Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
11/29/2021

Chapter 60. Small Renewable Energy Projects (Solar) Permit by Rule

Part I
Definitions and Applicability

9VAC15-60-10. 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.

"Archive search" means a search of DHR's cultural resource inventory for the presence of previously recorded archaeological sites and for architectural structures and districts.

"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 (9VAC15-60-120 C 1).

"Concentrating photovoltaics" or "CPV" means PV systems with equipment to focus or direct sunlight on the PV cells. For purposes of this chapter, CPV is included in the definition of PV.

"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.

"DHR" means the Department of Historic Resources.

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

"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.

"Integrated PV" means photovoltaics incorporated into building materials, such as shingles.

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

"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.

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

"Other solar technologies" means materials or devices or methodologies of producing electricity from sunlight other than PV or CPV.

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

"Parking lot" means an improved area, usually divided into individual spaces and covered with pavement or gravel, intended for the parking of motor vehicles.

"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.

"Photovoltaic" or "PV" means materials and devices that absorb sunlight and convert it directly into electricity by semiconductors.

"Photovoltaic cell" or "PV cell" means a solid state device that converts sunlight directly into electricity. PV cells may be connected together to form PV modules, which in turn may be combined and connected to form PV arrays (often called PV panels).

"Photovoltaic system" or "PV system" means PV cells, which may be connected into one or more PV modules or arrays, including any appurtenant wiring, electric connections, mounting hardware, power-conditioning equipment (inverter), and storage batteries.

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

"Rated capacity" means the maximum capacity of a solar energy project based on Photovoltaic USA Test Conditions (PVUSA Test Conditions) rating.

"Site" means the area containing a solar 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 solar energy project," "solar energy project," or "project" means a small renewable energy project that (i) generates electricity from sunlight, consisting of one or more PV systems 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 solar 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 solar energy project. Nothing in this definition shall imply that a permit by rule is required for the construction of test structures to determine the appropriateness of a site for the development of a solar energy project.

"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 the §§ 29.1-563 through 29.1-570 of the Code of Virginia and 4VAC15-20-130.

"VLR" means the Virginia Landmarks Register (9VAC15-60-120 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.

"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.

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.

9VAC15-60-20. Authority and applicability.

A. This regulation is issued under authority of Article 5 (§ 10.1-1197.5 et seq.) of Chapter 11.1 of Title 10.1 of the Code of Virginia. The regulation contains requirements for solar-powered electric generation projects consisting of PV systems and associated facilities with a single interconnection to the electrical grid that are designed for, or capable of, operation at a rated capacity equal to or less than 150 megawatts.

B. The department has determined that a permit by rule is required for small solar energy projects with a rated capacity greater than five megawatts and a disturbance zone greater than 10 acres, provided that the projects do not otherwise meet the criteria for Part III (9VAC15-60-130) of this chapter, and this regulation contains the permit by rule provisions for these projects in Part II (9VAC15-60-30 et seq.) of this chapter.

C. The department has determined that different provisions should apply to projects that meet the criteria as set forth in Part III (9VAC15-60-130) of this chapter, and this regulation contains the requirements, if any, for these projects in Part III (9VAC15-60-130 A and B) of this chapter. Projects that meet the criteria for Part III of this chapter are deemed to be covered by the permit by rule.

D. The department has determined that small renewable energy projects utilizing other solar technologies shall fulfill all of the requirements in 9VAC15-40 as prescribed for small wind energy projects, unless (i) the owner or operator of the proposed project presents to the department information indicating that the other solar technology presents no greater likelihood of significant adverse impacts to natural resources than does PV technology and (ii) the department determines that it is appropriate for the proposed project utilizing the other solar technology to meet the requirements of this chapter or of some modification to either 9VAC15-40 or this chapter, as prescribed by the department for that particular project.

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.

Part II
Permit by Rule Provisions

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 and Historic 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; Volume 38, Issue 4, eff. November 10, 2021.

9VAC15-60-40. Analysis of the beneficial and adverse impacts on natural resources.

A. Analyses of wildlife. To fulfill the requirements of § 10.1-1197.6 B 7 of the Code of Virginia, the applicant shall conduct preconstruction wildlife analyses. The analyses of wildlife shall include the following:

1. Desktop surveys and maps. The applicant shall obtain a wildlife report and map generated from DGIF's Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service web-based application (9VAC15-60-120 C 3) or from a data and mapping system including the most recent data available from DGIF's subscriber-based Wildlife Environmental Review Map Service of the following: (i) known wildlife species and habitat features on the site or within two miles of the boundary of the site and (ii) known or potential sea turtle nesting beaches located within one-half mile of the disturbance zone.

2. Desktop map for avian resources in Coastal Avian Protection Zones (CAPZ). The applicant shall consult the "Coastal Avian Protection Zones" map generated on the department's Coastal GEMS geospatial data system (9VAC15-60-120 C 1) and determine whether the proposed solar energy project site will be located in part or in whole within one or more CAPZ.

B. Analyses of historic resources. To fulfill the requirements of § 10.1-1197.6 B 7 of the Code of Virginia, the applicant shall also conduct a preconstruction historic resources analysis. The analysis shall be conducted by a qualified professional meeting the professional qualification standards of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Archeology and Historic Preservation (9VAC15-60-120 B 2) in the appropriate discipline. The analysis shall include each of the following:

1. Compilation of known historic resources. The applicant shall gather information on known historic resources within the disturbance zone and within one-half mile of the disturbance zone boundary and present this information on the context map referenced in 9VAC15-60-70 B, or as an overlay to this context map, as well as in tabular format.

2. Architectural survey. The applicant shall conduct a field survey of all architectural resources, including cultural landscapes, 50 years of age or older within the disturbance zone and within one-half mile of the disturbance zone boundary and evaluate the eligibility of any identified resource for listing in the VLR.

3. Archaeological survey. The applicant shall conduct an archaeological field survey of the disturbance zone and evaluate the eligibility of any identified archaeological site for listing in the VLR. As an alternative to performing this archaeological survey, the applicant may make a demonstration to the department that the project will utilize nonpenetrating footings technology and that any necessary grading of the site prior to construction does not have the potential to adversely impact any archaeological resource.

C. Analyses of other natural resources. To fulfill the requirements of § 10.1-1197.6 B 7 of the Code of Virginia, the applicant shall also conduct a preconstruction desktop survey of natural heritage resources within the disturbance zone.

D. Summary report. The applicant shall provide to the department a report presenting the findings of the studies and analyses conducted pursuant to subsections A, B, and C of this section, along with all data and supporting documents. The applicant shall assess and describe the expected beneficial and adverse impacts, if any, of the proposed project on wildlife and historic resources identified by these studies and analyses.

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.

9VAC15-60-50. Determination of likely significant adverse impacts.

A. The department shall find that significant adverse impacts to wildlife are likely whenever the wildlife analyses prescribed in 9VAC15-60-40 A document that any of the following conditions exists:

1. State-listed T&E wildlife are found to occur within the disturbance zone or the disturbance zone is located on or within one-half mile of a known or potential sea turtle nesting beach.

2. The disturbance zone is located in part or in whole within zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, or 14 on the Coastal Avian Protection Zones (CAPZ) map.

B. The department shall find that significant adverse impacts to historic resources are likely whenever the historic resources analyses prescribed by 9VAC15-60-40 B indicate that the proposed project is likely to diminish significantly any aspect of a historic resource's integrity.

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.

9VAC15-60-60. Mitigation plan.

A. If the department determines that significant adverse impacts to wildlife or historic resources or both are likely, then the applicant shall prepare a mitigation plan.

B. Mitigation measures for significant adverse impacts to wildlife shall include:

1. For state-listed T&E wildlife, the applicant shall take all reasonable measures to avoid significant adverse impacts or shall demonstrate in the mitigation plan what significant adverse impacts cannot practicably be avoided and why additional proposed actions are reasonable. These additional proposed actions may include best practices to avoid, minimize, or offset adverse impacts to resources analyzed pursuant to 9VAC15-60-40 A or C.

2. For proposed projects where the disturbance zone is located on or within one-half mile of a known or potential sea turtle nesting beach, the applicant shall take all reasonable measures to avoid significant adverse impacts or shall demonstrate in the mitigation plan what significant adverse impacts cannot practicably be avoided, and why additional proposed mitigation actions are reasonable. Mitigation measures shall include the following:

a. Avoiding construction within likely sea turtle crawl or nesting habitats during the turtle nesting and hatching season (May 20 through October 31). If avoiding construction during this period is not possible, then conducting daily crawl surveys of the disturbance zone (May 20 through August 31) and one mile beyond the northern and southern reaches of the disturbance zone (hereinafter "sea turtle nest survey zone") between sunrise and 9 a.m. by qualified individuals who have the ability to distinguish accurately between nesting and nonnesting emergences.

b. If construction is scheduled during the nesting season, then including measures to protect nests and hatchlings found within the sea turtle nest survey zone.

c. Minimizing nighttime construction during the nesting season and designing project lighting during the construction and operational phases to minimize impacts on nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.

3. For projects located in part or in whole within zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, or 14 on the Coastal Avian Protection Zones (CAPZ) map, contribute $1,000.00 per megawatt of rated capacity, or partial megawatt thereof, to a fund designated by the department in support of scientific research investigating the impacts of projects in CAPZ on avian resources.

C. Mitigation measures for significant adverse impacts to historic resources shall include:

1. Significant adverse impacts to VLR-eligible or VLR-listed architectural resources shall be minimized, to the extent practicable, through design of the solar energy project or the installation of vegetative or other screening.

2. If significant adverse impacts to VLR-eligible or VLR-listed architectural resources cannot be avoided or minimized such that impacts are no longer significantly adverse, then the applicant shall develop a reasonable and proportionate mitigation plan that offsets the significantly adverse impacts and has a demonstrable public benefit and benefit for the affected or similar resource.

3. If any identified VLR-eligible or VLR-listed archaeological site cannot be avoided or minimized to such a degree as to avoid a significant adverse impact, significant adverse impacts of the project will be mitigated through archaeological data recovery.

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.

9VAC15-60-70. Site plan and context map requirements.

A. The applicant shall submit a site plan that includes maps showing the physical features, topography, and land cover of the area within the site, both before and after construction of the proposed project. The site plan shall be submitted at a scale sufficient to show, and shall include, the following: (i) the boundaries of the site; (ii) the location, height, and dimensions of all existing and proposed PV systems, other structures, fencing, and other infrastructure; (iii) the location, grades, and dimensions of all temporary and permanent on-site and access roads from the nearest county or state maintained road; and (iv) water bodies, waterways, wetlands, and drainage channels.

B. The applicant shall submit a context map including the area encompassed by the site and within five miles of the site boundary. The context map shall show state and federal resource lands and other protected areas, Coastal Avian Protection Zones, historic resources, state roads, waterways, locality boundaries, forests, open spaces, and transmission and substation infrastructure.

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.

9VAC15-60-80. Small solar energy project design standards.

The design and installation of the small solar energy project shall incorporate any requirements of the mitigation plan that pertain to design and installation if a mitigation plan is required pursuant to 9VAC15-60-50.

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.

9VAC15-60-90. Public participation.

A. Before the initiation of any construction at the small solar energy project, the applicant shall comply with this section. The owner or operator shall first publish a notice once a week for two consecutive weeks in a major local newspaper of general circulation informing the public that he intends to construct and operate a project eligible for a permit by rule. No later than the date of newspaper publication of the initial notice, the owner or operator shall submit to the department a copy of the notice along with electronic copies of all documents that the applicant plans to submit in support of the application. The notice shall include:

1. A brief description of the proposed project and its location, including the approximate dimensions of the site, approximate number and configuration of PV systems, and approximate maximum height of PV systems;

2. A statement that the purpose of the public participation is to (i) acquaint the public with the technical aspects of the proposed project and how the standards and the requirements of this chapter will be met, (ii) identify issues of concern, (iii) facilitate communication, and (iv) establish a dialogue between the owner or operator and persons who may be affected by the project;

3. Announcement of a 30-day comment period in accordance with subsection C of this section, and the name, telephone number, address, and email address of the applicant who can be contacted by the interested persons to answer questions or to whom comments shall be sent;

4. Announcement of the date, time, and place for a public meeting held in accordance with subsection D of this section; and

5. Location where copies of the documentation to be submitted to the department in support of the permit by rule application will be available for inspection.

B. The owner or operator shall place a copy of the documentation in a location accessible to the public during business hours for the duration of the 30-day comment period in the vicinity of the proposed project.

C. The public shall be provided at least 30 days to comment on the technical and the regulatory aspects of the proposal. The comment period shall begin no sooner than 15 days after the applicant initially publishes the notice in the local newspaper.

D. The applicant shall hold a public meeting not earlier than 15 days after the beginning of the 30-day public comment period and no later than seven days before the close of the 30-day comment period. The 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.

E. For purposes of this chapter, the applicant and any interested party who submits written comments on the proposal to the applicant during the public comment period or who signs in and provides oral comments at the public meeting shall be deemed to have participated in the proceeding for a permit by rule under this chapter and pursuant to § 10.1-1197.7 B 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.

9VAC15-60-100. Change of ownership, project modifications, termination.

A. Change of ownership. A permit by rule may be transferred to a new owner or operator if:

1. The current owner or operator notifies the department at least 30 days in advance of the transfer date by submittal of a notice per subdivision 2 of this subsection;

2. The notice shall include a written agreement between the existing and new owner or operator containing a specific date for transfer of permit responsibility, coverage, and liability between them; and

3. The transfer of the permit by rule to the new owner or operator shall be effective on the date specified in the agreement described in subdivision 2 of this subsection.

B. Project modifications. Provided project modifications are in accordance with the requirements of this permit by rule and do not increase the rated capacity of the small solar energy project, the owner or operator of a project authorized under a permit by rule may modify its design or operation or both by furnishing to the department new certificates prepared by a professional engineer, new documentation required under 9VAC15-60-30, and the appropriate fee in accordance with 9VAC15-60-110. The department shall review the received modification submittal in accordance with the provisions of subsection B of 9VAC15-60-30.

C. Permit by rule termination. The department may terminate the permit by rule whenever the department finds that:

1. The applicant has knowingly or willfully misrepresented or failed to disclose a material fact in any report or certification required under this chapter; or

2. After the department has taken enforcement actions pursuant to 9VAC15-60-140, the owner or operator persistently operates the project in significant violation of the project's mitigation plan.

Prior to terminating a permit by rule pursuant to subdivision 1 or 2 of this subsection, the department shall hold an informal fact-finding proceeding pursuant to § 2.2-4019 of the Virginia Administrative Process Act in order to assess whether to continue with termination of the permit by rule or to issue any other appropriate order. If the department determines that it should continue with the termination of the permit by rule, the department shall hold a formal hearing pursuant to § 2.2-4020 of the Virginia Administrative Process Act. Notice of the formal hearing shall be delivered to the owner or operator. Any owner or operator whose permit by rule is terminated by the department shall cease operating his small solar energy project.

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.

9VAC15-60-110. Fees for projects subject to Part II of this chapter.

A. Purpose. The purpose of this section is to establish schedules and procedures pertaining to the payment and collection of fees from any applicant seeking a new permit by rule or a modification to an existing permit by rule for a small solar energy project subject to Part II (9VAC15-60-30 et seq.) of this chapter.

B. Permit fee payment and deposit. Fees for permit by rule applications or modifications shall be paid by the applicant as follows:

1. Due date. All permit application fees or modification fees are due on submittal day of the application or modification package.

2. Method of payment. Fees shall be paid by check, draft, or postal money order made payable to "Treasurer of Virginia/DEQ" and shall be sent to the Department of Environmental Quality, Receipts Control, P.O. Box 1104, Richmond, VA 23218.

3. Incomplete payments. All incomplete payments shall be deemed nonpayments.

4. Late payment. No application or modification submittal will be deemed complete until the department receives proper payment.

C. Fee schedules. Each application for a permit by rule and each application for a modification of a permit by rule is a separate action and shall be assessed a separate fee. The amount of the permit application fee is based on the costs associated with the permitting program required by this chapter. The fee schedules are shown in the following table:

Type of Action

Fee

Permit by rule application – by rated capacity:

>5 MW up to and including 25 MW

>25 MW up to and including 50 MW

>50 MW up to and including 75 MW

>75 MW up to and including 150 MW

$8,000

$10,000

$12,000

$14,000

Permit by rule modification – for any project subject to Part II of this chapter

$4,000

D. Use of fees. Fees are assessed for the purpose of defraying the department's costs of administering and enforcing the provisions of this chapter including permit by rule processing, permit by rule modification processing, and inspection and monitoring of small solar energy projects to ensure compliance with this chapter. Fees collected pursuant to this section shall be used for the administrative and enforcement purposes specified in this chapter and in § 10.1-1197.6 E of the Code of Virginia.

E. Fund. The fees, received by the department in accordance with this chapter, shall be deposited in the Small Renewable Energy Project Fee Fund.

F. Periodic review of fees. Beginning July 1, 2013, and periodically thereafter, the department shall review the schedule of fees established pursuant to this section to ensure that the total fees collected are sufficient to cover 100% of the department's direct costs associated with use of the fees.

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 29, Issue 23, eff. August 14, 2013; Volume 33, Issue 20, eff. July 1, 2017.

9VAC15-60-120. Internet accessible resources.

A. This chapter refers to resources to be used by applicants in gathering information to be submitted to the department. These resources are available through the Internet; therefore, in order to assist applicants, the uniform resource locator or Internet address is provided for each of the references listed in this section.

B. Internet available resources.

1. The Virginia Landmarks Register, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, 2801 Kensington Avenue, Richmond, Virginia. Available at the following Internet address: http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/register.htm.

2. Professional Qualifications Standards, the Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation, as amended and annotated (48 FR 44716-740, September 29, 1983), National Parks Service, Washington, DC. Available at the following Internet address: http://www.nps.gov/history/local-law/arch_stnds_9.htm.

3. The Natural Communities of Virginia, Classification of Ecological Community Groups, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, Virginia. Available at the following Internet address: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncintro.shtml.

4. Virginia's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2005 (referred to as the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia. Available at the following Internet address: http://www.bewildvirginia.org/wildlifeplan/.

C. Internet applications.

1. Coastal GEMS application, 2010, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Available at the following Internet address: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/coastal/coastalgems.html.

NOTE: This website is maintained by the department. Assistance and information may be obtained by contacting Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, 1111 East Main Street, Suite 1400, Richmond, Virginia 23219, (804) 698‑4000.

2. Virginia Natural Landscape Assessment, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Available at the following Internet address: for detailed information on ecological cores go to http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/vclnavnla.shtm. Land maps may be viewed at DCR's Land Conservation Data Explorer Geographic Information System website at http://www.vaconservedlands.org/gis.aspx.

NOTE: The website is maintained by DCR. Actual shapefiles and metadata are available for free by contacting a DCR staff person at vaconslands@dcr.virginia.gov or DCR, Division of Natural Heritage, 217 Governor Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219, (804) 786‑7951.

3. Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service 2010, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Available at the following Internet address: http://www.vafwis.org/fwis/.

NOTE: This website is maintained by DGIF and is accessible to the public as "visitors," or to registered subscribers. Registration, however, is required for access to resource-specific or species-specific locational data and records. Assistance and information may be obtained by contacting DGIF, Fish and Wildlife Information Service, 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230, (804) 367‑6913.

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 34, Issue 13, eff. February 19, 2018.

Part III
Provisions for Projects Less Than or Equal to Five Megawatts or Less Than or Equal to 10 Acres or Meeting Certain Categorical Criteria

9VAC15-60-130. Small solar energy projects less than or equal to five megawatts or less than or equal to 10 acres or meeting certain categorical criteria.

A. The owner or operator of a small solar energy project is not required to submit any notification or certification to the department if he meets at least one of the following criteria:

1. The small solar energy project has either a rated capacity equal to or less than 500 kilowatts or a disturbance zone equal to or less than two acres; or

2. The small solar project falls within at least one of the following categories, without regard to the rated capacity or the disturbance zone of the project:

a. The small solar energy project is mounted on a single-family or duplex private residence.

b. The small solar energy project is mounted on one or more buildings less than 50 years old or, if 50 years of age or older, have been evaluated and determined by DHR within the preceding seven years to be not VLR-eligible.

c. The small solar energy project is mounted over one or more existing parking lots, existing roads, or other previously disturbed areas and any impacts to undisturbed areas do not exceed an additional two acres.

d. The small solar energy project utilizes integrated PV only, provided that the building or structure on which the integrated PV materials are used is less than 50 years old or, if 50 years of age or older, has been evaluated and determined by DHR within the preceding seven years to be not VLR-eligible.

B. The owner or operator of a small solar energy project with either a rated capacity greater than 500 kilowatts and less than or equal to five megawatts or a disturbance zone greater than two acres and less than or equal to 10 acres shall notify the department and shall submit a certification by the governing body of the locality or localities wherein the project will be located that the project complies with all applicable land use ordinances.

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.

Part IV
Enforcement

9VAC15-60-140. Enforcement.

The department may enforce the provisions of this chapter and any permits by rule authorized under this chapter in accordance with §§ 10.1-1197.9, 10.1-1197.10, and 10.1-1197.11 of the Code of Virginia. In so doing, the department may:

1. Issue directives in accordance with the law;

2. Issue special orders in accordance with the law;

3. Issue emergency special orders in accordance with the law;

4. Seek injunction, mandamus, or other appropriate remedy as authorized by the law;

5. Seek civil penalties under the law; or

6. Seek remedies under the law, or under other laws including the common law.

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.

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.

As a service to the public, the Virginia Administrative Code is provided online by the Virginia General Assembly. We are unable to answer legal questions or respond to requests for legal advice, including application of law to specific fact. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.