H1032B1041A01060 AJB:CDM 06/14/23 #90 A01060
AMENDMENTS TO HOUSE BILL NO. 1032
Sponsor: REPRESENTATIVE KEPHART
Printer's No. 1041
Amend Bill, page 1, lines 1 through 3, by striking out all of
said lines and inserting
Amending Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
Statutes, providing for decommissioning of solar energy
facilities; establishing the Solar for Schools Grant Program;
and providing for powers and duties of the Department of
Community and Economic Development.
Amend Bill, page 1, lines 6 through 16; pages 2 through 6,
lines 1 through 30; page 7, lines 1 through 9; by striking out
all of said lines on said pages and inserting
Section 1. Title 58 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
Statutes is amended by adding chapters to read:
CHAPTER 43
DECOMMISSIONING OF SOLAR ENERGY FACILITIES
Sec.
4301. Definitions.
4302. Requirements for solar energy facility agreements.
4303. Financial assurance requirements.
4304. Financial assurance forms and decommissioning plans.
4305. Preemption of local ordinances and regulations .
4306. Applicability of chapter.
§ 4301. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this chapter
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Banking institution." As defined in 7 Pa.C.S. § 6102
(relating to definitions).
"Commencement of construction." The moment when a grantee
issues a full notice to proceed order to the construction
contractor.
"Decommissioning plan." A document detailing the steps that
will be taken to decommission a solar energy facility and the
amount, form and timing of financial assurance that will be
provided by a grantee.
"Department." The Department of Environmental Protection of
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the Commonwealth.
"Grantee." The owner of a solar energy facility on leased
property.
"Letter of credit." As defined in 13 Pa.C.S. § 5102
(relating to definitions).
"Nameplate capacity." The maximum rated output of a
generator, prime mover or other electric power production
equipment under the specific conditions designated by the
manufacturer.
"Normal agricultural operation." As defined in section 2 of
the act of June 10, 1982 (P.L.454, No.133), referred to as the
Right-to-Farm Law.
"Professional engineer." As defined in section 2 of the act
of May 23, 1945 (P.L.913, No.367), known as the Engineer, Land
Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law.
"Solar energy facility." The development or construction of
a facility that utilizes solar energy to produce or distribute
energy.
"Solar energy facility agreement." A lease agreement between
a grantee and a surface property owner that authorizes the
grantee to operate a solar energy facility on leased property.
"USDA-NRCS." The United States Department of Agriculture-
Natural Resources Conservation Service.
§ 4302. Requirements for solar energy facility agreements.
(a) Requirements and prohibitions.--
(1) Except as provided under subsection (b), a solar
energy facility agreement executed on or after the effective
date of this paragraph shall provide that a grantee is
responsible for decommissioning the grantee's solar energy
facility on the surface property owner's property in
accordance with this chapter no later than 18 months after
the facility has ceased producing electricity.
(2) The decommissioning plan and associated financial
assurance may not be separated from the solar energy facility
through a change in grantee ownership to a new grantee. The
new grantee shall submit proof of financial assurance in
accordance with section 4303 (relating to financial assurance
requirements). The prior grantee may not release or revoke
the prior grantee's financial assurance until:
(i) the new grantee's proof of financial assurance
is filed with the county recorder of deeds; and
(ii) notice is provided to the surface property
owner party to the solar energy facility agreement.
(b) Exception.--Subsection (a) shall not apply to a grantee
who is actively working to recommence production of electricity,
including an instance following the occurrence of a force
majeure or similar event.
§ 4303. Financial assurance requirements.
(a) Plan, proof and notice .--A grantee who executes a solar
energy facility agreement on or after the effective date of this
subsection shall provide a decommissioning plan , submit proof of
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financial assurance from a banking institution or a Federal
credit union as defined in 17 Pa.C.S. § 103 (relating to
definitions) to the county recorder of deeds and provide notice
to the surface property owner party to the solar energy facility
agreement. The financial assurance shall conform to the
requirements under this chapter to secure the performance of the
grantee's obligation to decommission the grantee's solar energy
facility. If the grantee does not fulfill its obligation to
decommission the solar energy facility, the financial assurance
shall be made payable to the surface property owner.
(b) Amount.--The amount of financial assurance shall be
equal to the cost of decommissioning the solar energy facility
in accordance with section 4304(b) (relating to financial
assurance forms and decommissioning plans) and shall be
calculated and updated every five years by a third-party
professional engineer retained by the grantee from a list of
professional engineers compiled by the department and published
on the department's publicly accessible Internet website.
(c) Delivery.--A grantee shall deliver a decommissioning
plan and proof of financial assurance to the county recorder of
deeds in accordance with the following:
(1) No later than 30 days before the commencement of
construction of the solar energy facility, the grantee shall
provide the decommissioning plan and proof of financial
assurance to the county recorder of deeds in an amount equal
to 100% of the total cost of decommissioning as determined by
a third-party professional engineer.
(2) Upon an assignment of lease rights and obligations
to a new grantee.
(d) Financial assurance methods.--Acceptable methods of
financial assurance shall include a bond , an escrow account or
an irrevocable letter of credit from a banking institution in
accordance with subsection (a). The irrevocable letter of credit
may be terminated at the end of a solar energy facility
agreement only upon 90 days' prior written notice by the banking
institution to the grantee and surface property owner.
§ 4304. Financial assurance forms and decommissioning plans.
(a) Forms.--
(1) Within 180 days of the effective date of this
paragraph, the department shall, by regulation and in
consultation with the solar energy facility industry, develop
a provisional standard form for a decommissioning plan and
financial assurance to be filed with the county recorder of
deeds in accordance with this chapter. In order to facilitate
the prompt implementation of this chapter, regulations
promulgated to develop a provisional standard form under this
paragraph shall be deemed temporary regulations. Temporary
regulations promulgated under this paragraph shall not be
subject to any of the following:
(i) Section 612 of the act of April 9, 1929
(P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of
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1929.
(ii) Sections 201, 202, 203, 204 and 205 of the act
of July 31, 1968 (P.L.769, No.240), referred to as the
Commonwealth Documents Law.
(iii) Sections 204(b) and 301(10) of the act of
October 15, 1980 (P.L.950, No.164), known as the
Commonwealth Attorneys Act.
(iv) The act of June 25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181),
known as the Regulatory Review Act.
(2) After the promulgation of the temporary regulations
under paragraph (1), the department shall, by regulation and
in consultation with the solar energy facility industry,
develop a final standard form for a decommissioning plan and
financial assurance to be filed with the county recorder of
deeds in accordance with this chapter. The temporary
regulations under paragraph (1) shall expire upon the
promulgation of the final regulations under this paragraph or
two years after the effective date of this paragraph,
whichever is later.
(b) Contents.--The provisional standard form and final
standard form under subsection (a) shall include all of the
following provisions:
(1) Unless the surface property owner and grantee
mutually agree in writing on a solar condition for restoring
the property, the grantee's decommissioning plan shall
provide for all of the following:
(i) The removal of non-utility-owned equipment,
conduits, structures, fencing and foundations to a depth
of no less than three feet below grade. The grantee shall
not be required to remove equipment and materials that
the public utility requires to remain onsite.
(ii) The removal of graveled areas and access roads
unless the surface property owner requests in writing for
graveled areas and access roads to stay in place.
(iii) The restoration of the property to a condition
reasonably similar to the property's condition before the
commencement of construction, including the replacement
of topsoil removed or eroded on previously productive
agricultural land.
(iv) The reseeding of a cleared area, unless
requested in writing by the surface property owner to not
reseed due to plans for agricultural planting.
(2) The financial assurance specified under section
4303(c) (relating to financial assurance requirements).
(3) An attestation confirming the solar energy facility
does not unduly impact public resources, including, but not
limited to, the following:
(i) Publicly owned parks, forests, game lands and
wildlife areas.
(ii) National or State scenic rivers.
(iii) National natural landmarks.
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(iv) Habitats of rare and endangered flora and fauna
and other critical communities.
(v) Historical and archaeological sites listed on
the Federal or State list of historic places.
(vi) Sources used for public drinking supplies.
§ 4305. Preemption of local ordinances and regulations .
The regulation of the decommissioning of solar energy
facilities is a matter of general Statewide interest that
requires uniform Statewide regulation. This chapter and the
regulations promulgated under this chapter constitute a
comprehensive plan with respect to all aspects of solar energy
facility agreements, financial assurance and decommissioning
plans associated with solar energy facilities within this
Commonwealth. Any county, municipal or other local government
ordinance or regulation that materially impedes the purposes of
this chapter shall be preempted and shall be without force and
effect.
§ 4306. Applicability of chapter.
(a) Applicability.--This chapter shall apply to any of the
following:
(1) A grantee with a solar energy facility agreement to
utilize any of the following:
(i) Land with soil that meets the USDA-NRCS land
capability class I, II, III or IV, except for the land
capability class IV(e).
(ii) Land that meets the USDA-NRCS class of unique
farmland.
(iii) Land with soil that does not meet the USDA-
NRCS land capability class I, II, III or IV, but is
currently in active farm use and is being maintained in
accordance with the soil erosion and sedimentation plan
applicable to the land.
(2) A grantee with a solar energy facility agreement
utilizing more than 10 acres of land.
(b) Nonapplicability.--This chapter shall not apply to any
of the following:
(1) A solar energy facility with a nameplate capacity of
no more than two megawatts AC.
(2) A customer-generator as defined in section 2 of the
act of November 30, 2004 (P.L.1672, No.213), known as the
Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act.
(3) An owner or operator of a normal agricultural
operation who owns and operates a solar energy facility on
the normal agricultural operation premises, regardless of the
location or consumption of the energy generated.
CHAPTER 45
SOLAR FOR SCHOOLS ACT
Sec.
4501. Purpose.
4502. Definitions.
45 03. Solar for Schools Grant Program.
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§ 4501. Purpose.
The purpose of this chapter is to expand the use of solar
energy at school facilities in this Commonwealth to achieve the
following benefits:
(1) To help schools reduce their present and future
energy costs.
(2) To increase the resiliency of school energy systems.
(3) To help schools reduce their emissions of carbon
dioxide and other pollutants.
(4) To grow employment through good-paying jobs in the
solar industry.
(5) To maximize the Inflation Reduction Act's solar
energy investment tax credit for Pennsylvania.
§ 4502. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this chapter
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Department." The Department of Community and Economic
Development of the Commonwealth.
"Eligible applicant." Any of the following:
(1) A school district.
(2) An intermediate unit.
(3) An area career and technical school.
(4) A chartered school for the education of the deaf or
the blind.
(5) A community college.
(6) The Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.
(7) The Pennsylvania College of Technology.
"Eligible project costs." The term includes costs related to
the purchase and installation of equipment, including prepayment
in whole or in part of a solar lease or power purchase
agreement, permit fees, energy storage, utility interconnection
and any other costs approved by the department.
"Inflation Reduction Act." The Inflation Reduction Act of
2022 (Public Law 117-169, 136 Stat. 1818).
"Program." The Solar for Schools Grant Program established
under section 4503 (relating to Solar for Schools Grant
Program).
"School facility." An educational building and surrounding
premises owned by an eligible applicant.
"Solar energy project." A project at a school facility
related to photovoltaic or solar thermal devices that convert,
transfer or store solar energy in or into usable forms of
thermal or electric energy.
§ 45 03. Solar for Schools Grant Program.
(a) Establishment.--The Solar for Schools Grant Program is
established in the department to award grants to eligible
applicants on a competitive basis to the extent that money is
appropriated for this purpose.
(b) Use of grants.--A grant awarded under this section shall
be used by the eligible applicant for eligible project costs
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related to a solar energy project.
(c) Duties of department.--The department shall have the
following powers and duties:
(1) To establish guidelines necessary to implement this
chapter.
(2) To establish the process through which eligible
applicants may apply for grant money.
(3) To develop the minimum information to be included in
a solar feasibility assessment.
(4) To provide technical assistance to schools as
appropriate, including, but not limited to, conducting solar
assessments.
(5) To develop educational materials about using,
purchasing, financing and maintaining solar energy projects.
(6) To provide information related to funding
opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act.
(7) To enter into agreements with third-party entities,
including the Department of Environmental Protection, to
carry out the provisions of this chapter, including reviewing
applications and providing technical assistance.
(d) Application.--An eligible applicant shall submit an
application on a form and in a manner as determined by the
department. The following apply:
(1) The application shall include the result of a solar
feasibility assessment conducted by a qualified solar
installer.
(2) Prior to the time period established by the
department to submit an application, the department shall
solicit and fulfill requests for technical assistance from
eligible applicants.
(e) Prevailing wage requirement.--
(1) An employer or contractor contracted to complete a
solar energy project under the program shall pay the
prevailing minimum wage and benefit rates for all crafts or
classifications performing construction, reconstruction,
demolition, alteration and repair work, other than
maintenance work, on the solar energy project as determined
by the Department of Labor and Industry under the act of
August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania
Prevailing Wage Act, and as bid under the act of May 1, 1913
(P.L.155, No.104), referred to as the Separations Act.
(2) If the department or the Department of Labor and
Industry determines that an eligible applicant that received
a grant under the program failed to comply with the
Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act or the Separations Act, the
eligible applicant must refund to the department the total
amount of grants awarded for the solar energy project.
(f) Grant limits.--An eligible applicant may receive a grant
of up to 50% of the eligible project costs for the solar energy
project.
(g) Grant awards.--
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(1) The department, in its discretion, may award in
whole or in part a request made by an eligible applicant in
its grant application based upon the merit of a specific
component requested.
(2) The department shall give preference in award
decisions to eligible applicants seeking funding under the
Inflation Reduction Act.
(3) The department may give preference in award
decisions to applications demonstrating the greatest amount
of solar energy projected to be produced relative to the
existing energy usage at the school facility proposed for the
solar energy project.
(4) The department may give preference in award
decisions to school entities that qualify for the Low-Income
Communities Bonus Credit Program established under the
Inflation Reduction Act.
(5) The department shall ensure that money for the
program is geographically dispersed throughout this
Commonwealth based on the applications received.
(6) A grant award received by a school entity under this
section shall not be included when calculating the amount to
be paid to a charter school under section 1725-A of the act
of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School
Code of 1949.
(7) A grant award received under this section shall not
be contingent upon the applicant committing to transfer
ownership of any solar renewable energy credits generated by
a solar energy project.
(8) A grant award received under this section shall be
contingent upon the eligible applicant retaining ownership of
the equipment, including photovoltaic or solar thermal
devices, related to the solar energy project at the onset of
the purchase and installation of the equipment or at the
conclusion of a power purchase agreement or lease agreement
with a third party.
(h) Best practices.--An eligible applicant that receives a
grant under the program may:
(1) Use the energy cost savings from the solar energy
project to supplement, not supplant, existing spending on
school facility projects, including environmental and health
hazard remediation, indoor air quality improvements, heating,
ventilation and air conditioning upgrades, roof, window and
plumbing repairs or replacements, and emergency repairs.
(2) Integrate the solar energy project into the school's
educational curriculum, as appropriate.
(i) Reimbursement.--In the event that a school facility that
benefited from a grant under the program is leased or sold, the
eligible applicant that received the grant shall notify the
department, and the new owner of the school facility shall
reimburse the department the amount of the grant related to the
solar energy project at the school facility.
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(j) Guidelines.--Within 90 days of the effective date of
this section, the department shall publish the guidelines
required by subsection (c)(1) on the department's publicly
accessible Internet website.
(k) Audits.--The department may randomly audit and monitor
grant recipients to ensure the appropriate use of grant money
and compliance with the provisions of this section and
department guidelines established under subsection (c).
(l) Administrative fee.--The department may use money
appropriated for the program to pay for the direct costs
associated with the administration of the program, including
providing technical assistance.
Section 2. This act shall take effect as follows:
(1) The following shall take effect immediately:
(i) The addition of 58 Pa.C.S. § 4304.
(ii) This section.
(2) The addition of 58 Pa.C.S. Ch. 45 shall take effect
July 1, 2023, or immediately, whichever is later.
(3) The remainder of this act shall take effect in 180
days.
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See A01060 in
the context
of HB1032