Solar Environment in Nevada
At a Glance
|Environmental Review Process:||Nevada Utility Environmental Protection Act|
|Environmental Review Agency:||Nevada Division of Environmental Protection|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Leasing Stage):|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Non-invasive Exploration):|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Invasive Exploration):|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Drilling):|
|Type of State Environmental Review (Power Plant Siting):||Nevada Utility Environmental Protection Act review process for renewable energy facilities over 70 MW and transmission lines of at least 200 kV.|
|Contacts/Agencies:||Nevada Division of Environmental Protection|
State Environment Process
Nevada Utility Environmental Protection Act Process
For utility-scale solar projects in Nevada exceeding a capacity of 70 megawatts and associated transmission lines of at least 200 kV (hereafter “utility facilities”), developers must comply with the Nevada Utility Environmental Protection Act (UEPA): NRS 704.820 et seq. The developer must submit an application to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUC) for a UEPA permit. The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources must review the application, but the PUC decides whether to approve or deny the permit after the appropriate environmental studies have been conducted and a hearing has taken place. Within the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Division of Environmental Protection has jurisdiction over the administration of environmental issues in the state.
Cultural Resource Assessment
Typically, early consultation and close coordination with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is necessary to prevent the inadvertent disruption of a historical site. The Nevada State Office of Energy (NSOE) offers resources, available on their website, to assist developers with cultural considerations for energy projects. The SHPO is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering, and protecting historical properties and resources in Nevada. For certain projects, SHPO consultation may include meeting with potentially affected Indian tribes. If, during project operations, the developer makes an inadvertent discovery of human remains or a tribal burial site, the developer must notify the SHPO Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.
Biological Resource Assessment
Nevada has a particular state notification and review process for all energy projects with a capacity of 10 megawatts or greater that may affect state biological resources. The process is governed by NRS 701.600 et seq.
If the energy project is under 10 megawatts (MWs), the impact is presumed to be insignificant and exempt from the environmental process under NRS 701.600 et seq. If the energy project is 10MW or more, developers must provide a Notice of Energy Development Project to the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW). Within 30 days, the NDOW forwards a copy of the Notice to the Nevada State Office of Energy. Depending on the project’s potential impact to biological resources, the developer may need to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan and/or apply for an Incidental Take Permit.
Nevada has a recoupment program to reimburse the NDOW for the cost of consultation. The developer pays a particular recoupment fee before consultation with the NDOW begins.
Water Resource Assessment
Solar developers may be required to obtain several permits related to water quality issues, including permits for nonpoint source pollution, NPDES permitting, 401 water quality certification, and waste discharge.
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) administers a voluntary regulatory Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program to control the impacts of nonpoint source pollution. The NDEP program consists of public awareness, cooperation with other agencies and land owners, and the application of Best Management Practices (BMPs). Developers may choose to comply with the program.
Developers must comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements if their project will discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States. Nevada has been granted authority by the Environmental Protection Agency to administer the NPDES program within the state. The NDEP issues NPDES permits in accordance with EPA regulations and NAC 445A.031. Generally, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain NPDES permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters. Stormwater discharge permits are required for certain activities by EPA regulations at 40 CFR § 122.26(b)(14).
Developers must obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification from the NDEP if their project implicates any federal license or permit issued to construct or operate a facility which may result in any fill or discharge into navigable waters of the United States. The NDEP must ensure that the project will comply with the Clean Water Act, and NRS 445A.620.
Finally, the NDEP protects groundwater quality through issuing Groundwater Discharge Permits under NAC 445A.228 for activities that impact groundwater quality such as surface disposal, septic systems, unlined ponds, overland flow, reuse and irrigation. If the project will impact groundwater in any of the aforementioned ways, the developer must obtain a Groundwater Discharge Permit.
Waste and Hazardous Material Assessment Process
For projects that require the installation of an underground storage tank, developers are required to obtain approval from the NDEP. Developers may also be required to obtain a Hazardous Waste Permit and a Waste Disposal Permit.
The NDEP administers the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Program for the State of Nevada. Before any underground storage activities commence, the developer must notify the NDEP. NRS 459.800
Developers must obtain a Hazardous Waste Permit from the NDEP if their project facility will treat, store, dispose, or transport hazardous waste. NAC 444.8458. In such cases, developers must submit a Hazardous Waste Part A Permit Application to NDEP for review. Following review, the NDEP will issue a Hazardous Waste Permit. Nevada adopts by reference, with certain modifications, Federal hazardous waste regulations. NAC 444.8458.
Within the NDEP, the Bureau of Waste Management (BWM) has a streamlined permitting process for Class III, industrial solid waste disposal, for renewable energy sources. A Class III industrial solid waste disposal permit may be required for a renewable energy resource facility if the facility generates non-hazardous industrial waste and chooses to dispose of the waste at the facility. Construction waste may also be placed in an appropriately permitted Class III disposal facility. In general, a Class III Permit must be obtained from the BWM prior to construction of any industrial solid waste disposal facility in Nevada.
Local Environment Process
Policies & Regulations
- 16 U.S.C. 470w
- An Introduction to Electric Power Transmission
- CHAT: Crucial Habitat Assessment Tools
- EPA Hazardous Waste TSDF Guide
- EPA State Manifest Requirements
- Environmental Recommendations for Transmission Planning
- Hazardous Waste Part A Permit Application
- NDEP BMP Guide
- NDEP BWPC Website
- NDEP BWQP website
- NDEP Forms
- Nevada Agreement for Delegation of Federal PSD Program
- Nevada Air Quality Control Permitting Guidance Webpage
- Nevada Air Quality Permitting Webpage
- Nevada Application For Renewable Energy System Generators
- Nevada Archaeological Association Website
- Nevada Bureau of Air Pollution Control Permit Forms Webpage
- Nevada Bureau of Pollution Control Webpage
- Nevada Department of Environmental Protection Public Notices
- Nevada Department of Wildlife Application for Energy Projects "Fund for the Recovery of Costs"
- Nevada Department of Wildlife Energy Planning and Conservation Fund Website
- Nevada Division of Water Resources Forms Webpage
- Nevada Fish & Wildlife Habitat Conservation Plans
- Nevada Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Traditional Cultural Properties Webpage
- Nevada Industrial Solid Waste Disposal Site Permit Application
- Nevada Permitting Renewable Energy Resources
- Nevada Renewable Energy Application For Net Metering Customers
- Nevada Sample Application for Permit Under Utility Environmental Protection Act
- Nevada Solid Waste Forms and Guidance Documents Webpage
- Nevada State Air Regulations and State Implementation Plan Webpage
- Nevada State Certified Tank Handler Webpage
- Nevada State Clearinghouse
- Nevada State Historic Preservation Office Webpage
- Nevada State Protocol Agreement for Implementing the National Historic Preservation Act
- Nevada Underground Tank Program Webpage
- Nevada Washoe County Solid Waste Management Webpage
- Notification for Underground Storage Tanks (EPA Form 7530-1)
- Southern Nevada Health District
- Streamlined Permitting Process for Renewable Energy Resources in Nevada
- UEPA Guide for Applicants - Electric Facilities
- UEPA Guide for Applicants – Electric Facilities