Small renewable energy projects; DEQ to develop procedure permitting construction and operation. (SB1347)

Introduced By

Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Wind energy development. Exempts wind energy projects with a rated capacity of less than 100 megawatts that will be operated or constructed by a nonutility generator from provisions that require State Corporation Commission (SCC) approval. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is designated as the lead agency for issuing permits for such projects. Limits are imposed on the duration and financial obligations of the developer with respect to monitoring the effect of the project on birds and other wildlife. Any SCC proceeding involving an application for a certificate, permit, or approval required for the construction or operation by a public utility of a wind power facility is required to be completed within nine months following the utility's submission of a complete application. The measure establishes an investment tax credit whereby a taxpayer is allowed a credit against income taxes equal to 35 percent of the cost of constructing, purchasing, or leasing wind turbines and towers. The credit may be claimed over a five-year period. The amount of income tax credits in any taxable year shall not exceed 50 percent of the tax liability otherwise due, and a taxpayer is ineligible to claim a credit of more than $500,000 in any year. Finally the measure declares that wind turbines and towers are tangible personal property used primarily for the purpose of abating or preventing pollution of the atmosphere and waters of the Commonwealth and exempts 80 percent of their value from state and local taxation. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/14/2009Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/09 090115804
01/14/2009Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor
01/23/2009Assigned C&L sub: Utilities
01/28/2009Impact statement from DPB (SB1347)
02/09/2009Reported from Commerce and Labor with substitute (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/09/2009Committee substitute printed 090181340-S1
02/10/2009Impact statement from VCSC (SB1347S1)
02/10/2009Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/10/2009Read second time
02/10/2009Reading of substitute waived
02/10/2009Committee substitute agreed to 090181340-S1
02/10/2009Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB1347S1
02/10/2009Constitutional reading dispensed (39-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/10/2009Passed Senate (38-Y 1-N 1-A) (see vote tally)
02/12/2009Impact statement from DPB (SB1347S1)
02/13/2009Placed on Calendar
02/13/2009Read first time
02/13/2009Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor
02/19/2009Reported from Commerce and Labor with substitute (16-Y 5-N) (see vote tally)
02/19/2009Committee substitute printed 090241340-H1
02/23/2009Read second time
02/24/2009Impact statement from VCSC (SB1347S1)
02/24/2009Read third time
02/24/2009Committee substitute agreed to 090241340-H1
02/24/2009Engrossed by House - committee substitute SB1347H1
02/24/2009Passed House with substitute (76-Y 21-N)
02/24/2009VOTE: --- PASSAGE (76-Y 21-N) (see vote tally)
02/25/2009Reconsideration of House substitute agreed to by Senate (38-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/25/2009House substitute agreed to by Senate (33-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
02/25/2009Title replaced 090241340-H1
02/26/2009Impact statement from VCSC (SB1347H1)
03/09/2009Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB1347ER)
03/10/2009Signed by President
03/11/2009Impact statement from DPB (SB1347ER)
03/11/2009Signed by Speaker
03/30/2009Governor's recommendation received by Senate
04/07/2009Placed on Calendar
04/08/2009Enacted, Chapter 853 (effective 7/1/09)
04/08/2009Senate concurred in Governor's recommendation (38-Y 2-N) (see vote tally)
04/08/2009House concurred in Governor's recommendation (97-Y 2-N)
04/08/2009VOTE: --- ADOPTION (97-Y 2-N) (see vote tally)
04/08/2009G Governor's recommendation adopted
04/08/2009Reenrolled bill text (SB1347ER2)
04/08/2009Signed by President as reenrolled
04/08/2009Signed by Speaker as reenrolled
04/08/2009Enacted, Chapter 854 (effective 7/1/09)
04/08/2009G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0854)
04/14/2009Reenrolled bill text (SB1347ER2)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 2 clips in all, totaling 2 minutes.

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: HB2525.


Lucile Miller writes:

I oppose this bill because it would allow industrial scale wind projects to operate without the careful review that the Virginia State Corporation brings to the permitting process.

The size of a wind project is not a predictor as to the environmental impact of a wind energy project. Depending on location, 15 wind turbines can be more environmentally destructive than 50 turbines that are more appropriately sited. Wind energy projects on forested ridges in West Virginia and Pennsylvania have resulted in unsustainably high wildlife mortality and extensive forest disturbance in the east's only major uninterrupted expanses of wildlands.

The State Corporation Commission is in a position to listen to experts discuss each project and to make a decision concerning the monitoring and mitigation that should take place to protect the interests of the people of Virginia.

To protect human health, farms and forests, it is unwise to pass a bill that would undercut the authority of the Virginia State Corporation to regulate wind energy projects. Having listened to expert witnesses in the case involving the first proposed wind project in Virginia, the SCC understands the environmental risks of even a relatively small project.

The SCC permitted the project with requirements that will help to mitigate the damage. Until the full impacts are understood and there is certainty concerning the reliability of mitigation to prevent the high mortality, the State Corporation Commission can best decide what is in the best interest of the citizens of Virginia.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

But it does have such projects reviewed by the Department of Environmental Quality. So it's not that they're unregulated—they're simply regulated by a different agency. Though I don't know what the logic is in having them regulated by the DEQ, rather than the SCC, doesn't it seem likely that the DEQ is better equipped than the SCC to determine the environmental impact of a wind energy project?

Rick Webb writes:

The SCC review process works, and there is no good reason to change it.

This bill strangely defines wind projects of up to 100 MW as "small wind projects." At seven 2-megawatt turbines per mile, a 100 MW project could occupy 14 miles of ridgeline.

The bill would also limit required post construction monitoring of bird and other wildlife mortality to no more than one year at a cost no higher than established by regulation (?).

This bill seems to be part of a continuing effort to undermine the precedent established by the SCC when it required a minimum 3-year wildlife mortality monitoring and mitigation program for the proposed Highland New Wind project. The SCC included a provision for modification of the required program based on results after 3 years.

Monitoring and mitigation will only be a problem for commercial wind projects proposed for locations where, as in the case of Highland New Wind, there is a high probability of substantial wildlife impact. In such cases, the size of the project is not the real issue.

The wind industry's lobbyist and some in the General Assembly have argued that the delay in permitting the Highland New Wind project demonstrates the need for limiting the review process for commercial wind projects. They fail to acknowledge that (1) serious environmental risks were identified by the state wildlife agencies and conservation groups, (2) that the developer has persistently failed to provide key information requested by reviewing agencies, and (3) that the SCC has, in fact, issued a permit with appropriate conditions. ([email protected])

gregory sprigg writes:

This bill is a thinly veiled effort to free wind turbine projects from any meaningful environmental review. It permits massive, environmentally destructive turbine projects to be built with minimal review - and sweetens the pot by adding enormous tax benefits to wind project developers who are otherwise unable to raise money for their poorly planned projects. Let's not destroy the environment in the name of saving it. Poorly sited wind projects can devastate wildlife habitat on the ground, and kill migrating birds in the air. Carelessly sited projects proposed in the GW National Forest in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley would require building miles of new roads and clear cutting miles of Forest ridge tops. The destruction of wildlife habitat would destroy recreational use of the Forest, destroy hunting, and the clear cuts would diminish the ability of the forest ecosystem to help clean our air and water - all for the financial enrichment of a very few individuals trying to feed off the public tax payer. Our forests are a fragile, precious life-giving resource. It is critical that wind projects proposed for siting on Forest ridge tops be subject to meaningful review.

Robert J. Smith writes:

I initially support the efforts of this bill in creating a procedure for the DEQ to exercise discretionary review of impact before permit exemption is granted for projects.

I oppose the month limitation on SCC proceedings and argue for a longer period [at least a year] for appropriate agencies to observe impact.

The tax credit provisions are appropriate as stated, although the cap at $500,000 could be extended if not for the evident economic dire straits throughout the Commonwealth.

Robert J. Smith writes:


*nine month*