North Carolina bill would tighten renewable energy permit requirements

Legislation recently proposed in the North Carolina Senate would increase requirements for siting and operating renewable energy projects in the state.

The short title of Senate Bill 843 is Renewable Energy Property Protection. It is described as an act to prevent interference with property rights, environmental damage and harms to public health “resulting from the siting and operation of renewable energy facilities.”

The measure is co-sponsored by Sen. Bill Cook (R-District 1) and Sen. Andrew Brock (R-District 34). A webpage for North Carolina lawmakers lists Cook’s occupation as being retired from Potomac Electric Power. Brock has also announced plans to run for Congress.

The bill would require a “permit pre-application site evaluation meeting” be requested at least 180 days prior to filing a permit application to build, operate or expand a renewable energy facility. The meeting must actually be held at least 120 days prior to filing the application.

The proposal also calls for a “scooping meeting” at least 21 days prior to filing an application with military officials (in areas with military bases) or representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or North Carolina Wildlife Commission.

“A wind or renewable energy facility shall be sited no nearer than one and one-half miles from the property line of any adjacent parcels. The one and one-half mile setback requirement shall not apply to adjacent parcels having common ownership with the facility or the parcel where the facility is situated,” according to a draft of the bill.

“A wind or renewable energy facility shall maintain a minimum setback of at least two and one-half times the height of a turbine from all easements and the right-of-way of any roadway maintained by the State or a municipality,’ the proposal goes on to say.

The measure was introduced May 10. As of May 11, the proposal was forwarded to the Senate Committee on Rules and Operations.

Iberdrola Renewables is building North Carolina’s first utility-scale wind power project, a 208-MW facility in Pasquotank County that will provide electricity to an affiliate of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). North Carolina already has a significant solar power business.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.