Solar Energy (photovoltaics)

Technical Symposium

Desktop Analysis as an Early Site Evaluation Tool for Utility-Scale Solar Development

Thursday, September 27
10:20 AM - 10:35 AM
Location: 203AB

Abstract Content : Preservation of development capital by developers coupled with the typical tight schedules of solar construction have led to the need for a desktop research tool to evaluate the potential impacts from physical and regulatory constraints. Siting solar projects in new localities can result in impact of regulatory hurdles that delay project schedules and result in higher development costs. Therefore, Desktop Constraints Analysis (DCA) tools have been developed to research and report on potential physical and regulatory constraints that could render a site either economically unfeasible for development or that would pose an unacceptable level of risk if development were pursued.

The intent of the DCA is to provide a desktop review of publicly-available local and State level requirements related to solar development, as well as physical and land constraints that could limit the development envelope or block construction in a reasonable timeframe. Each issue is evaluated against the proposed development plan and an opinion is made as to whether there are constraints from the various issues being researched. Furthermore, the DCA process will provide a simple explanation for potential concerns and why the issue may present a potential impact upon site development. Recommendations for mitigation actions to reduce risk or suggested further investigatory activities to better quantify the risk are also included.

General topics of interest that are researched include these critical elements that help in addressing the suitability of a property for development:

• Adjacent Land Ownership and Site Access
• Point of Electrical Interconnection
• Floodplains
• Topographic Features
• Potential Jurisdictional Waters of the U.S., including Wetlands
• Protected Species
• Sensitive Habitats, Wildlife Areas and Refuges
• Environmental (Hazmat)
• Geological/Geotechnical Screening
• Regulatory Permit Applicability and Consistency with Local or State Planning
• Section 106 – National Historic Preservation Act
• Water Quality, Runoff Impacts
• FAA Airspace Intrusion
• Prime Farmland

Research and data compilation is completed via publicly available web portals, GIS datasets, and limited contact with local regulatory Agency Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Additionally, the broad-based nature of the study can be addressed in a more compressed timeline than those required for more intensive studies (i.e. Phase I ESAs, Phase I Cultural Resource Studies, T&E Evaluations, etc.). Furthermore, the outcome of the DCA can provide a beneficial understanding of mitigation opportunities to allow sites with development hurdles to still proceed. By employing the DCA as part of the predevelopment process on solar projects, the successful path forward for projects can be effectively navigated.


Stephen Kerlin

Senior Environmental Project Manager / National Account Manager
Terracon Consultants, Inc.

Mr. Kerlin is a graduate of Elon University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and a minor in Natural Resource Legislation.

Mr. Kerlin is an Environmental Project Manager in Terracon’s Raleigh office with over 13 years of environmental consulting experience. He routinely manages and performs Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and Phase II Limited Site Investigations (LSIs). He also has experience performing soil and groundwater sampling, supervision of underground storage tank (UST) removals, and remediation projects.

Mr. Kerlin acts as a National Account Manager for several national solar development firms and has provided technical and regulatory services related to Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, wetland delineations and Preliminary Natural and Cultural Resource Constraints Analysis Screenings for new utility scale solar farm facilities throughout the Mid-Atlantic and in Indiana, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Texas and Montana. As part of the project management efforts, Mr. Kerlin manages the completion of Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, Preliminary Cultural and Natural Resource Constraints Analysis Screenings which have included SHPO and USFWS consultations, habitat assessments and endangered species consultations.


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Desktop Analysis as an Early Site Evaluation Tool for Utility-Scale Solar Development

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