AN ACT TO REQUIRE (I) RESPONSIBLE DECOMMISSIONING OF UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR PROJECTS AND WIND ENERGY FACILITIES UPON CESSATION OF ACTIVITIES AND (II) RECYCLING OF ALL END-OF-LIFE PHOTOVOLTAIC 5 MODULES AND ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM BATTERIES LOCATED WITHIN THE STATE, AND PROHIBITING THEIR DISPOSAL IN LANDFILLS.
Enacts new GS 62-352 to make the owner or operator of a utility-scale solar project responsible for proper decommissioning of the project upon cessation of activities and reclamation of the property to its condition before the commencement of activities on the site no later than one year following completion of the operations. Defines utility-scale solar project as a ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV), concentrating photovoltaic (CPV), or concentrating solar power (CSP or solar thermal) project capable of generating one megawatt (MW) or more directly connected to the electrical grid for sale to wholesale customers. Requires the following, at a minimum, in decommissioning a project: (1) disconnect the solar project from the power grid and (2) remove all equipment from the solar project and collect and ship it to another project for reuse, or recycle all of the components, or properly dispose of components that will not be reused and can't be recycled. Requires the owner or operator to establish financial assurance in an amount acceptable to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that will ensure that sufficient funds are available for decommissioning of the facility and reclamation of the property to its condition before commencement of activities on the site. Requires DEQ to adopt rules containing criteria for setting the required amount of financial assurance and sets out additional requirements for these rules. The financial assurance requirements become effective January 1, 2020. In addition to requirements for recycling utility-scale solar project components, requires owners or operators to recycle each solar panel at the end of the panel's useful life. Requires conducting and documenting due diligence assessments of the recyclers that the owner or operator contracts with. Requires notifying DEQ within 30 days of cessation of activities, which must include a description of the steps to be taken to decommission the project and reclaim the site. Requires the Utilities Commission to annually provide DEQ with a list of all utility-scale solar projects operating within the state.
Amends GS 143-215.121 by adding a requirement that the owner or operator of a wind energy facility be responsible for decommissioning the facility upon cessation of activities and reclamation of the property to its condition before the commencement of activities on the site, no later than one year following completion of the operations. Requires the following, at a minimum, in decommissioning a project: (1) disconnect the facility from the power grid and (2) remove all equipment necessary for the facility's operation and collect and ship it to another project for reuse, or recycle all of the components, or properly dispose of components that will not be reused and can't be recycled. Maintains the financial assurance provisions that are currently in the statute. Also requires recycling equipment necessary for the operation of the facility at the end of the equipment's useful life. Requires conducting and documenting due diligence assessments of the recyclers that the owner or operator contracts with. Requires notifying DEQ within 30 days of cessation of activities, which must include a description of the steps to be taken to decommission the project and reclaim the site.
Adds new Part 2J, Management of Solar Energy Equipment, in Article 9 of GS Chapter 130A, which provides as follows. Sets out legislative findings concerning solar energy equipment and sets out and defines terms that are used in the new statute. Requires DEQ to develop guidance for a photovoltaic module stewardship and takeback program for manufacturers in preparing and implementing a self-directed program for the takeback and recycling of photovoltaic modules and their components and materials. Requires DEQ to establish a process to develop guidance for photovoltaic module stewardship plans by January 1, 2020, and requires that the process be fully implemented and guidance completed by July 1, 2020. Allows a manufacturer to designate a stewardship organization to act as an agent on its behalf in operating and implementing the stewardship program. Sets out notification requirements applicable to designated organizations. Requires manufacturers to submit a stewardship plan to DEQ by the later of January 1, 2021, or within 30 days of their first sale of a photovoltaic module in or into the state. Sets out five required components of the stewardship plan, including describing how the program will minimize the release of hazardous substances into the environment and maximize the recovery of other components, and provide for takeback of photovoltaic modules at locations within the region of the State in which the photovoltaic modules were used and are as convenient as reasonably practicable. Allows the stewardship plan to be amended periodically; sets out related requirements. Requires DEQ to approve, approve with modifications, or deny a stewardship plan no later than six months after receiving the plan. Allows an annual report to include recommendations to DEQ or the legislature on modifications to the program and requires that the report be posted on the manufacturer's or stewardship organization's public website. Prohibits a manufacturer from selling or offering for sale a photovoltaic module in or into the state unless the manufacturer has an approved stewardship plan, beginning July 1, 2021. Allows DEQ to send out notices of violation and assess penalties of up to $10,000 per sale. Requires manufacturers to pay a $2,500 registration fee valid through the last day of the fiscal year, and sets the renewal registration fee at the same amount. Registration fees are credited to the new Photovoltaic Module Management Fund to be used by DEQ to implement the program.
Effective when the act becomes law, requires DEQ to adopt temporary rules implementing the act's requirements by September 1, 2019. Requires DEQ to report to the specified NCGA commissions by September 1, 2019, on the status of the rulemaking and an estimate of money needed in order to implement a program to oversee the act's recycling requirements.
Includes a severability clause.
Unless otherwise indicated, effective September 1, 2019.