Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Substitute Bill No. 350

    February Session, 2018

 

*_____SB00350ENV___032318____*

AN ACT REQUIRING THE POSTING OF A DECOMMISSIONING BOND FOR CERTAIN SOLAR PROJECTS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsection (a) of section 16-50k of the 2018 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of section 16-50z, no person shall exercise any right of eminent domain in contemplation of, commence the preparation of the site for, commence the construction or supplying of a facility, or commence any modification of a facility, that may, as determined by the council, have a substantial adverse environmental effect in the state without having first obtained a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need, hereinafter referred to as a "certificate", issued with respect to such facility or modification by the council. Certificates shall not be required for (1) fuel cells built within the state with a generating capacity of two hundred fifty kilowatts or less, or (2) fuel cells built out of state with a generating capacity of ten kilowatts or less. Any facility with respect to which a certificate is required shall thereafter be built, maintained and operated in conformity with such certificate and any terms, limitations or conditions contained therein. Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter or title 16a, the council shall, in the exercise of its jurisdiction over the siting of generating facilities, approve by declaratory ruling (A) the construction of a facility solely for the purpose of generating electricity, other than an electric generating facility that uses nuclear materials or coal as fuel, at a site where an electric generating facility operated prior to July 1, 2004, and (B) the construction or location of any fuel cell, unless the council finds a substantial adverse environmental effect, or of any customer-side distributed resources project or facility or grid-side distributed resources project or facility with a capacity of not more than sixty-five megawatts, as long as: (i) Such project meets air and water quality standards of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, (ii) the council does not find a substantial adverse environmental effect, and (iii) for a solar photovoltaic facility with a capacity of two or more megawatts, to be located on prime farmland or forestland, excluding any such facility that was selected by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in any solicitation issued prior to July 1, 2017, pursuant to section 16a-3f, 16a-3g or 16a-3j, the Department of Agriculture represents, in writing, to the council that such project will not materially affect the status of such land as prime farmland or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection represents, in writing, to the council that such project will not materially affect the status of such land as core forest. In conducting an evaluation of a project for purposes of subparagraph (B)(iii) of this subsection, the Departments of Agriculture and Energy and Environmental Protection may consult with the United States Department of Agriculture and soil and water conservation districts. If the council approves a facility described in subparagraph (B)(iii) of this subsection, the council shall require the posting of a decommissioning bond by the person seeking such certificate in an amount sufficient to restore such prime farmland to a productive agricultural condition or to restore such land as core forest, as applicable.

Sec. 2. (Effective from passage) The Commissioner of Agriculture shall convene a working group to develop a recommendation for the standard to be applied by the Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection and Agriculture in evaluating the effect of solar photovoltaic facilities pursuant to subparagraph (B)(iii) of subsection (a) of section 16-50k of the general statutes. Such deliberation shall include, but not be limited to, a consideration of whether such standard shall be that such project will not materially affect the status of such land as prime farmland or core forest or whether such standard shall be that such project will not permanently affect the status of such land as prime farmland or core forest. Such working group shall consist of the Commissioner of Agriculture, or the commissioner's designee, a representative of the solar industry, a representative of the Connecticut Farm Bureau, the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, or the commissioner's designee, and a representative of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station who shall have expertise in soil restoration. The Commissioner of Agriculture shall submit such recommendation to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the environment not later than January 1, 2019.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2018

16-50k(a)

Sec. 2

from passage

New section

ENV

Joint Favorable Subst.