A Local Government Outreach Group convened by DEQ has developed model local ordinances for wind and solar renewable energy projects in Virginia. The group is a partnership of local government, state government, industry, academia and environmental advocates whose goal was to develop tools to help make renewable-energy projects a reality.
Before the formation of the outreach group, numerous questions had been raised about how local governments might address citizen concerns on wind energy development. The group, chaired by DEQ Director David K. Paylor, began work in spring 2010.
The outreach group first drafted a utility-scale model wind ordinance, which includes suggested provisions, as well as footnoted discussions of key issues and alternatives for addressing those issues. This model is a resource that local governments and citizens may consult when considering a utility-scale wind ordinance for a community.
In December 2012, additional model ordinances were completed for community-scale and residential-scale wind projects, as well as for larger and smaller solar projects.
The model local ordinances for wind and solar energy projects were developed because of differences in the responsibilities of the state and local governments. The Commonwealth is responsible for the natural-resource impacts of construction and operation of renewable energy projects, while local governments are responsible for other issues, such as:
- Siting, including land use and zoning.
- Health and safety, including setbacks, noise and building codes.
- Decommissioning, including financial assurance.