Land Use and Zoning For Solar Energy
Alternative energy is a hot sector and as awareness grows about the economic and environmental benefits of clean solar energy we are going to see more communities and companies adopt solar energy. Planners of cities and counties have an important role to play to make sure their communities understand and encourage investors to establish solar projects in their region.
Cities and counties need to develop solar energy friendly land use and zoning regulations to allow and encourage this clean and safe energy source. These solar farms require large areas of land and can create numerous employment opportunities for the local community. However, residents in these areas may resist such huge projects in favor of the open space around their cities, parks and communities. This could result in zoning related disputes and lawsuits against such large projects.
Local governments must revisit their land use regulations and zoning ordinances/codes to make sure that language is included to encourage and support green development and use of alternative energy. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has been encouraging states to go clean and adopt alternative energy. In 2007 and 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected 25 major U.S. cities as Solar America Cities, the foundation of DOE's Solar America Communities program. Through this effort, these cities have been working to accelerate the adoption of solar energy technologies for a cleaner, more secure energy future.
The City of Knoxville is part of this program and has created the Solar Knoxville Program to help promote solar technologies by removing market barriers through a comprehensive, city-wide approach. Solar Knoxville is:
- Educating Citizens
- Strengthening Demand and Supply for Solar Energy
- Increasing the visibility of solar energy
- Inspiring lasting change throughout their community
According to their website "Multi-institutional teams of solar experts provide technical assistance in areas such as incorporating solar into city planning, choosing appropriate technologies, structuring project financing, updating zoning and building codes, training qualified installers, and conducting community outreach to educate the consumer base." These 25 cities which are part of the DOE program can serve as a role model for other cities and counties which do not have zoning and land use laws in place to support solar energy or other clean energy projects.
recently provided zoning and field services for a single site of over 8,000 acres for a California Solar Farm about to begin construction. Please do contact PZR®
for all solar energy zoning related questions.