Governor Kristi Noem, R-S.D., signed SB15, a bill aimed at streamlining permit procedures for wind and solar energy facilities and assisting the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) with managing its docket.
“Harnessing South Dakota’s sunshine and wind is critical to expanding clean, renewable energy solutions,” said Noem. “But like any industry, renewable energy production cannot thrive under heavy regulation and long approval processes.”
SB15 clarifies that the Public Utilities Commission has authority to ensure wind and solar energy facilities are permitted in a timely fashion and with public safety in mind. All projects permitted under SDCL 49-41B will benefit from the updated process. The bill also strikes duplication of efforts done at the local level.
This bill is a commonsense approach from industry experts, legislators, and the Commission to reduce regulatory redundancy, right-size the permitting process, and provide certainty to further solar and wind energy production in South Dakota,” added Neom.
Following Noem’s February veto of SB14, the governor’s office, the Commission, industry experts, and legislators came together to create this legislation as a product of true collaboration, input, and compromise. SB15 provides for an orderly process of accepting and hearing public comments, unifies the timeline of like-permitting processes, and grants deference during the Commission’s permitting process to permit findings the local unit of government has already decided.
According to Noem’s veto message for S.B.14 last month, the bill would have created “unacceptable ambiguity and confusion” over the PUC’s regulatory authority: “The commission should not be in the business of picking locations for solar projects,” she said, “but the enrolled version of this bill permits it.”
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