Utility-scale solar energy (USSE) projects are growing in size and number across the Commonwealth. Unlike a traditional electric generating facility, they are land intensive. One Megawatt (MW) of generation capacity typically requires the siting of solar panels on 8 to 12 acres of land. The result is larger projects - in the 150MW to 500 MW range - now measure in the thousands of acres and even square miles. This episode explores both the land use impacts and local revenue implications of this emerging energy production market on Virginia’s counties.
RESOURCES – LAND USE
Mecklenburg County Solar Facility Impact Analysis: An Examination Land Use Impacts by the Berkley Group, LLC (https://www.vaco.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/MecklenburgCountySolarFacilityImpactsAnalysis.pdf)
Utility-Scale Solar Facility Development: Assessing Impact on Historic Battlefields and Related Resources – American Battlefield Trust (https://www.battlefields.org/solar)
§ 15.2-2232.H of the Code of Virginia (https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/15.2-2232) - Requirement for Utility-Scale Solar Energy projects to conform with local comprehensive plans.
§ 15.2-2223C.8 of the Code of Virginia (https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title15.2/chapter22/section15.2-2223/) - Prescribes that a locality’s comprehensive plan map may include “…The designation of corridors or routes for electric transmission lines of 150 kilovolts or more.”
RESOURCES – TAX & REVENUE
Composite Index Ruling for Mecklenburg Solar Facility – April 6, 2017 Letter from Virginia Tax Commissioner (http://www.vaco.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/CompositeIndexRulingMecklenburg.pdf)
SB 902 (https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?181+ful+CHAP0849+pdf) – Bill introduced at VACo’s request – and now law - that caps the mandatory exemption from local property taxes for solar facilities of less than 150 MW and enables localities to provide exemptions for facilities of 150 MW or greater, as a local option.
§ 58.1-2606.C of the Code of Virginia (https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title58.1/chapter26/section58.1-2606/) – Prescribes that the personal property tax applied to electric suppliers of 25 MW or more in generating capacity shall not exceed the applicable real estate rate.