State law requires solar plant |

State law requires solar plant

The question seems simple on its face. Why can’t large solar voltaic facilities be located out in the Nevada desert where there aren’t any neighbors to be bothered by them?

The answer has a lot to do with getting these projects through the federal approval process, running power lines from the middle of the desert to someplace where they can be connected to the grid and a variety of other reasons that boil down to cost.

Which is the reason Douglas County is having this discussion. In 2013, the Nevada Legislature passed a law that required the counties have the means to approve a 10-megawatt or better renewable energy plant.

In the debate over the bill, lawmakers expressed concern that counties were preventing projects by including onerous requirements, including in one instance insisting the developer maintain the community’s roads for five years.

The law also requires the county to have a process for permitting a renewable energy facility outside of the master plan. Under the law, the plant can’t be in the proximity of a school, hospital or residential area denser than two units per acre.

County commissioners have denied one solar plant, and established a moratorium on any other for up to one year while they work the kinks out of the current ordinance.

Whatever commissioners do on Thursday, it will be two years before the 2017 Legislature could repeal the state law.

That means even with a year moratorium, the county will have to have an ordinance that allows developers to seek a permit to place a solar generation plant on private property.

Which means, in a paraphrase of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s immortal line from “Terminator,” “It’ll be back.”