On behalf of, Concerned Citizens of Gloucester, we present the following suggestions and information pertaining to the Solar discussion for your consideration.
· A Virginia County made a requirement in one of their CUP’s, for the inclusion of an educational kiosk with a platform that overlooks the solar fields so school kids can be bussed there for class. Suggest requiring the same where practical. Suggest kiosk “factually represent” the pros and cons of such solar energy facilities, including energy storage and path of energy transmission aspects.
· Suggest adding requirement that all materials used in the construction of commercial solar facilities must be manufactured in the USA. It may or may not be relevant, but Rapidan Service Authority has required USA manufactured materials in the construction and repair of their jurisdiction’s water and wastewater systems for years. Not sure if this is possible with solar facilities, but it sure would help the Country.
· Suggest sustained soils testing requirements for the life of the facility and as a requirement of the decommissioning process. Suggest testing for every potentially harmful element contained in any and all facility materials at least biannually. Including testing of all associated storm water facilities and outfalls to rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds and streams if a testing trail of contamination dictates such. Suggest including a provision requiring testing after any cataclysmic event that causes breakage of panels and other components containing potentially hazardous elements. Suggest including provision for abatement and replacement of soils found to be contaminated and for the removal of damaged and otherwise unserviceable components within a reasonable time (maybe 30 days). Suggest requiring the County be notified immediately in the event of damage to components containing toxic or otherwise harmful elements.
· Suggest prohibiting the disposal of any and all solar facility components, including contaminated soils, within the boundaries of Gloucester County. Such disposal may very well upset the projected lifespan of the landfill if left unchecked. Requiring recycling of materials as the only option may cause issues if such recycling facilities are not available for damaged or otherwise unusable components or when it is time to decommission the facility. What will happen then? Suggest requiring a detailed disposal plan.
· Several localities require seeding and planting with pollinator friendly grasses and plants as part of landscaping. Suggest requiring the same in Gloucester.
· Suggest fully exploring energy revenue share options provided in the Code of Virginia, with significant focus on the long-term revenue picture. Machines and Tools taxes will provide little revenue and Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery Depreciation (if applicable) will quickly decrease that revenue to nothing. Suggest clarifying how the facility’s real estate will be taxed, i.e., commercial, agriculture, etc. Suggest a requirement to review revenue sharing and other potential revenue avenues every five or so years.
· Suggest requiring data supported water usage estimates for construction and post construction operations. A lot of residents rely on well water. If well drilling is necessary during construction, the impact on nearby wells may need to be considered. If public water is used, it may be prudent to know what long- and short-term impacts there may be on the system.
· Suggest requiring applicants to coordinate with local emergency management staff and first responders to provide annual materials, education and/or training on hazardous elements contained in the facility and how to safely respond to and mitigate on-site emergencies.
· Suggest spelling out the acceptable forms of surety for decommissioning, etc. and what happens to sureties when ownership changes through sale, bankruptcy, etc. In other words, a way to ensure the existence and availability of those funds throughout the life of the facility?
· Suggest a requirement for power generated by solar facilities in Gloucester to be used only in Gloucester in the event of extended power outages.
· Suggest including below ground fixtures, apparatuses and other components to those items that must be removed during decommissioning.
· Suggest creating initiative to raise landowner awareness of the benefits and potential pit falls of entering into an agreement with solar companies. Maybe even requiring the landowner to acknowledge their awareness as part of the application process. In many instances throughout the country, landowners have been taken advantage of in various ways. See presentation on this topic at this link: http://wiseenergy.org/Energy/Solar/Leaseholder_Solar.pdf
We have included links to various Counties’ solar ordinances, to the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation’s Utility-Scale Solar Ordinance Recommendations, and other informative information. We hope information found at these links and our suggestions will be helpful in the process of developing comprehensive rules for solar development in our County.
Kenny Hogge, Sr.
Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation’s Utility-Scale Solar Ordinance Recommendations
Page County Solar Regulation (Draft) 11-17-2020
Culpeper County Solar Policy
Halifax County Solar Ordinance
The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), established in 1986.
New York Solar Law Model
Toxic Chemicals In Solar Panels