Solar Energy Development and High-Value Agricultural Land:
Request for Stakeholder Input
October 6, 2023
In 2023, the Maine Legislature passed LD 1881 (P.L. 2023, Chapter 448) – An Act Regarding Compensation Fees and Related Conservation Efforts to Protect Soils and Wildlife and Fisheries Habitat from Solar and Wind Energy Development and High-impact Electric Transmission Lines Under the Site Location of Development Laws.
Pursuant to this new law, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is granted new permitting authority over certain solar energy development projects. No solar energy development five (5) acres or greater may be constructed wholly or partially on ‘high-value agricultural land’ after September 1, 2024, without a permit from DACF. DACF is directed to adopt routine technical rules regarding solar energy permitting definitions, administration, standards, delegation of authority, and enforcement.
As part of its rulemaking effort, DACF, in consultation with the Governor’s Energy Office and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), must:
- Define high-value agricultural land;
- Define dual-use agricultural and solar production;
- Establish tiers of high-value agricultural land with variable compensation amounts to be administered by DEP;
- Establish rules to define the administrative process for permitting;
- Develop standards for dual-use solar;
- Establish standards and conditions for delegating permitting authority to the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) and municipalities; and
- Establish permit program enforcement parameters.
The Department seeks input from the public regarding these specific definitions, activities, standards, and parameters. The Department will review all input before proposing routine technical rules required under this permitting program established under P.L. 2023, Chapter 448. At that time, a public comment period will open, inviting further input and feedback for the Department to consider before any final rule adoption.
Please provide your feedback to the Department by emailing it to DACF at email@example.com by November 10, 2023.
Thank you for your input.