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Virginia Regulators Considering Amendments to Rules for 150 Megawatt Solar Projects

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) has taken the first step towards amending existing permitting procedures for small solar energy projects. The potential amendments may help sustain the recent proliferation of solar energy in the Commonwealth. Since its adoption in 2012, the Small Energy Renewable Energy Projects (Solar) Permit by Rule has led to the permitting of thirty-one projects with a combined capacity of over 800 megawatts. Currently, sixty additional applicants have provided notice of their intent to construct and operate qualifying solar projects, with a combined additional capacity of 3,000 megawatts. 

The Permit by Rule streamlines the application and permitting process for solar energy projects with a capacity between 150 and 5 megawatts and that occupy 10 or more acres (small solar energy projects). Under the Permit by Rule, VDEQ authorizes the construction and operation of all small solar energy projects with a completed application that satisfies the rule’s project criteria. Applicants must submit:

  1. Proof of local government approval.

  2. Certification that all requisite environmental permits have been applied for or obtained.

  3. Interconnection studies and the interconnection agreement.

  4. An operating plan.

  5. A site plan.

  6. Certification that the project’s capacity will not exceed 150 megawatts.

  7. An analysis of potential environmental impacts, natural resources, and, if required under the rule, a mitigation plan.

  8. Any requisite fees.

Additionally, applicants must provide a 30-day public notice and comment period and hold a public meeting pursuant to procedures specified in the rule. 

Rather than proposing any specific changes to the Permit by Rule, VDEQ solicited public comments on how to best clarify the rule’s definitions, public participation procedures, and natural and cultural resource study requirements. VDEQ also sought public input on how to “establish clear timeframes for data submittals and recordkeeping activities.” VDEQ is currently formulating a Regulatory Advisory Panel to assist in developing proposed amendments to the Permit by Rule. As a part of this process, the Regulatory Advisory Panel and VDEQ will review all comments received during the public comment period (which closed on June 26, 2019). VDEQ will ultimately publish proposed amendments for public review, though the timing has not yet been announced.

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About this Author

James M. Auslander, Environmental Law Attorney, Beveridge Diamond Law Firm

James (Jamie) Auslander’s legal practice focuses on environmental, natural resources, and administrative law and litigation.  Mr. Auslander represents numerous major and small businesses, trade associations, and state agencies in a wide range of regulatory and litigation matters, both national and local in scope.  He serves clients in all phases of a case, including internal compliance, administrative proceedings and negotiations, and litigation when necessary.

Mr. Auslander devotes a significant part of his practice to counseling and litigation...

Brook J. Detterman, Beveridge Diamond, Climate Change Lawyer, Liabilities Law

Brook Detterman's practice focuses on climate change, renewable energy, and environmental litigation.

Brook helps his clients to negotiate, structure, and implement transactions related to climate change and environmental commodities markets.  He regularly counsels clients during transactions under the EU ETS, California’s cap and trade program (AB 32), and other U.S. and international emissions trading programs. Brook also supports clients in the renewable energy industry, providing advice on renewable energy policies, regulations, and incentive programs and counseling clients on the environmental aspects of renewable energy projects and transactions.  Brook’s experience also includes complex environmental litigation, and he has served as litigation and appellate counsel during dozens of proceedings in state and federal courts across the country.

Brook's climate change and renewable energy experience includes:

  • Providing advice to a broad range of clients on state and federal renewable energy policies, incentives, and regulations.
  • Advising clients during the structuring and development of numerous carbon offset and renewable energy projects and transactions, including U.S. forest offset projects, hydroelectric projects under the Clean Development Mechanism, domestic landfill gas-to-energy development, and a novel trans-border carbon offset generation project involving CFC destruction.
  • Representing Native American tribes and corporations during the development of large carbon offset projects on tribal forest lands.
  • Drafting model renewable portfolio standards.
  • Developing regulatory guidance and strategy for over 30 energy companies on a wide range of environmental issues, including state and federal greenhouse gas regulations.
  • Counseling clients on carbon accounting, social cost of carbon metrics, and climate risk disclosure.

Prior to joining the firm, Brook was an associate in the environmental department of a large international law firm.

Brook served as a law clerk at the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, where he worked on a range of legal issues arising under federal environmental law, including CWA wetlands jurisdiction, CERCLA liability, RCRA compliance, and NEPA requirements. Brook was Associate Editor of the Lewis & Clark Law School Environmental Law Review and served on the Moot Court Honor Board.  At Dartmouth College, Brook worked as a teaching assistant in Environmental Studies Department, and as a research assistant in the Biology Department.

(781) 416-5745

Hilary maintains a general environmental litigation and regulatory practice, working with clients nationwide across industrial sectors.

She joined the Firm following her graduation from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (UM Carey Law). 

While at UM Carey Law, Hilary served as a law clerk in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, Water Enforcement Division, and served as Articles Editor for the Maryland Law Review. She also worked in the University of...