Then

On February 10th, 2016, Representative Jimmy Dixon (R- Duplin, Onslow) delivered the opening remarks to the Environmental Review Commission (ERC) about the disposal of solar panels, and the Commission proceeded to learn about the decommissioning process. NCSEA, the NC Public Utilities Public Staff, First Solar, and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) presented to the Commission in order to provide analysis on questions posed by the ERC. The topics covered in the presentations included:

  1. How to ensure proper decommissioning and closure of existing or future-built solar facilities;
  2. Whether or not any materials used in utility-scale solar projects are classified as hazardous material;
  3. Whether or not solar panels can be safely disposed of in landfills; 
  4. The economic feasibility and availability of recycling solar panels;
  5. Whether or not a solar field could be placed back into use for agriculture crop production;
  6. The life cycle of solar panels; and
  7. Other states’ decommissioning policies.

Here is the link to the solar presentation from DEQ that includes information about decommissioned panels, andhere is the link to the presentation that NCSEA delivered. In them, each of the topics was covered, and members of the Commission had ample opportunity to ask questions. Here are the minutes to that meeting, and here is the handout from NCSEA that members during the committee received.

The meeting was nearly three hours long, and in conclusion, as the meeting minutes recorded:

 “Representative Dixon stated that he was pleased with the discussion today, and the previous stakeholder meeting, for the decommissioning of solar panels.”

And Now

On March 28th, 2019, Representative Jimmy Dixon introduced House Bill 479, which would require the Environmental Review Commission to study the decommissioning of solar panels. The proposed study is tasked with analyzing the following topics:

  1. How to ensure proper decommissioning and closure of existing or future-built solar facilities;
  2. Whether or not any materials used in utility-scale solar projects are classified as hazardous material;
  3. Whether or not solar panels can be safely disposed of in landfills;
  4. The economic feasibility and availability of recycling solar panels;
  5. Whether or not a solar field could be placed back into use for agriculture crop production;
  6. The life cycle of solar panels; and
  7. Other states’ decommissioning policies.

Does this sound familiar? If you are experiencing déjà vu, you are not alone. Virtually every topic that Representative Dixon seeks to address in his study were laid out before the Environmental Review Commission, which Dixon chaired, in 2016.

This study is a redundant, poor use of the Environmental Review Commission staff’s time, and ultimately wasteful spending on behalf of the taxpayer. NCSEA fully supports studies that explore the impacts of renewable energy, even if they present challenges, but House Bill 479 is just replowing old ground.

If you have any questions about the Solar Decommissioning Study, please reach out to NCSEA’s Government Affairs Associate Ben Stockdale.

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