Treating solar panels like pavement creates unnecessary project costs, new industry research paper shows
RICHMOND, July 13, 2022 — Business association Virginia Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) expressed disappointment about new regulatory guidance issued by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) today that fails to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens on the Virginia solar industry.
The guidance updates regulatory memos issued by Virginia’s DEQ in March that changed technical parameters of solar farm construction and maintenance. The DEQ memos claimed that because solar farms look similar to roads and parking lots on satellite imagery, solar farms should be regulated as such. Guidance released today outlined means for compliance, suggesting developers install unnecessary technology workarounds.
“Solar panels are not pavement, and solar farms are not parking lots,” said Kim Jemaine, Policy Director at Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). “Research conducted by both academic institutions and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory confirms that solar installations do not cause the kind of damaging runoff that paved surfaces do. These new regulations, which are not based on science, will hamstring a growing industry in Virginia for no valid reason.”
Virginia AEE and industry partners investigated the basis of DEQ’s initial memos on stormwater management on solar farms, leading to a new report that reviewed the scientific research on solar land use impacts and found the new regulations to be inappropriate and unnecessarily burdensome to businesses and landowners. Estimates made for the report indicate that the new regulations will require solar developers to acquire 20 percent more land than is needed to meet previous development standards.
The updated guidance comes on the heels of Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order #19, which established an Office of Regulatory Management pledging to reduce 25% of Virginia’s regulatory burden.
“The Governor has stated a desire to spur business investment in Virginia by reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens like these,” added Jemaine. “The solar industry has invested millions of dollars in Virginia and will continue to do so as long as Governor Youngkin’s Administration doesn’t create additional barriers for Virginians to diversify their energy resources. Solar is currently one of the cheapest forms of energy generation in the United States, but the Administration’s new regulations would make it more expensive for developers to expand their investment in the Commonwealth. We hope the Governor will slow the introduction of burdensome new regulations that create market uncertainty and disincentivize future investment in Virginia. We welcome the opportunity to work alongside this Administration to ensure that Virginia can continue to invest in cleaner, cost saving technologies that will benefit the Commonwealth’s economy and its workers.”
Learn more about Virginia AEE at VirginiaAdvancedEnergy.org.
About AEE and Virginia AEE
In Virginia, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) operates as Virginia Advanced Energy Economy (Virginia AEE), a group of businesses that are making the energy we use secure, clean, and affordable. Virginia AEE seeks to drive the development of advanced energy to boost the state’s economy and competitiveness by working to remove policy barriers, identify market growth opportunities, encourage market-based policies, establish public and private partnerships, and serve as the voice for companies innovating in the advanced energy sector. Track industry news @AEEnet and @VA_AEE.