Community Solar Prohibitions Eyed by Joint Committee

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Community Solar

The Montgomery County Council is eyeing current community solar prohibitions. The council is seeking further engagement from stakeholders regarding the ZTA 20-01 Solar Collection System AR Zone Standard, which puts limitations on community solar facilities on 1,800 acres of a 90,000-plus acre plot of land in Virginia’s Agricultural Reserve.

An Oct. 13, 2020 Workdsession with the county council was held to look at new recommendations issued by the Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee, as well as the Transportation and Environment (T&E) Committee. These recommendations are directly related to the community solar prohibitions placed by ZTA 20-01 standards. The Oct. 13 meeting comes months after a March 3, 2020 public hearing and three PHED and T&E Committee meetings. 

Despite the attention placed on ZTA 20-01 and the considerable residential, environmental, and municipal benefits provided by community solar, the council consented to further engagement from stakeholders. To follow through with the council’s decision, Council President Sidney Katz and PHED Chair Hans Riemer will host stakeholder meetings starting in November 2020. A virtual town hall meeting was held on Nov. 5 to kick off the first session, with Katz and Riemer hosting. 

During this first session, stakeholders had the chance to voice their opinions on ZTA 20-01 and provide amendment suggestions that may further prohibit or ultimately allow community solar construction. Additional meetings will take place throughout the remainder of the year. Members of the community are encouraged to sit in on future meetings.

Once all meetings are held, a workgroup of stakeholders will be selected and, with the assistance of Council staff, will continue to hold meetings to discuss additional details. The primary focus will be amending ZTA 20-01 and the status of the Agricultural Reserve that may be affected by community solar installations. 

All suggestions and amendment requests will be sent to the committee of PHED and T&E, at which point a vote will take place on any promised amendments. The committee should have all recommendations on ZTA 20-10 voted on by January 2021 to allow Montgomery County the ability to move forward on potential community solar projects in the near future.


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