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Renewable Energy | Southeast Legislation Update

Renewable energy legislation is making its way down the east coast.

Both Virginia and Maryland recently passed laws that will allow for more renewable energy development on residential and industrial buildings, and on underutilized sites. In addition, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued directives on the collection and calculation of stormwater from solar panels. These policies are an effort to continue to advance clean energy. Our team has reviewed each of these items, some of which are now in effect, as follows:

Virginia Tax Exemption Legislation Law

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a new solar law. The Virginia Tax Exemption law allows for rooftop solar installation on residential buildings or on an agricultural zoned property to serve the electricity needs of the property. Such facilities will be wholly exempt from state and local taxation under the Constitution of Virginia. The exemption applies only to solar facilities with generating capacity of not more than 25 kilowatts. The bill will be effective on January 1, 2023.

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Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Stormwater Memo

The Virginia DEQ recently implemented a robust post-development stormwater management policy for solar projects that are subject to VSMP requirements. Under this new policy, solar panels are considered unconnected impervious areas when performing post-development water quality and using the Virginia Runoff Reduction Method. This new policy does not prohibit any alternative stormwater method. However, alternative methods are subject to review and will be accepted or denied based on technical adequacy and compliance. The new policy is now in effect.

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Maryland Climate Solutions Now Act

Maryland’s legislature recently passed an ambitious new climate bill known as the Climate Solutions Now Act, which sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 60% by 2031, and a long-term goal for the state’s economy to reach net-zero emissions by 2045. In addition to net-zero goals, the new legislation requires the formation of numerous working groups to study topics related to the energy transition. Those groups include the Just Transition Employment and Retraining Working Group, the Energy Industry Revitalization Working Group, the Energy Resilience and Efficiency Working Group, and the Solar Photovoltaic Systems Recovery, Reuse, and Recycling Working Group.

The act also incentivizes counties to build net-zero schools and focuses on increasing access to solar for low-to-moderate-income populations.

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