In December, LUEP hosted a dialog among solar energy policy groups throughout the state. As many are now aware, the local government response to solar development has been “lumpy”, with a variety of approaches to siting and permitting. The December work group focused on possible revisions to guidance to localities, specifically model ordinances. The Rubin Group, VSEDA, industry partners, local government representatives, and the NC Clean Energy Center were invited (among others).
Attendees heard from local governmental planners from Halifax County, Southampton County, and the City of Charlottesville. Presenters shared their experience developing solar ordinances for their communities. Insights from the exchange helped identify possible changes to Virginia’s model solar ordinances, and additional guidance materials for local governments and other audiences. Land use law, industry best-practices, site development processes, and other emerging issues such as vegetation management were considered. Attendees also considered the need for educational and technical assistance campaign to inform landowners, local governments, first responders, and other stakeholders.
At the conclusion of the meeting, two preliminary goals were set by the group. First, the group agreed to work towards a one or two-day educational event in mid-March designed to provide education on all aspects of solar development and public policy. Second, the group agreed to research opportunities to fund an ongoing educational campaign. Grants, event registration funds, state appropriations, gifts from corporations and the like were all discussed. Cooperative funding strategies seemed central to this discussion. All that said, there simply needs to be more information sharing and dialog among local planners about local policy design and energy planning. Please get involved…now’s a great time to engage with your peers!