HB1675: Solar energy facilities; definitions, siting agreement with host locality.


VIRGINIA ACTS OF ASSEMBLY -- CHAPTER
An Act to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Chapter 22 of Title 15.2 an article numbered 7.3, consisting of sections numbered 15.2-2316.6 through 15.2-2316.9, relating to siting of solar energy facilities.
[H 1675]
Approved

 

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Chapter 22 of Title 15.2 an article numbered 7.3, consisting of sections numbered 15.2-2316.6 through 15.2-2316.9, as follows:

Article 7.3.
Siting of Solar Energy Facilities.

§ 15.2-2316.6. Siting of solar facilities in economically disadvantaged localities.

A. As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Host locality" means any locality within the jurisdictional boundaries of which construction of a commercial solar facility is proposed.

"Opportunity zone" means a census tract in an area of the host locality meeting the eligibility requirements for designation as a qualified opportunity zone by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury via his delegation of authority to the Internal Revenue Service.

"Solar facility" means a commercial solar photovoltaic (electric energy) generation or storage facility, or any portion thereof. "Solar facility" does not include any project that is (i) described in § 56-594, 56-594.01, or 56-594.2 or Chapters 358 and 382 of the Acts of Assembly of 2013, as amended, or (ii) five megawatts or less.

B. This article applies only to a solar facility located in an opportunity zone.

§ 15.2-2316.7. Negotiations; siting agreement.

A. Any applicant for a solar facility shall give to the host locality written notice of the applicant's intent to locate a solar facility in an opportunity zone in such locality and request a meeting. Such applicant shall meet, discuss, and negotiate a siting agreement with such locality.

B. The siting agreement may include terms and conditions, including (i) mitigation of any impacts of such solar facility; (ii) financial compensation to the host locality to address capital needs set out in the (a) capital improvement plan adopted by the host locality, (b) current fiscal budget of the host locality, or (c) fiscal fund balance policy adopted by the host locality; or (iii) assistance by the applicant in the deployment of broadband, as defined in § 56-585.1:9, in such locality.

§ 15.2-2316.8. Powers of host localities.

A. The governing body of a host locality shall have the power to:

1. Hire and pay consultants and other experts on behalf of the host locality in matters pertaining to the siting of a solar facility;

2. Meet, discuss, and negotiate a siting agreement with an applicant; and

3. Enter into a siting agreement with an applicant that is binding upon the governing body of the host locality and enforceable against it and future governing bodies of the host locality in any court of competent jurisdiction by signing a siting agreement pursuant to this article. Such contract may be assignable at the parties' option.

B. If the parties to the siting agreement agree upon the terms and conditions of a siting agreement, the host locality shall schedule a public hearing, pursuant to subdivision A of § 15.2-2204, for the purpose of consideration of such siting agreement. If a majority of a quorum of the members of the governing body present at such public hearing approve of such siting agreement, the siting agreement shall be executed by the signatures of (i) the chief executive officer of the host locality and (ii) the applicant or the applicant's authorized agent. The siting agreement shall continue in effect until it is amended, revoked, or suspended.

§ 15.2-2316.9. Effect of executed siting agreement; land use approval.

A. Nothing in this article shall be construed to exempt an applicant from any other applicable requirements to obtain approvals and permits under federal, state, or local ordinances and regulations. An applicant may file for appropriate land use approvals for the solar facility under the regulations and ordinances of the host locality at or after the time the applicant submits its notice of intent to site a solar facility as set forth in subdivision A of § 15.2-2316.7.

B. Nothing in this article shall affect the authority of the host locality to enforce its ordinances and regulations to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the terms and conditions of the siting agreement.

C. Approval of a siting agreement by the local governing body in accordance with subdivision B of § 15.2-2316.8 shall deem the solar facility to be substantially in accord with the comprehensive plan of the host locality, thereby satisfying the requirements of § 15.2-2232.

D. The failure of an applicant and the governing body to enter into a siting agreement may be a factor in the decision of the governing body in the consideration of any land use approvals for a solar facility, but shall not be the sole reason for a denial of such land use approvals.

2. That the provisions of this act shall not apply to any solar facility that has received zoning and site plan approval, preliminary or otherwise, from the host locality on or before January 1, 2020.


HOUSE BILL NO. 1675
AMENDMENT IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE
(Proposed by the Senate Committee on Local Government
on February 24, 2020)
(Patron Prior to Substitute--Delegate Hodges)
A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Chapter 22 of Title 15.2 an article numbered 7.3, consisting of sections numbered 15.2-2316.6 through 15.2-2316.9, relating to siting of solar energy facilities.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Chapter 22 of Title 15.2 an article numbered 7.3, consisting of sections numbered 15.2-2316.6 through 15.2-2316.9, as follows:

Article 7.3.
Siting of Solar Energy Facilities.

§ 15.2-2316.6. Siting of solar facilities in economically disadvantaged localities.

A. As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Host locality" means any locality within the jurisdictional boundaries of which construction of a commercial solar facility is proposed.

"Opportunity zone" means a census tract in an area of the host locality meeting the eligibility requirements for designation as a qualified opportunity zone by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury via his delegation of authority to the Internal Revenue Service.

"Solar facility" means a commercial solar photovoltaic (electric energy) generation or storage facility, or any portion thereof. "Solar facility" does not include any project that is (i) described in § 56-594, 56-594.01, or 56-594.2 or Chapters 358 and 382 of the Acts of Assembly of 2013, as amended, or (ii) five megawatts or less.

B. This article applies only to a solar facility located in an opportunity zone.

§ 15.2-2316.7. Negotiations; siting agreement.

A. Any applicant for a solar facility shall give to the host locality written notice of the applicant's intent to locate a solar facility in an opportunity zone in such locality and request a meeting. Such applicant shall meet, discuss, and negotiate a siting agreement with such locality.

B. The siting agreement may include terms and conditions, including (i) mitigation of any impacts of such solar facility; (ii) financial compensation to the host locality to address capital needs set out in the (a) capital improvement plan adopted by the host locality, (b) current fiscal budget of the host locality, or (c) fiscal fund balance policy adopted by the host locality; or (iii) assistance by the applicant in the deployment of broadband, as defined in § 56-585.1:9, in such locality.

§ 15.2-2316.8. Powers of host localities.

A. The governing body of a host locality shall have the power to:

1. Hire and pay consultants and other experts on behalf of the host locality in matters pertaining to the siting of a solar facility;

2. Meet, discuss, and negotiate a siting agreement with an applicant; and

3. Enter into a siting agreement with an applicant that is binding upon the governing body of the host locality and enforceable against it and future governing bodies of the host locality in any court of competent jurisdiction by signing a siting agreement pursuant to this article. Such contract may be assignable at the parties' option.

B. If the parties to the siting agreement agree upon the terms and conditions of a siting agreement, the host locality shall schedule a public hearing, pursuant to subdivision A of § 15.2-2204, for the purpose of consideration of such siting agreement. If a majority of a quorum of the members of the governing body present at such public hearing approve of such siting agreement, the siting agreement shall be executed by the signatures of (i) the chief executive officer of the host locality and (ii) the applicant or the applicant's authorized agent. The siting agreement shall continue in effect until it is amended, revoked, or suspended.

§ 15.2-2316.9. Effect of executed siting agreement; land use approval.

A. Nothing in this article shall be construed to exempt an applicant from any other applicable requirements to obtain approvals and permits under federal, state, or local ordinances and regulations. An applicant may file for appropriate land use approvals for the solar facility under the regulations and ordinances of the host locality at or after the time the applicant submits its notice of intent to site a solar facility as set forth in subdivision A of § 15.2-2316.7.

B. Nothing in this article shall affect the authority of the host locality to enforce its ordinances and regulations to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the terms and conditions of the siting agreement.

C. Approval of a siting agreement by the local governing body in accordance with subdivision B of § 15.2-2316.8 shall deem the solar facility to be substantially in accord with the comprehensive plan of the host locality, thereby satisfying the requirements of § 15.2-2232.

D. The failure of an applicant and the governing body to enter into a siting agreement may be a factor in the decision of the governing body in the consideration of any land use approvals for a solar facility, but shall not be the sole reason for a denial of such land use approvals.

2. That the provisions of this act shall not apply to any solar facility that has received zoning and site plan approval, preliminary or otherwise, from the host locality on or before January 1, 2020.

HOUSE BILL NO. 1675

Offered January 17, 2020
A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Chapter 22 of Title 15.2 an article numbered 7.3, consisting of sections numbered 15.2-2316.6 through 15.2-2316.9, relating to siting of solar energy facilities.
Patron-- Hodges

Committee Referral Pending

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Chapter 22 of Title 15.2 an article numbered 7.3, consisting of sections numbered 15.2-2316.6 through 15.2-2316.9, as follows:

Article 7.3.
Siting of Solar Energy Facilities.

§ 15.2-2316.6. Siting of solar photovoltaic (electric energy) facilities in economically disadvantaged localities.

A. For purposes of this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Facility" means a commercial solar photovoltaic (electric energy) generation or storage facility, or any portion thereof.

"Host locality" means any locality within whose jurisdictional boundaries construction of a commercial solar photovoltaic (electric energy) generation or storage facility is proposed.

B. Prior to the issuance of a permit by rule or certificate of public need, an applicant seeking to locate a facility on any census tract meeting the eligibility requirements for an opportunity zone as designated by the federal Internal Revenue Service shall execute a siting agreement with the host locality in which the census tract is located.

§ 15.2-2316.7. Powers of host localities.

The governing body of a host locality shall have the power to:

1. Hire and pay consultants and other experts on behalf of the host locality in matters pertaining to the siting of a facility; and

2. Enter into a contract with an applicant that is binding upon the governing body of the host locality and enforceable against it and future governing bodies of the host locality in any court of competent jurisdiction by signing a siting agreement pursuant to this article. Such contract may be assignable at the parties' option.

§ 15.2-2316.8. Negotiations; siting agreement.

A. The governing body of a host locality or its designated representatives and the applicant, after submission to the governing body by the applicant of a written notice of intent to site a facility, may meet to discuss any matters pertaining to the site and the facility, including negotiations of a siting agreement. The time and place of any meeting shall be set by agreement, but at least 48 hours' notice shall be given to members of the governing body and the applicant.

B. The siting agreement may include any terms and conditions, including mitigation of adverse impacts and financial compensation to the host locality, concerning the facility.

C. The siting agreement shall be executed by the signatures of (i) the chief executive officer of the host locality, provided that the chief executive officer has been so directed by a majority vote of the local governing body, and (ii) the applicant or authorized agent.

D. No injunction, stay, prohibition, mandamus, or other order or writ shall lie against the conduct of negotiations or discussions concerning a siting agreement or against the agreement itself, unless conducted in violation of state or federal law.

§ 15.2-2316.9. Effect of executed siting agreement.

A. A fully executed siting agreement shall supersede any local ordinance or regulation that is inconsistent with the terms of the agreement. Nothing in this chapter shall affect the authority of the host locality to enforce its regulations and ordinances to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the terms and conditions of the siting agreement. Execution of a siting agreement shall not preclude or excuse the applicant from any other requirement to obtain approval or permits or other state or federal law. The siting agreement shall continue in effect until it is amended, revoked, or suspended.

B. The governing body of the host locality may enforce any regulation or ordinance to the extent provided by subsection A and the terms of the siting agreement.

2. That the provisions of this act shall not apply to any solar photovoltaic (electric energy) generation or storage facility that has received zoning and site plan approval, preliminary or otherwise, from the host locality on or before January 1, 2020.