An official with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says the expiration date listed on certain documents related to proposed solar projects is part of the process.
“There is no expiration date for an NOI,” Aaron Proctor, Communications Manager for the DEQ said of a Notice of Intent. “NOIs may be withdrawn by the applicant but DEQ does not withdraw NOIs without a request from the applicant.”
At least one company — Fairy Stone Solar, LLC – has filed a Notice of Intent or NOI for a project in Patrick County, according to DEQ records which indicate the document was received on December 10, 2021. A notice was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on January 31, 2022, as required by law, according to previous reports.
At a recent meeting of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors, a resident said he received a copy of DEQ’s Small Renewable Energy Projects Local Governing Body Certification Form, which was dated Oct. 21, 2021, and signed by former county administrator Geri Hazelwood.
“The way I read it …, the state said that the letter of intent would expire on Feb. 9, 2022,” the resident said, adding that he believes the form is null and void if additional steps are not taken on the project.
While the form includes an expiry date, it “is only in regards to where it is posted on the Virginia Town Hall,” Proctor wrote in an emailed response to The Enterprise.
“NOIs received by DEQ are published in the Virginia Register and posted on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall. Notices on Town Hall are posted for 30 days on the Townhall General Notices page under the Board, Department of Environmental Quality.
“After the initial 30 days, the notices are moved to the archived notices page,” Proctor said. “We have NOIs that have been active for several years,” he added.
A study and survey are currently underway as part of the due diligence process for the project, according to Dominika Sink, Senior Director of Project Acquisition and Development with Energix, a renewables company.
To date, the DEQ has not received a PBR application or signed local governing body certification form for the project. The local governing form is usually submitted as part of the application package, which the agency also has not received, Proctor said.
However, that does not mean the company failed to comply with the provisions of the PBR, Proctor said.
“It means they have not submitted an application which would contain the 15 provisions. DEQ does not track the status of what a company has done to meet the 15 provisions prior to submittal of the application,” he said.
When asked whether certification forms are the first step in any project and if one form could be used repeatedly or whether it is limited in scope to the parcels of land identified on the form, Proctor wrote
that “each application received by DEQ must have a locality certification specific to the parcel of land covered by each specific project. Each application we receive has to have its own local certification.”
It is that requirement that prompted local officials to propose an amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan, County Attorney Mark Popovich has said.
The two parcels included on the certification form are 4811-37, owned by Five Rocks Cidery (Nash Heath), and 4911-7, owned by Nash Heath.
Sink said the remaining parcels — 4811-88 and 4811-88-A — are owned by Charles Hamm.
The solar company is planning to hold a community meeting on April 21 in Stuart to discuss the potential project in Patrick County, Sink said. Additional details about that meeting will be made available as soon as possible.
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