautical miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Operator" means the person responsible for the overall operation and management of a wind energy project.

"Other avian mitigation factors" means Important Bird Areas, migratory corridors, migratory staging areas, and wintering areas within the Coastal Avian Protection Zones.

"Owner" means the person who owns all or a portion of a wind energy project.

"Permit by rule" means provisions of the regulations stating that a project or activity is deemed to have a permit if it meets the requirements of the provision.

"Person" means any individual, partnership, firm, association, joint venture, public or private corporation, trust, estate, commission, board, public or private institution, utility, cooperative, county, city, town, or other political subdivision of the Commonwealth, any interstate body, or any other legal entity.

"Phase of a project" means one continuous period of construction, startup, and testing activity of the wind energy project. A phase is deemed complete when 90 calendar days have elapsed since the last previous wind turbine has been placed in service, except when a delay has been caused by a significant force majeure event, in which case a phase is deemed complete when 180 calendar days have elapsed since the last previous wind turbine has been placed in service.

"Post-construction" means any time after the last turbine on the wind energy project or phase of that project has been placed in service.

"Pre-construction" means any time prior to commencing land-clearing operations necessary for the installation of energy-generating structures at the small wind energy project.

"Rated capacity" means the maximum capacity of a wind energy project based on the sum total of each turbine's nameplate capacity.

"SGCN" or "species of greatest conservation need" means any vertebrate species so designated by DGIF as Tier 1 or Tier 2 in the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan (9VAC15-40-120 B 6).

"Site" means the area containing a wind energy project that is under common ownership or operating control. Electrical infrastructure and other appurtenant structures up to the interconnection point shall be considered to be within the site.

"Small renewable energy project" means (i) an electrical generation facility with a rated capacity not exceeding 150 megawatts that generates electricity only from sunlight or wind; (ii) an electrical generation facility with a rated capacity not exceeding 100 megawatts that generates electricity only from falling water, wave motion, tides, or geothermal power; or (iii) an electrical generation facility with a rated capacity not exceeding 20 megawatts that generates electricity only from biomass, energy from waste, or municipal solid waste.

"Small wind energy project," "wind energy project," or "project" means a small renewable energy project that (i) generates electricity from wind, consisting of one or more wind turbines and other accessory structures and buildings, including substations, post-construction meteorological towers, electrical infrastructure, and other appurtenant structures and facilities within the boundaries of the site; and (ii) is designed for, or capable of, operation at a rated capacity equal to or less than 150 megawatts. Two or more wind energy projects otherwise spatially separated but under common ownership or operational control, which are connected to the electrical grid under a single interconnection agreement, shall be considered a single wind energy project. Nothing in this definition shall imply that a permit by rule is required for the construction of meteorological towers to determine the appropriateness of a site for the development of a wind energy project.

"State-owned submerged lands" means lands that lie seaward of the mean low-water mark in tidal waters or that have an elevation below the ordinary mean high-water elevation in nontidal areas that are considered property of the Commonwealth pursuant to § 28.2-1200 of the Code of Virginia.

"T&E," "state threatened or endangered species," or "state-listed species" means any wildlife species designated as a Virginia endangered or threatened species by DGIF pursuant to §§ 29.1-563 through 29.1-570 of the Code of Virginia and 4VAC15-20-130.

"VLR" means the Virginia Landmarks Register (9VAC15-40-120 B 1).

"VLR-eligible" means those historic resources that meet the criteria necessary for inclusion on the VLR pursuant to 17VAC5-30-40 through 17VAC5-30-70 but are not listed in VLR.

"VLR-listed" means those historic resources that have been listed in the VLR in accordance with the criteria of 17VAC5-30-40 through 17VAC5-30-70.

"VMRC" means the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

"Wildlife" means wild animals; except, however, that T&E insect species shall only be addressed as part of natural heritage resources and shall not be considered T&E wildlife.

"Wintering areas" means those sites where a significant portion of the rangewide population of one or more avian species overwinter annually.

Statutory Authority

§ 10.1-1197.6 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 27, Issue 6, eff. December 22, 2010; amended, Virginia Register Volume 31, Issue 21, eff. July 30, 2015; Volume 33, Issue 20, eff. July 1, 2017.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

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