Renewable energy facilities, certain; exemption from local zoning and land use regulations. (SB1341)

Introduced By

Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Springfield) with support from co-patron Sen. John Watkins (R-Midlothian)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Renewable energy facilities; exemption from land use regulations. Exempts certain electrical generation facilities powered by renewable sources of energy from local zoning and land use requirements. The exemption applies to a facility that is owned by an electric utility, has a capacity of at least four megawatts, is on a parcel of at least 25 acres, and has received all required approvals and permits from the State Corporation Commission and environmental regulators. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/18/2013Presented and ordered printed 13104194D
01/18/2013Referred to Committee on Local Government
01/29/2013Stricken at request of Patron in Local Government (14-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)


Rick Webb writes:

Why is it that some of Virginia's urban politicians show so little respect for the citizens of our rural counties?
I refer to State Senators Dick Saslaw (D) of Springfield and John Watkins (R) of Midlothian who have co-sponsored a bill (SB 1341) before the General Assembly that would override local authority over the siting of commercial wind energy projects. They follow in the footsteps of State Senator Frank Wagner (R) of Virginia Beach, who for years has worked on behalf of corporate wind and against the interests of rural communities.
These legislators from northern and eastern Virginia seem to think the citizens of western Virginia's rural counties warrant only second-class status when it comes to self governance.
Do they think we are less capable than they to evaluate whether the potential benefits compensate for the environmental and human tradeoff associated with industrial-scale wind energy development in our mountain landscape? Do they think that we cannot properly decide for ourselves whether the sweeping claims of the wind industry and its advocates are based on reality or simply self-interested promotion and wishful thinking?
Maybe Senators Saslaw and Watkins think it proper that those of us who live in rural Virginia should concede to the wisdom of those, like themselves, who live in the midst of relentless high-consumption urban sprawl. They are right, after all, to recognize that business as usual is not going to solve our energy and environmental problems. Clearly, sacrifices must be made by someone, and who better than someone far from one's voting district? And besides, almost every politician worth his campaign contributions knows it would be insensitive to address the real sources of our energy problems.
So, how do we understand this particular power play by Senators Saslaw and Watkins?
Is it perhaps a sort of benevolent despotism on behalf of the greater good that we dim provincials cannot be expected to understand? Or is it simply the usual matter of politicians doing the bidding of corporate interests for whom the legitimate workings of democratic government have become an inconvenience?