More Standards Designed to Stop Solar
Approximately forty local landowners, along with other interested citizens who appreciate the potential of well-regulated solar have formed a group we call Limestone Solar.
We have identified 38 changes to improve the JPC’s Sept 2021 draft solar ordinance. These changes are modeled on the KY Model Solar ordinance and the Dec 2020 draft solar ordinance circulated by Judge Pfeffer.
This page discussed – Decommissioning Standards and Conditional
The Oct 2021 Draft proposed – “414.13 Discontinuation and Abandonment
- All industrial scale SES shall be considered a discontinued use after one (1) year without energy production, unless a plan is developed and submitted to the Planning and Zoning Administrator outlining the steps and schedule for returning the SES to service. The Planning Commission may, at its discretion after one year of discontinued production, initiate an action to recommend to the Executive authority that it act to exercise the financial assurance to effect a decommissioning.
- Cost Estimates. The applicant or successor shall provide a contractor cost estimate for demolition and removal of the SES. The cost estimates shall be made by a competent party: such as a professional engineer, a contractor capable of decommissioning or a person with suitable expertise or experience with decommissioning industrial scale SES.
- Financial Assurance. Prior to commencement of construction the applicant or its successor, as defined, will provide to the Executive of the appropriate jurisdiction a financial assurance for the cost of decommissioning SES facilities and related improvements to be constructed under the permit. The financial assurance shall be in the form of a performance bond, surety bond, letter of credit or other security instrument mutually acceptable to the Executive and the Applicant or Applicant’s Successor.
- Abandonment by the Applicant or Successor. Written assurance that in the event of abandonment by the applicant or successor, the applicant or successor will provide an affidavit to the Executive of the appropriate jurisdiction representing that all easements and/or property leases for SES facilities shall contain terms that provide financial assurances, including access to the salvage value of the equipment, for the property owners to ensure that SES facilities are properly decommissioned within one (1) year of expiration or earlier of termination of the SES Project.
- Revegetation and soil de-compacting. Procedures for the removal of any temporary roads constructed for the purposes of decommissioning, the grading and reseeding of any disturbed areas with native vegetation, and the decompaction of soils on land zoned for agricultural use.
- Updates. The Decommissioning Plan shall be updated every five years in order to update information likely to change, including contractor demolition/removal costs, planned SES project life, property easements and leases, and financial assurance(s)
- Discontinuation and Abandonment
All industrial scale SES shall be considered a discontinued use after one (1) year without energy production, unless a plan is developed and submitted to the Planning and Zoning Administrator outlining the steps and schedule for returning the SES to service. The Planning Commission may, at its discretion after one year of discontinued production, initiate an action to recommend to the Executive authority that it act to exercise the financial assurance to effect a decommissioning
- Removal. An applicant or successor’s obligations shall include removal of all physical material pertaining to the project improvements to no less than a depth of four (4) feet below ground level within three hundred sixty-five (365) days of the discontinuation or abandonment of the SES or SES Project, and restoration of the project area to as near as practicable to a condition similar to its previous use immediately before construction of such improvements. Below ground level is understood to be from the existing grade. Covering with fill material does not constitute removal. Removal obligations shall be completed by the applicant or successor or by the City at the former’s expense.
- Written notices. Prior to implementation of procedures to effect the financial guarantee the appropriate Executive authority shall provide notice to the owner/operator according to the terms of the required Decommissioning Plan Agreement. The owner of the project must provide notice to the appropriate
- Executive authority of its intention to change ownership, abandon, decommission or suspend operations of a utility scale SES project.
- Costs incurred by the City or County. If the City or County removes a SES structure and appurtenant facilities, it may sell the salvage to defray the costs of removal. By acceptance of a building permit, the applicant or operator grants a license to the appropriate Executive authority to enter the property to remove SES structures and appurtenant facilities pursuant to the terms of an approved decommissioning plan.
Mason County’s WES regulation was drafted to make Wind uneconomical in Mason County. Being assured that no one would apply under the WES rules, there was no reason to ensure a WES was built to coexist with its community.
Using the Conditional Use process is our best alternative to consider each SES on its own merit. Because Solar is a complex land-use. Adopting the Conditional-Use regulations set forth in the Ky Model Solar Ordinance is our best way to ensure that well-regulated solar ill benefit Mason County citizens.
Other than as specifically approved by the appropriate Board of Adjustment upon application and notice, decommissioning shall begin no later than twelve (12) months after a Ground Mounted SES has ceased to generate electricity or thermal energy:
- a. If the Ground Mounted SES was a permitted use without a conditional use permit, all structures and facilities associated with the SES shall be removed within twelve (12) months of the beginning of decommissioning. All materials shall be recycled or otherwise reused to the extent reasonably practicable, and the disturbed areas shall be reclaimed, revegetated, and restored consistent with the zoning classification of the property. Removal entails either complete removal of all foundations and below grade equipment or removal to a depth of no less than three feet below-grade.
- b. If the Ground Mounted SES was allowed under a conditional use permit, the SES shall be decommissioned according to the decommissioning plan approved in the Conditional Use Permit.
- c. A performance bond shall be secured and provided to cover the costs for local municipalities or a designated party or parties to remove the SES facility in the case of bankruptcy of the owner of the facility. The bond shall be refunded once decommissioning and removal of equipment consistent with this Ordinance is completed.
Conditional Use Permit Application Requirements
- (1) Applications for an SES requiring a conditional use permit shall include the following information:
- a. Name, address, telephone number, and email address (if available) of the applicant, the project owner, and the project operator.
- b. The address of the property on which the SES will be located and the property owner’s name, address, telephone number, and email address if available.
- c. Documentation, such as a deed, lease, or other agreement with the landowner, demonstrating the applicant’s right to use and control the property.
- d. A topographic map that depicts vegetative cover, watersheds, floodplains, and other geographic information about the property and surrounding area
- e. A conceptual description of the project, including the maximum number of modules, mounting type (fixed-tilt or tracking), system height, system capacity, total land area covered by the system, and information about all associated structures or facilities such as transformers, substations, feeder lines, and battery storage. Plans for possible expansion of the facility must be declared at the conditional use permit application public hearing; if no expansion plans are presented in the public hearing, no subsequent expansions of the facility are permitted without the application and granting of subsequent conditional use permits.
- f. A conceptual site plan including property lines, zoning classification of the property and all adjacent properties, existing buildings and proposed structures, the proposed location of the solar equipment, transmission lines, any associated structures and facilities, and substations. The conceptual site plan shall also identify existing and proposed temporary or permanent roads, drives, and parking, fencing or other methods to ensure public safety, and a visual buffer plan demonstrating how proposed visual buffers will effectively screen the proposed SES from neighboring properties.
- g. Information demonstrating that approval of the SES will not result in any disproportionate individual or cumulative environmental burden on low-income communities or communities of color.
- h. A decommissioning plan prepared by a registered professional engineer, and updated every five (5) years, containing the following:
- The anticipated life of the project and defined conditions upon which decommissioning will be initiated;
- The estimated decommissioning cost, including removal of the SES and related foundations, pads, underground collector lines and roads, and the salvage value of any equipment in current dollars and the calculations supporting the decommissioning estimate. The estimated salvage value of the material using current, publicly available material indices and/or firm quotes from a decommissioning or recycling company experienced in the decommissioning of SES, shall be provided, and the relevant Board of Adjustment shall consider the salvage value identified in subsection h(2) in computing the amount, if any, of financial assurance required under subsection h(5).
- The manner in which the project will be decommissioned, including provision and a timetable for the removal of all structures and foundations, and for the revegetation and restoration of the property to its original condition or a condition compatible with the zoning of the parcel(s);
- The party or parties responsible for decommissioning;
- A performance bond, letter of credit, or other financial assurance payable to either the City of Maysville or the Mason County Fiscal Court sufficient to cover the net costs identified in subsection h(2) and to assure that decommissioning of the site can be achieved by a third party in the event that a permittee defaults in that obligation;
- A copy of any lease containing specific agreements regarding decommissioning with the landowner.
- Proof of adequate casualty and liability insurance covering installation and operation of the SES;
- An environmental impact study of the proposed SES facility, including its potential effects on local vegetation and wildlife, if any, as well as its potential effects on adjoining properties and public roads with respect to water runoff and drainage, and including a description of the measures that will be taken to minimize erosion and sedimentation, and to promptly stabilize and revegetate disturbed areas with native vegetation.
- Where the applicant for a Conditional Use Permit is also seeking a construction certification pursuant to KRS 278.700 – 278.716, the applicant may submit a copy of a complete state siting board application and site assessment report meeting the requirements of KRS 278.706 and 278.7008 in lieu of the above requirements of Section 6 a-g.
- A conditional use permit issued by the appropriate Board of Adjustment shall include, at a minimum, all requirements of Section 6 of this Ordinance, and any additional conditions deemed by the Board necessary or appropriate pursuant to KRS 100.237 to allow the proper integration of the proposed SES into the zone and location in which it is proposed.
Public Notice and Public Comment
Public notice of an application for a Conditional Use Permit for a Ground-Mounted SES shall conform to the public notice requirements generally applicable to conditional use permit applications. The public notice and hearing requirements of this Chapter shall be in addition to and independent of any local hearing conducted pursuant to KRS 278.712 [BM3]