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Nye County solar regulations nearing completion, moratorium extended

Nye County has spent the last year and a half working to create local regulations for the burgeoning solar industry and following plenty of research and the careful gleaning of input from various stakeholders, that process is finally nearing completion.

Nye County Planning Director Brett Waggoner said his department was “very close” to bringing forward a draft ordinance to present to the Nye County Commission, but in the meantime, he was asking that commissioners continue the county’s moratorium on renewable energy generation facility applications. That moratorium was set to expire today, May 15, but it was extended for another four months to give the county time to put the finishing touches on the document.

“The reason we have a moratorium in place is, so we have time to write an ordinance for development agreements and Special Use Permits and that will implement economic impacts to whomever ends up wanting the solar in their areas,” Nye County Commission Chair Debra Strickland reiterated for the public during the board’s April 16 meeting. The ordinance is intended to allow for different areas of the county to have their own regulations, depending on how their communities feel about solar development. “That’s what we’re doing and I don’t know if people get that… We’re working on a major document and we need more time,” Strickland said.

“It gives the DA something to go to court with, if we have to,” commissioner Frank Carbone added. “So there is a reason for why we’re doing this.”

Regardless of the county’s current moratorium, which was adopted via resolution in November 2023, the Bureau of Land Management has continued to accept and process applications for solar developments planned in Nye County. This serves to highlight one of the stickier points of the situation. How much say does a local governing body have over developments of this kind on federally-managed land?

“To try to argue that the federal government has no control over the lands - they are the ones giving these solar facilities the right to use the land. But that doesn’t mean we’re out of the equation,” Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi declared. “We have to do the fight in the right way, otherwise we have zero credibility and we’ll just get laughed off the table. There are ways we can do it but we have to do it the right way…

“I want us to, if we have to, force our way in to force the federal government to understand that we are a party here. They want to ignore us and I don’t intend to let them ignore us,” Kunzi continued. “We will have a seat at the table.”

Amargosa and Beatty officials were reported to have been amenable to the moratorium’s extension but commissioner Bruce Jabbour said Tonopah and Round Mountain were not so inclined. “Another six months is going to impede the northern part of the county,” he asserted.

As a compromise, Strickland proposed reducing the amount of time for the extension, a suggestion that satisfied both Jabbour and Waggoner.

Jabbour made the motion to adopt the resolution with an amendment limiting the extension to four months, with a second from commissioner Ron Boskovich. The motion passed with all in favor.

The resolution also allows for the moratorium to expire as soon as the renewable energy generation facilities ordinance has been adopted and goes into effect.

Waggoner said he is aiming to have a public hearing on the proposed ordinance ready for this June. Readers can look for notice of that public hearing in a future edition of the Pahrump Valley Times.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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