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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 9. Environment
Agency 15. Department Of Environmental Quality
Chapter 60. Small Renewable Energy Projects (Solar) Permit by Rule
4/20/2021

9VAC15-60-30. Application for permit by rule for solar energy projects with rated capacity greater than five megawatts and disturbance zone greater than 10 acres.

A. The owner or operator of a small solar energy project with a rated capacity greater than five megawatts and a disturbance zone greater than 10 acres, provided that the project does not otherwise meet the criteria for Part III (9VAC15-60-130 A or B) of this chapter, shall submit to the department a complete application in which he satisfactorily accomplishes all of the following:

1. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 1 of the Code of Virginia, and as early in the project development process as practicable, furnishes to the department a notice of intent, to be published in the Virginia Register, that he intends to submit the necessary documentation for a permit by rule for a small renewable energy project;

2. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 2 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department a certification by the governing body of the locality or localities wherein the small renewable energy project will be located that the project complies with all applicable land use ordinances;

3. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 3 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department copies of all interconnection studies undertaken by the regional transmission organization or transmission owner, or both, on behalf of the small renewable energy project;

4. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 4 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department a copy of the final interconnection agreement between the small renewable energy project and the regional transmission organization or transmission owner indicating that the connection of the small renewable energy project will not cause a reliability problem for the system. If the final agreement is not available, the most recent interconnection study shall be sufficient for the purposes of this section. When a final interconnection agreement is complete, it shall be provided to the department. The department shall forward a copy of the agreement or study to the State Corporation Commission;

5. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 5 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department a certification signed by a professional engineer licensed in Virginia that the maximum generation capacity of the small solar energy project, as designed, does not exceed 150 megawatts;

6. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 6 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department an analysis of potential environmental impacts of the small renewable energy project's operations on attainment of national ambient air quality standards;

7. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 7 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department, where relevant, an analysis of the beneficial and adverse impacts of the proposed project on natural resources. The owner or operator shall perform the analyses prescribed in 9VAC15-60-40. For wildlife, that analysis shall be based on information on the presence, activity, and migratory behavior of wildlife to be collected at the site for a period of time dictated by the site conditions and biology of the wildlife being studied, not exceeding 12 months;

8. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 8 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department a mitigation plan pursuant to 9VAC15-60-60 that details reasonable actions to be taken by the owner or operator to avoid, minimize, or otherwise mitigate such impacts, and to measure the efficacy of those actions; provided, however, that the provisions of this subdivision shall only be required if the department determines, pursuant to 9VAC15-60-50, that the information collected pursuant to § 10.1-1197.6 B 7 of the Code of Virginia and 9VAC15-60-40 indicates that significant adverse impacts to wildlife or historic resources are likely. The mitigation plan shall be an addendum to the operating plan of the solar energy project, and the owner or operator shall implement the mitigation plan as deemed complete and adequate by the department. The mitigation plan shall be an enforceable part of the permit by rule;

9. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 9 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department a certification signed by a professional engineer licensed in Virginia that the project is designed in accordance with 9VAC15-60-80;

10. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 10 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department an operating plan that includes a description of how the project will be operated in compliance with its mitigation plan, if such a mitigation plan is required pursuant to 9VAC15-60-50;

11. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 11 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department a detailed site plan meeting the requirements of 9VAC15-60-70;

12. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 12 of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department a certification signed by the applicant that the small solar energy project has applied for or obtained all necessary environmental permits;

13. In accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 H and I of the Code of Virginia, furnishes to the department a certification signed by the applicant that the small solar energy project is being proposed, developed, constructed, or purchased by a person that is not a utility regulated pursuant to Title 56 of the Code of Virginia or provides certification that (i) the project's costs are not recovered from Virginia jurisdictional customers under base rates, a fuel factor charge, or a rate adjustment clause, or (ii) the applicant is a utility aggregation cooperative formed under Article 2 (§ 56-231.38 et seq.) of Chapter 9.1 of Title 56 of the Code of Virginia;

14. Prior to authorization of the project and in accordance with § 10.1-1197.6 B 13 and B 14 of the Code of Virginia, conducts a 30-day public review and comment period and holds a public meeting pursuant to 9VAC15-60-90. The public meeting shall be held in the locality or, if the project is located in more than one locality, in a place proximate to the location of the proposed project. Following the public meeting and public comment period, the applicant shall prepare a report summarizing the issues raised by the public and include any written comments received and the applicant's response to those comments. The report shall be provided to the department as part of this application; and

15. In accordance with 9VAC15-60-110, furnishes to the department the appropriate fee.

B. Within 90 days of receiving all of the required documents and fees listed in subsection A of this section, the department shall determine, after consultation with other agencies in the Secretariat of Natural Resources, whether the application is complete and whether it adequately meets the requirements of this chapter pursuant to § 10.1-1197.7 A of the Code of Virginia.

1. If the department determines that the application meets the requirements of this chapter, then the department shall notify the applicant in writing that he is authorized to construct and operate a small solar energy project pursuant to this chapter.

2. If the department determines that the application does not meet the requirements of this chapter, then the department shall notify the applicant in writing and specify the deficiencies.

3. If the applicant chooses to correct deficiencies in a previously submitted application, the department shall follow the procedures of this subsection and notify the applicant whether the revised application meets the requirements of this chapter within 60 days of receiving the revised application.

4. Any case decision by the department pursuant to this subsection shall be subject to the process and appeal provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq. of the Code of Virginia).

Statutory Authority

§ 10.1-1197.6 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 28, Issue 21, eff. July 18, 2012; amended, Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 20, eff. July 1, 2017.

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