A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A SYSTEM OF PERMITS FOR THE SITING AND OPERATION OF WIND ENERGY FACILITIES.
Amends GS 62-2(b) (Declaration of policy section of the Public Utilities Act), providing that the provision of greater energy security will be in a manner compatible with the efficient use of resources and the state's military and economic interests.
Amends GS Chapter 143 by adding a new article, Article 21C (Permitting of Wind Energy Facilities).
Creates GS 143-215.115 (Definitions), providing the definitions and terms to be used in this article, in addition to those set forth in GS 143-212.
Creates GS 143-215.116 (Permit to site wind energy facilities), establishing that no activities associated with a wind energy facility are to take place in North Carolina without a permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Department).
Creates GS 143-215.117 (Permit pre-application site evaluation meeting; notice; pre-application package requirements; annual review of military presence), providing timeline and purpose for pre-application site evaluation meeting, which must occur no less than 120 days prior to filing an application for a permit to construct, operate, or expand a wind energy facility. Provides the reasons and uses behind a pre-application site evaluation meeting. Requires that no less than 45 days prior to the date of the permit pre-application site evaluation meeting, the applicant must submit a pre-application package to the Department. Provides what the pre-application package must contain, including a map of the approximate location of the proposed wind energy facility and a narrative description of the proposed wind energy facility or expansion. Requires the Department to send a written notice of pre-application site meeting to various state and federal agencies and departments no less than 14 days prior to the date of the meeting.
Creates GS 143-215.118 (Permit application scoping meeting and notice), providing that no less than 30 days prior to filing an application for a permit for a wind energy facility, the applicant must request the scheduling of a scoping meeting. No less than 21 days before the scoping meeting, the Department must send a written notice of the meeting to various state and federal agencies and departments.
Creates GS 143-215.119 (Permit application requirements; fees; notice of receipt of completed permit; public hearing; public comment), establishing 15 items that a permit application for a proposed wind energy facility or expansion must contain, including a copy of a deed, purchase agreement, lease agreement, or other legal device demonstrating right to construct or expand and any other data or information the Department may reasonably require. Establishes an application fee of $3,500. Provides that within 10 days of receiving a complete permit application, the Department must provide notice of the application to various nearby commanding military officers and the local government of the proposed site. Establishes what the notice of the permit application must include and that within 10 days of receiving a request, affected entities must be provided with a copy of the filed permit, supplemented by any changes or amendments to the original permit application. The Department must also hold public hearings in each county in which the proposed facility or expansion is to be located. Provides the process and procedure for the public hearing and comment, including the parties required to receive written notice of the hearing no less than 30 days before the hearing.
Creates GS 143-215.120 (Criteria for permit approval; time frame; permit conditions; other approvals required), providing that the Department must approve an application for a permit for a proposed wind energy facility or expansion unless it finds one of the eight listed impediments exists, including the construction or operation of such a facility or expansion would have a significant adverse impact on fish or wildlife or such construction is inconsistent with or violates rules adopted by the Department or any other provision of law. The Department must make a final decision regarding the permit application within 90 days following the receipt of a completed application. If additional information was requested for the completed application, the Department will make a final decision within 30 days of receipt of the requested information. If the application is denied, the Department will issue a written statement providing the reasons for denial and any modifications that would make the application acceptable. Provides the Department can include, as a condition of a permit, a requirement that the permit holder mitigate any adverse impacts.
Creates GS 143-215.121 (Financial assurance requirements), providing that an applicant for a permit will establish financial assurance that will ensure that there are sufficient funds available for decommission of the facility and reclamation of the property to its original presence. Applicant can use any variety of insurance, letters of credit, trusts, surety bonds, or any other device to show proof of this financial protection.
Creates GS 143-215.122 (Monitoring and reporting), requiring applicant to submit to the Department annually any post-construction monitoring.
Creates GS 143-215.123 (Annual review of military presence), requiring the Department to consult, at least once per year, with representatives of the major Department of Defense installations to review information regarding military operations and plans potentially affected by the permit and facility.
Creates GS 143-215.124 (Record keeping), providing that the Department will serve as custodian of records.
Creates GS 143-215.125 (Rule making), prompting the Environmental Management Commission to adopt any rules necessary for the implementation of this Article.
Creates GS 143-215.126 (Civil penalties), describing the various civil penalties that can be accessed for noncompliance with this Article.
Effective when the act becomes law and applies only to those wind energy facilities or wind energy facility expansions that have not received a written "Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation" issued by the Federal Aviation Administration on or before that date.
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