PAS Essential Info Packets

Planning and Zoning for Solar Energy: Updated Edition (PAS EIP-30)

Do your community's plans and ordinances address solar energy systems? As the nation's centers of electricity consumption, cities and counties are uniquely positioned to support economic growth, strengthen America's energy independence, and reduce pollution by converting to solar energy. Planners have important roles to play in making sure their communities' plans and land use regulations allow and encourage this clean, safe energy source.

This Essential Info Packet, updated for 2014, provides an extensive collection of sample ordinances on topics such as solar access, solar siting, and solar energy systems large and small, along with many examples of how communities are adding solar provisions to their comprehensive, subarea, and functional plans.

This packet is being made available to all planners and the general public as part of APA's participation in the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Through this effort, APA and its partners are providing outreach, training, and technical assistance to local and regional governments to make it easier for residents, businesses, and property owners within their jurisdictions to use solar energy. Find the latest SolarOPs resources and keep up-to-date on upcoming and previous SolarOPs workshops, webinars, and technical assistance opportunities at

Packet Downloads:

Foreword and Contents List (pdf)

Solar in Comprehensive Plans (pdf)

Solar in Subarea Plans (pdf)

Solar in Functional Plans (pdf)

Solar Permitting Guides (pdf)

Model Solar Ordinances (pdf)

Solar Easements/Access Permits (pdf)

Solar Access Protections (pdf)

Solar Orientation and Siting (pdf)

Solar-Ready Homes (pdf)

Mandatory Solar Energy System Installation (pdf)

Accessory Solar Energy Systems (pdf)

Primary-Use Solar Energy Systems (pdf)

Solar Energy Systems, Multiple Scales (pdf)

Outline of Packet Contents

Solar in Comprehensive Plans

Chico (California), City of. 2011. General Plan. Chapter 2, Sustainability. Chapter 8, Housing Element.

  • The Sustainability Element includes a goal of reducing non-renewable energy resource consumption citywide, with a policy and associated actions of supporting the inclusion of renewable energy technologies and design in development projects.
  • The Housing Element includes a goal of encouraging energy-efficient resources in new and existing housing stock, including supporting outreach and requirements for renewable energy systems and solar orientation.

Corvallis (Oregon), City of. 1998. Comprehensive Plan. Article 12, Energy.

  • This element lists a number of findings promoting the use of renewable energy and solar technologies; policies address encouraging the use of renewable energy systems and design.

Hartford (Vermont), Town of. 2012. Master Plan. Chapter X, Energy.

  • The Energy element emphasizes the importance of using local renewable energy resources and includes a goal of promoting these sources. Subgoals include encouraging the use of local renewable energy resources, including solar, for municipal and private sectors, and adopting land use regulations that promote solar site design and renewable energy use.

Lowell (Massachusetts), City of. 2013. Sustainable Lowell 2025. Part IV, Goals; Housing Choice. Environmental Resilience.

  • The city's master plan describes Lowell as a leader in renewable energy and lists the city's solar accomplishments.
  • The Housing Choice section includes an objective of prioritizing sustainable housing development practices, with supporting actions of encouraging active and passive solar use.
  • The Environmental Resilience section includes an objective of producing energy from renewable sources, with supporting actions of removing barriers to solar energy implementation for private properties, and promoting "brightfields" and other large-scale renewable energy facilities, and pursuing small-scale solar electric and thermal arrays on municipal properties.

Mammoth Lakes (California), Town of. 2007. Town of Mammoth Lakes General Plan 2007. Resource Management and Conservation.

  • An Energy Conservation section within the Resource Management and Conservation element establishes goals and policies for increasing the use of active and passive solar energy.

Milwaukee (Wisconsin), City of. 2010. Milwaukee Comprehensive Plan: Citywide Policy Plan. Housing and Neighborhoods; Natural Resources.

  • The Housing and Neighborhoods section includes objectives of encouraging sustainable practices such as solar in public housing, and supporting the use of alternative energy sources in all housing.
  • The Natural Resources section includes a policy of fostering use and development of alternative energy systems to help reduce the city's carbon footprint and contributions to climate change, including encouraging alternative energy generation within development projects and using vacant land for alternative energy demonstration projects.

Minneapolis (Minnesota), City of. 2009. Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth. Part 6, Environment.

  • The Environment element notes the importance of renewable energy as a sustainability strategy and establishes policies of expanding the use of renewable energy systems and protecting access to those sources within the city.

Orlando (Florida), City of. 2012. Growth Management Plan. Conservation Element: Goals, Objectives, and Policies.

  • The Conservation element includes goals, objectives, and policies of encouraging renewable energy alternatives, including planning for solar energy implementation.

Pinal (Arizona), County of. 2009. We Create Our Future: Pinal County Comprehensive Plan. Chapter 7, Environmental Stewardship – Energy.

  • Discusses solar resources and planned utility-scale solar power plant. Sets goal to expand renewable energy in the county; provides several supporting objectives and extensive lists of supporting policies.

Pleasanton (California), City of. 2009. Pleasanton General Plan 2005 – 2025. Energy Element.

  • The plan's Energy element discusses the importance of solar power and distributed generation in meeting local energy needs, and includes a policy of promoting renewable energy with related programs of encouraging the use of solar in public and private facilities, building photovoltaic demonstration projects, requiring solar-ready construction, and developing standardized solar energy system installation designs for residences and businesses.

Prince William (Virginia), County of. 2008. Prince William County 2008 Comprehensive Plan. Environment Element – Energy Policies and Action Strategies.

  • A section on energy in the Environmental Element includes policies and action strategies to recognize and incentivize on-site renewable energy use, including solar.

Scottsdale (Arizona), City of. 2001. Scottsdale General Plan. Preservation and Environmental Planning Element.

  • The Preservation and Environmental Planning element describes the importance of solar energy as the city's most viable alternative energy source and sets a goal of reducing energy consumption with related objectives of promoting solar energy opportunities in building and site design and assuring solar access.

Shakopee (Minnesota), City of. 2009. Comprehensive Plan 2030. 12, Solar Access.

  • Discusses solar access issues, sets goal of promoting solar energy use.

Solar in Subarea Plans

Amherst (Massachusetts), Town of. 2002. Atkins Corner Sustainable Development Plan: A Workbook of Design Options for Sustainable Development. Elements of Sustainable Development.

  • This plan provides a "development guide" for this village center site that emphasizes sustainable building development and design principles, including passive and active solar.

Montgomery (Maryland), County of, Planning Department. 2010. Germantown Urban Design Guidelines. Guidelines: Buildings; Environment.

  • These design guidelines written for the Germantown Employment Area Sector Plan emphasize sustainable building design principles, including solar orientation and use of solar panels.

Paso Robles (California), City of. 2011. Uptown/Town Centre Specific Plan. Chapter 5, The Development Code.

  • The development code written for this area plan includes a section encouraging the use of solar panels consistent with the code's architectural standards.

Vail (Colorado), Town of. 1998, revised 2011. Lionshead Master Redevelopment Plan.

  • This redevelopment plan allows for flexibility in architectural design guidelines to achieve green design principles. The architectural design guidelines provided in the plan include a section on solar energy device installation for roofs.

Solar in Functional Plans

Arlington (Massachusetts), Town of. 2005. Arlington Sustainability Action Plan. Chapter 3, Energy Sourcing.

  • The town's Sustainability Action Plan lists installation of renewable energy technologies on both municipal and private buildings as an important strategy reducing the emission of greenhouse gases by using renewable energy sources.

Arlington (Virginia), County of. 2013. Community Energy Plan.

  • The county's Energy Plan sets a goal of increasing the use of renewable energy options and includes a policy calling for the installation of 160 MW of solar electric capacity by 2050.
  • This energy plan was adopted as an element of the County's comprehensive plan.

Cleveland Heights (Ohio), City of. 2011. City of Cleveland Heights Strategic Development Plan 2011. Goal 7.

  • Goal Seven in this strategic development plan calls for sustainable practices for development activities, including supporting and raising awareness about successful technologies such as solar energy and photovoltaics.

Evanston (Illinois), City of, Office of Sustainability. 2008. Climate Action Plan. Recommended Strategies: Renewable Energy Resources.

  • The city's Climate Action Plan includes renewable energy resources as a "cornerstone" of the plan and offers a number of strategies encouraging solar PV and water heating system installation for both local government and residents, along with removing zoning and permitting barriers to renewable energy use.

Hayward (California), City of. 2009. Hayward Climate Action Plan. Section 5, Emissions Reduction Plan; Strategy 5, Energy: Use Renewable Energy.

  • The city's Climate Action Plan identifies using renewable energy as one of three energy-related emissions reduction strategies, setting an overall goal of 100% renewable energy generation in the city by 2050 and offering both community-wide and municipal action steps to promote renewable energy.

Mission Viejo (California), City of. 2013. Mission Viejo Sustainability Action Plan. Chapter 3, Reduction Measures and Actions; Measure 3, Clean and Efficient Energy.

  • The city focuses on implementing energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy generation as an important strategy in reducing communitywide GHG emissions, and lists a number of specific goals for solar hot water heater and PV installations on residential units as progress indicators.

New Rochelle (New York), City of. 2011. GreeNR: The New Rochelle Sustainability Plan 2010 – 2030. Part I, Energy and Climate. 1.1, Green Building Standards; 1.5, Renewable Energy Generation.

  • The city's sustainability plan promotes solar energy use in its recommendations for pursuing green building standards and renewable energy generation, and offers short-term, medium-term, and long-term action items ranging from updating building and zoning codes to identifying municipal sites for potential renewable energy projects.

San Antonio (Texas), City of. 2012. City of San Antonio Solar Development Plan.

  • This plan identifies stakeholder-recommended strategies, concepts, goals, and action steps to guide the region in deploying solar technologies and growing the solar industry. Ten chapters address issues including utility-scale solar development, integrating solar within residential and commercial infrastructure, expanding solar public outreach, and expanding financing opportunities.

Tucson (Arizona), City of. 2009. Greater Tucson Solar Development Plan: Strategies for Sustainable Solar Power Development in the Tucson Region.

  • This plan offers 12 strategies for solar deployment in the region and discusses risks and opportunities, strategic partners, performance indicators, regional solar market opportunities, prioritizing opportunities, and action steps.

Solar Permitting Guides

Boston (Massachusetts), City of. 2010. Solar Boston Permitting Guide: A Resource for Building Owners and Solar Installers.

  • Describes solar energy system components; offers guidance on deciding to install a system, determining solar potential, and choosing an installer; and details the permitting and interconnection processes.

Clark (Nevada), County of, Department of Building. 2012. Solar Photovoltaic Systems Building Permit Guide.

  • Provides definitions of relevant terms for solar PV systems; lists minimum submittal plan requirements and other requirements to consider.

Portland (Oregon), City of. Bureau of Development Services. 2010. Program Guide: Solar Water Heating and Photovoltaic Electric Generators Installed on One or Two Family Dwellings. Also, Program Guide: Solar Water Heating and Photovoltaic Electric Generators Installed on Commercial Buildings.

  • Guidebooks provide guidelines and permitting requirements for installing solar hot water heaters or PV systems on residential and commercial construction. Includes sample site plans and submittal requirements checklist.

Sacramento (California), City of, Department of Community Development. 2012. City of Sacramento Guide to Solar Energy Permits.

  • Describes steps in getting a solar permit and provides solar fee schedule. Provides submission checklists for residential PV installations and inspections as well as solar water heating systems. Provides sample system plan and electrical diagram.

Scottsdale (Arizona), City of, Green Building Program. 2010. Residential Solar Plan Review: Quality Submittal Guidelines.

  • Guide covers submittal requirements for ground-mounted and roof-mounted solar energy systems, as well as solar hot water systems. Includes site plan/roof plan checklists and examples, a department memorandum explaining requirements for design and installation of solar panels, and illustrated design guidelines for solar panel placement on single-family homes.

Seattle City Light. 2009. Guide to Installing a Solar Electric System.

  • Guidebook for residents from municipal utility describes the components of a solar PV system, offers guidance in locating and sizing a system, details permitting requirements, costs, and incentives, and provides a 9-step checklist for implementing solar power.

Online Guides:

Model Solar Ordinances

California County Planning Directors Association. 2012. "Model SEF Permit Streamlining Ordinance" and "Renewable Energy Combining Zone." Appendices A and B to Model Solar Energy Facility Permit Streamlining Guide.

  • Model permit streamlining ordinance establishes four tiers of solar energy facilities and four solar use categories (direct use, accessory use, secondary use, and primary use), and provides development standards.
  • Model renewable energy combining district ordinance establishes an overlay for large-scale renewable energy facilities and provides development standards.
  • Links to the Guide and additional supporting sample documentation is available at

Columbia Law School, Center for Climate Change Law. 2012. Model Small-Scale Solar Siting Ordinance. Prepared by Danielle Sugarman.

  • Model ordinance permitting small-scale solar thermal and PV systems by right in all zoning districts includes standards addressing rooftop-, building-, and ground-mounted systems.

Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Department of Energy Resources. 2014. Model Zoning for the Regulation of Solar Energy Systems.

  • Model ordinance with commentary to help Massachusetts communities establish reasonable standards to facilitate development of small-, medium-, and large-scale installations.

Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. 2014. "Solar Energy Standards – Urban Communities." In From Policy to Reality: Updated Model Ordinance for Sustainable Development. Prepared by CR Planning, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.

  • Model solar energy ordinance provides purpose statements, definitions. Allows solar energy systems as accessory uses on all districts subject to standards on height, setbacks, visibility; administrative plan approval required. Provides conditional use standards for systems that do not meet those requirements. Prohibits private restrictions on solar energy systems; provides for solar access permits and development incentives for solar roofs.

North Carolina Solar Center. 2013. Template Solar Energy Development Ordinance for North Carolina. Version 1.0. Raleigh, N.C.: NCSC.

  • Template ordinance for North Carolina communities provides model zoning language for three levels of PV and solar hot water systems. A series of appendices offer guidance and additional resources on a range of solar-related topics.

Western Pennsylvania Rooftop Solar Challenge. 2012. Final Solar Zoning Ordinance. Prepared for Penn Future by Environmental Planning and Design, LLC.

  • Model ordinance developed as template for wide range of Pennsylvania municipalities provides for by-right approval of accessory use building- and ground-mounted solar energy systems and provides standards.

Wasatch [Utah] Solar Challenge. N.d. Model Ordinance for Residential and Non-Residential Distributed Solar Energy Systems.

  • Model ordinance for Utah communities permits solar energy systems in any districts as accessory uses, subject to specific criteria. Includes extensive definitions section (45 terms) and provides development standards for roof-mount and ground-mount systems. Additional provisions address solar-ready zoning and prohibit private covenants that restrict the use of solar collectors.

Solar Easements/Access Permits

Independence (Kansas), City of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Appendix B, Zoning; Article XV, Solar Access Regulations. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Provides for residents to establish solar access easements as agreements between property owners establishing a "solar skyspace envelope."

Laramie (Wyoming), City of. 2012. Code of Ordinances. Title 15, Unified Development Code; Chapter 15.06, Review Procedures; Section 15.06.060, Specific Review Procedures; Part L, Solar Access Permit. Also, Chapter 15.14, Development Standards; Section 15.14.030, Alternative Energy; Part 2, Solar Rights. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Provides for solar access permits offering protection for the use of a wide range of "solar collector" structures without causing undue hardship on the rights of adjacent property owners.

Mason City (Iowa), City of. 2013. Municipal Code. Title 12, Zoning; Chapter 21, Access to Solar Energy; Section 12-21-1, Requirements and Process for Easements. Coeur d'Alene, Id.: Sterling Codifiers, Inc.

  • Establishes right of property owners to file for solar access easement. Solar Access Regulatory Board determines amount of compensation to be paid to affected property owners based on any change to fair market value.

Prairie du Sac (Wisconsin), Village of. 2008. Code of Ordinances. Title 10, Land Use Regulations; Chapter 8, Solar Access.

  • Provides for Solar Access Permit to prevent "impermissible interference" for solar energy access to collector surfaces.

Tecumseh (Michigan), City of. 2013. Code of Ordinances. Chapter 98, Zoning; Article VIII, General Provisions; Division 5, Sustainable Energy Generation; Section 98-553, Solar Access Permit. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Allows property owners to apply for solar access permit to protect solar collectors from prohibited interference with solar access. Permit may be granted according to review criteria showing no undue hardship will be caused to affected property owners.

Solar Access Protections

Ashland (Oregon), City of. 2011. Municipal Code. Title 18, Land Use; Section 18.70, Solar Access.

  • Protects solar energy collector shading from buildings and vegetation. Sets Solar Setbacks so that shadows from adjacent buildings are no more than 6' at the north property line. Provides for Solar Access Permit to protect solar access by preventing the planting and requiring the trimming of vegetation that would otherwise shade the recorded collector.

Belfast (Maine), City of. 2013. Code of Ordinances. Chapter 90, Site Plans; Article II, Review Criteria and Procedures; Section 90-42, Criteria for Review by Planning Board. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Allows the Planning Board to request that development plans include restrictive covenants, height restrictions, or increased setback requirements to protect and ensure access to direct sunlight for solar energy systems.

Boulder (Colorado), City of. 2014. Boulder Revised Code. Title 9, Land Use Regulation; Chapter 9-9, Development Standards; Section 9-9-17, Solar Access. Fort Collins, Colo.: Colorado Code Publishing Company.

  • Establishes three Solar Access Areas for the city. For SA Areas I and II, establishes "solar fence" concept for baseline allowable lot shading. For SA Area III where development density is high, provides for Solar Access Permits.
  • Requires solar siting for new residential and nonresidential development.
  • Building Service Center's 2006 Solar Access Guide condenses requirements in brochure form.

Canton (Michigan), Charter Township of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Part II, Land Development Regulations; Appendix A, Zoning; Article 6.00; Site Development Standards Applicable to Specific Uses; Section 6.04, Site Development Standards for Mixed Uses; part A(4), Mid-Rise and High-Rise Developments – Protection of Solar Access. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Applies orientation and special solar setback standards to building placement requirements to protect solar access in mid-rise and high-rise developments in mixed use areas.

Clackamas (Oregon), County of. 2014. County Code. Title 12, Zoning and Development Ordinance; Section 1000, Development Standards; Part 1018, Solar Balance Point/Infill Ordinance, and Part 1019, Solar Access Permit Ordinance.

  • 2005 ordinance. Part 1018 establishes Shade Point Height standards and Solar Balance Points for development; includes formulas and illustrations. Part 1019 provides for solar access permits to prohibit shading of solar features by vegetation on neighboring properties.

Fort Collins (Colorado), City of. 2013. Land Use Code. Article 2, Administation; Division 2.8, Modification of Standards; Section 2.8.2, Modification Review Procedures. Article 3, General Development Standards; Division 3.2, Site Planning and Design Standards; Section 3.2.3, Solar Access, Orientation, Shading. Article 5, Terms and Definitions; Division 5.1, Definitions. Fort Collins, Colo.: Colorado Code Publishing Company.

  • Provides for modification of standards if property conditions hinder the owner's ability to install a solar system. Requires at least 65% of residential lots less than 15,000 SF to conform to the definition of a "solar-oriented lot"; addresses shading issues.

Houston (Minnesota), County of. 2013. Zoning Ordinance. Section 28, General Provisions; Part 0110.2808, Solar Energy Systems and Solar Structures .

  • Establishes protection of access to sunlight by prohibiting vegetation or structures that would cast a shadow greater than that cast by a hypothetical wall 10' high located along the property line between the hours of 9:30 am and 2:30 pm CST on Dec 21. Solar energy system owners may file notarized photos to establish existing conditions when system is installed. Violation constitutes a private nuisance.

Los Alamos (New Mexico), County of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Chapter 16, Development Code; Article VII, Use Regulations; Section 16-279, Solar Energy Collection System. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Protects solar energy collection systems installed on a lot from accessory systems or vegetation on an abutting lot. Owner must file a statement claiming solar access protection upon installation of the system.

San Luis Obispo (California), City of. 2014. Municipal Code. Title 16, Subdivisions; Chapter 16.18, General Subdivision Design Standards; Section 16.18.170, Easements for Solar Access. Seattle, Wash.: Code Publishing Company, Inc.

  • Solar easements protecting solar exposure between 10AM to 2PM PST on the winter solstice must be recorded for new lots unless lot layout is designed to provide adequate solar access.
  • Ordinance also includes energy conservation provisions promoting solar orientation to create adequate solar access.

Santa Clara (California), County of. 2014. County Code. Division C12, Subdivisions and Land Development; Article IV, Requirements; Part 9, Solar Access for Subdivision Development. Tallahassee, Fl.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Requires the design of all subdivisions to demonstrate the use of natural heating and cooling opportunities to the maximum extent feasible through submittal of energy conservation plans; dedication of solar access easements may be required as a condition of tentative map approval for new parcels.

Santa Barbara (California), City of. N.d. Solar Access Packet.

  • Includes instructions on determining whether residential lots comply with the Solar Access Ordinance and preparing a shadow diagram. Includes Municipal Code Chapter 28.11, Protection and Enhancement of Solar Access, which sets height limitations to balance solar access rights with development rights.

Solar Orientation and Siting

Clackamas (Oregon), County of. 2013. Zoning and Development Ordinance. Section 1017, Solar Access Ordinance for New Development.

  • Ensures that land is divided so as to maximize solar access for structures and minimize shade on adjoining properties from structures and trees. Includes definitions and illustrations; requires 80% of lots in a development to comply with one or more design options provided. Provides for exemptions and adjustments.

Dixon (California), City of. 2014. Municipal Code. Title 18, Zoning; Chapter 18.23, Design Review Commission; Section 18.23.170, Single Family Dwellings, Duplexes and Secondary Living Units Design Standards. Also see Chapter 18.36, Conservation Regulations; Section 18.36.020, Conservation Guidelines; part B, Efficient Use of Solar Energy. Seattle, Wash.: Code Publishing Company, Inc.

  • Encourages building design and lot orientation to enhance passive and active solar systems and the incorporation of solar energy. Subdivisions shall be designed to permit maximum exposure to the winter sun; solar energy systems shall not be prohibited.

Dubuque (Iowa), City of. 2014. Municipal Code. Title 16, Unified Development Code; Chapter 11, Land Subdivision; Section 16-11-10, Sustainable Subdivision Development Tools. See also Section 16-11-12, Solar Subdivision. Coeur d'Alene, Id.: Sterling Codifiers, Inc.

  • New subdivisions must obtain 40 points from a list of sustainable subdivision tools for approval. 30 points may be obtained with a "solar subdivision," which includes 70 percent "solar lots" that have a minimum north-south dimension of 75 feet and a front line orientation that is within 30 degrees of the true east-west axis.

Elmira (New York), Town of. 2013. Municipal Code. Chapter 217, Zoning; Article IX, Development Guidelines and Supplementary Regulations; Section 217-73, Solar Energy Systems and Solar Access. Rochester, N.Y.: General Code.

  • Establishes a number of design guidelines for siting and maintaining buildings and vegetation to maximize solar access for the use of solar energy systems.

Gothenburg (Nebraska), City of. 2013. Code of Ordinances. Title XV, Land Usage; Chapter 151, Subdivisions; Section 151.054, Minimum Design Standards – Solar Access for Energy Conservation. Cincinnati, Ohio: American Legal Publishing Corporation.

  • Provides solar orientation standards for streets and lots to promote conservation of energy through use of active and passive solar systems.

Haddam (Connecticut), Town of. 2013. Municipal Code. Chapter 302, Subdivision Regulations; Article IV, Design and Construction Standards; Section 302-36, Passive Solar Energy Techniques. Rochester, N.Y.: General Code.

  • Subdivision applicants must consider passive solar energy techniques by submitting a site analysis that evaluates building orientation, street and lot layout, vegetation, topography, and solar access protection within the development. Lists guidelines for solar orientation. Lots that do not have good solar energy access must be labelled "poor passive solar energy potential."

Laramie (Wyoming), City of. 2013. Unified Development Code. Chapter 15.14, Development Standards; Section 15.14.030.A, Solar Energy; Part 3, Solar Oriented Lots.

  • To encourage the use of active and passive solar heating systems, the right to solar access is protected and at least 40% of the lots less than 15,000 SF in single- and two-family residential developments must be "solar-oriented lots."
  • Ordinance also allows solar energy systems as permitted uses in all districts and provides for solar access permits.

Washington (New Jersey), Township of. 2014. Municipal Code. Chapter 275, Land Development; Article XI, Minimum Development Standards; Section 275-85, Energy Conservation Standards. Rochester, N.Y.: General Code.

  • Development standards promote the conservation of energy by encouraging orientation of lots, streets, buildings, and landscaping to take advantage of solar energy.
  • Commercial and industrial facilities greater than 15,000 SF and residential development with more than 25 units must submit an energy conservation plan describing how site design maximizes the potential for solar energy use.

Solar-Ready Homes

Chula Vista (California), City of. 2014. Section 15.28.015, Solar Water Heater Pre-Plumbing; Section 15.24.065, Photovoltaic Pre-Wiring Requirements.

  • 2009 ordinance. For building permit approval, residential units must include plumbing to allow the later installation of a solar water heating system and conduit to allow the later installation of a PV system.

Henderson (Nevada), City of. 2013. Development Code. Chapter 19.7, Development and Design Standards; Table 19.7.12-1, Sustainability – Menu of Site and Building Design Options for Sustainability, part 1.9: Solar-Ready Design.

  • New development in Henderson must score a minimum number of points from a menu of sustainability site and building design features, including solar-ready design.
  • Renewable energy systems and solar orientation are also on the menu.

Oro Valley (Arizona), Town of. 2009. Ordinance No. (O)09-11: An Ordinance of the Mayor and Council of the Town of Oro Valley, Amending Chapter 6, Article 6-1-7, "Residential Code" Otherwise Known as the "2006 International Residential Code" to Add a "Residential Solar Ordinance" Requiring Installation of Solar Ready Measures in Residential Construction.

  • Ordinance amending the IRC to require the installation of a solar hot water system or specific features to support the future installation of solar hot water systems as well as conduit to support the future installation of solar PV systems.

Pinecrest (Florida), Village of. 2013. Code of Ordinances. Chapter 30, Land Development Regulations; Article 5, Additional Regulations; Division 5.27, Alternative Energy Systems; part a(3), Solar-Ready Construction. Tallahassee, Fl.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • New buildings and remodels with costs more than 50 percent of assessed building value must provide a roof layout plan showing how a future solar PV and/or hot water heater could be accommodated; owners are required to provide for the eventual installation of one system. Specifies conduit/plumbing requirements.

Portsmouth (Virginia), City of. 2014. City Code. Chapter 40.1, Zoning; Article 40.1-5, Development Standards; Section 40.1-5.8, Green Building Incentives; part F, Table 40.1-5.8(F), Menu of Green Building Features. Tallahassee, Fl.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Portsmouth offers a density incentive for including green building features in development; several solar-related options are included in the menu of green building features, including solar readiness.

Rancho Palos Verdes (California), City of. 2013. Municipal Code. Title 15, Buildings and Construction; Chapter 15.04, Building Code; Section 15.04.070, Renewable Energy Systems. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • New homes and major remodels must provide roof layout plan showing how future installation of a PV and/or solar water heating system could be accommodated; requires installation of PV conduit or hot water heater and pipes on south-, east-, or west-facing roofs.

Tucson (Arizona), City of. 2008. Ordinance No. 10549: Relating to Buildings and Construction: Requiring New Single Family and Duplex Residential Dwelling Units to Provide for Future Installation of Solar Energy Devices.

  • Directs Development Services to create new standards requiring new single-family and duplex units to be constructed to allow for later installation of solar water heating systems and solar electrical power systems.

Mandatory Solar Energy System Installation

Lancaster (California), City of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Title 17, Zoning; Chapter 17.08, Residential Zones; Article II, Non-Urban, Urban, Medium and High Density Residential Zones; Section 17.08.060, Development Regulations by Building Types. Also, Article V, Solar, Wind, and Alternative Energy Uses; Section 17.08.305, Implementation of Solar Energy Systems. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • 2013 ordinance requires developers to install solar energy systems in new single- and multi-family homes. Per-unit energy generation requirements may be aggregated for new developments.

Accessory Solar Energy Systems

Ames (Iowa), City of. 2014. Municipal Code. Chapter 29, Zoning; Article 13, Additional Requirements for Specific Uses; Section 29.1309, Solar Energy Systems.

  • Standards to facilitate the installation of safe, efficient, and harmonious solar energy systems as allowed accessory uses in all zoning districts. Provides standards for free-standing systems, residential attached systems, and nonresidential attached systems. Describes permitting requirements. Systems that do not comply with standards may be permitted with a special use permit.

Bethany Beach (Delaware), Town of. 2010. Ordinance no. 455: An Ordinance to Add a New Chapter 484 "Solar Energy Systems" To The Town Code Of Bethany Beach. Rochester, N.Y.: General Code.

  • Allows solar energy systems for on-site energy use as permitted accessory uses in all zoning districts. Encourages rooftop panels on side and back roof slopes rather than ground-mounted systems. Commercial solar energy installations are prohibited.

Blaine (Idaho), County of. 2013. County Code. Title 9, Zoning Regulations; Chapter 3B, Utilities Facilities; Solar. Coeur d'Alene, Id.: Sterling Codifiers, Inc.

  • Allows the use of accessory active solar energy systems in all districts according to standards. Provides stricter standards for several overlay districts, including Mountain Overlay District, Scenic Highway Overlay District, FEMA Mapped Floodplain and Floodway, and Wetland and Riparian Overlay Districts. Provides requirements for administrative review.

Gladstone (Missouri), City of. 2013. Code of Ordinances. Title VII, Zoning and Planning Ordinance (ZAPO); Chapter 167, Alternative Energy Systems; Section 7.167.030, Requirements for Active Solar Energy Systems. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Sets standards for height, setbacks, visibility. Administrative plan approval required; lists plan application requirements. Special use permits required if system does not comply with standards provided.

Hermosa Beach (California), City of. 2014. Municipal Code. Title 17, Zoning; Chapter 17.46, Yard, Height, and Area Restrictions; Section 17.46.220, Solar Energy Systems Can Exceed Height Limits.

  • Solar panels are permissible roof structures that may exceed the height limit by the amount needed for their safe and efficient operation. Includes other general development standards applicable where feasible, offers flexibility.

Huntsville (Alabama), City of. 2012. Ordinance No. 12-466: To Amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Huntsville, Alabama.

  • Ordinance adds definition of "photovoltaic solar energy production facility" to zoning code; allowed in all zoning districts as an accessory use, though a special permit is required when accessory to a nonresidential use in a residential district. Provides standards for roof- and ground-mounted systems.

Irvine (California), City of. 2014. Zoning Ordinance. Division 3, General Development Standards and Land Use Regulations; Chapter 3-31, Solar Energy System Standards. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Encourages investment in solar energy systems. Building permit required; provides standards for both residential and commercial/nonresidential installations.

Ithaca (New York), Town of. 2014. Town Code. Chapter 270, Zoning; Article III, Terminology; Section 270-5, Definitions. Article XXVI, Special Regulations; Section 270-219.1, Solar Collectors and Installations.

  • Rooftop and building-mounted solar collectors are permitted in all zoning districts with building permit. Ground-mounted and freestanding solar collectors are permitted as accessory structures in all districts subject to setback, height, and lot coverage standards. Abandonment clause.
  • "Photovoltaic Systems Building Permit Application Checklist" (Code Enforcement Department, 2012) included.

Minneapolis (Minneapolis), City of. 2013. Code of Ordinances. Title 20, Zoning Code; Chapter 535, Regulations of General Applicability; Article XII, Solar Energy Systems. Chapter 537, Accessory Uses and Structures; Section 537.110, Solar Energy System. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Permitted in all districts subject to compliance with development standards. Height limits and setbacks provided for building-mounted and freestanding solar systems; freestanding systems limited to 5% of total lot area in residential and office-residential districts.

Rock Hill (South Carolina), City of. 2014. Zoning Ordinance. Article 4, Use Regulations; Section 4-400, Accessory Uses and Structures; Table 4-400(B), Table of Permitted Accessory Uses. Part 4-400(D)(19), Accessory Uses and Structures Allowed – Ground-Mounted Solar Installations. Article 5, Density, Intensity, and Dimensional Standards; Table 5-200(A), Allowable Yard Encroachments. Article 6, Development and Design Standards; Section 6-800(B)(2)(e), Residential Design Standards – Roof Penetrations and Equipment. Section 6-800(C)(9)(c). Commercial and Institutional Design Standards - Roof Penetrations and Equipment. Article 10, Definitions.

  • Solar energy systems are permitted as accessory uses in all districts. Provides development and design standards for both residential and nonresidential ground-mounted systems.
  • Also provides for solar-powered lighting, Section 6-700(E)(8), Exterior Lighting Standards – Solar Powered Lighting.

Schaumburg (Illinois), Village of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Title 15, Land Usage; Chapter 154, Zoning; Section 154.27, Definitions. Section 154.56, Solar Energy Systems. Section 154.58, Solar and Wind Energy System Figures. Section 154.62, Building Heights, Bulk Regulations, and Required Yards – Solar Access Protection. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Solar energy systems for on-site power use are permitted as accessory structures. Provides development standards for both freestanding and building-mounted systems. Illustrations included.
  • Also provides for the creation of easements to protect solar access.

Troy (Michigan), City of. 2013. Zoning Ordinance. Article 2, Section 2.02, Definitions. Also see Article 12, Sustainable Design and Development Standards; Section 12.05, Solar Structures and Easements.

  • Permits active and passive solar energy systems in all zoning classifications subject to administrative approval; if systems project into or are free standing in required front or side yards, site plan review is required. Provides for solar access easements.

Primary-Use Solar Energy Systems

Brunswick (North Carolina), County of. 2013. Code of Ordinances. Article 5, Permitted Uses; Section 5.2.3, Use Table. Part 5.3, Limited Use Standards; Section 5.3.4(P), Public and Civic Uses – Solar Farm. Also, Part 5.4, Accessory Structures and Uses; Section 5.4.10, Solar Collector (Accessory). Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Solar Farms are permitted subject to use standards in several districts. Standards address setbacks, height, visibility; ordinance provides application and installation and design requirements.
  • The county also permits accessory solar collectors in all districts subject to standards.

Erie (Pennsylvania), City of. 2012. Zoning Ordinance for the City of Erie. Article 3, General Regulations; Section 305, Conditional Uses, Special Exceptions and Special Regulation Criteria; part 305.54, Solar Collection Systems. Part 305.55, Urban Solar Farm. Also, Article 6, Definitions.

  • Ordinance provides for urban solar farms as permitted uses in manufacturing and industrial park district and conditional use in waterfront district in accordance with specified regulations. Includes decommissioning provision.
  • Ordinance also permits accessory solar collection systems in all districts in accordance with specified requirements.

Grundy (Illinois), County of. 2014. County Code. Title 8, Unified Development Code; Chapter 2, Permitted Uses; Part 8-2-2-1, Land Use Tables. Also, Section 8-2-4, Administrative Review Use Standards; Part 8-2-4-11, Solar Collector System. Also, Section 8-2-5, Special Use Standards; Part 8-2-5-30, Solar Farms. Coeur d'Alene, Id.: Sterling Codifiers, Inc.

  • Provides detailed definitions and standards for solar farms, which are special uses in agricultural and industrial districts.
  • Also provides detailed definitions and standards for solar collector systems, which are permitted accessory uses in all districts.

Iron (Utah), County of. 2013. County Code. Title 17, Zoning; Chapter 17.16, Establishment of Zoning Districts; Section 17.16.030, Table of Uses. Chapter 17.20, Use Definitions; Section 17.20.010, Definitions. Chapter 17.33, Solar Power Plants. Chapter 17.84, Section 17.84.010, Definitions. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • 2010 ordinance provides regulations and design standards for both concentrated thermal and PV solar power plants. Includes permit requirements and detailed list of provisions for conditional use permit review.

Jackson (Ohio), Township of. 2014. Zoning Resolution. Article II, Definitions; Chapter 201, Section 201.2, Definitions. Also, Chapter 414, Solar Energy Systems; Section 414.2, Requirements for Solar Energy Production Facility.

  • Permits principal solar energy production facilities in the industrial district subject to standards.
  • Ordinance also permits accessory solar energy systems as accessory uses in all districts.

Lancaster (California), City of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Title 17, Zoning; Chapter 17.04, General Provisions; Section 17.04.240, Definitions. Also, Chapter 17.08, Residential Zones; Article II, Non-Urban, Urban, Medium and High Density Residential Zones; Section 17.08.050, Uses and Permit Requirements. Article V, Solar, Wind, and Alternative Energy Uses. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Allows solar farms as conditional uses in certain rural residential districts. Provides design requirements and required findings for conditional use approval.
  • Ordinance also allows accessory solar energy systems with a building permit. Provides standards for roof-mounted and ground-mounted systems.

Milwaukee (Wisconsin), City of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Volume 2, Building and Zoning Code; Chapter 295, Zoning; Subchapter 2, Definitions and Rules of Measurement; Section 295-201, Definitions. Also, Subchapter 5, Residential Districts; Table 295-503-1, Residential Districts Use Table. Section 295-505, Design Standards; part 2(h), Building Height; subpart h(2)(i), Exceptions to Height Limitations. Part 3(o), Accessory Structure Standards – Solar Arrays. Etc.

  • Solar farms are permitted uses in residential, industrial, parks, and institutional districts, special uses in commercial and downtown districts. Code sets setbacks for ground-mounted solar arrays and exempts solar farms and solar arrays from height limitations for all districts.

Port St. Lucie (Florida), City of. 2011. Code of Ordinances. Title XV, Land Usage; Chapter 158, Zoning Code; Article I, General Provisions; Section 158.006, Definitions. Article IV, General Use Districts; Section 158.060(C)(13), General Use Zoning District (GU) – Special Exception Uses. Article IX, Industrial Districts; Section 158.136(C)11, Industrial Zoning District (IN) – Special Exception Uses; Section 158.137(C)(4), Utility Zoning District (U) – Special Exception Uses. Article X, Supplementary Use Regulations; Section 158.230, Solar Energy. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Utility-scale "solar generation stations" are special exception uses in certain districts subject to requirements.
  • Also provides for small-scale accessory solar energy systems, which are exempted from building height regulations and may be collocated on communication towers and light poles.

Salisbury (Massachusetts), Town of. 2010. Code of Ordinances. Chapter 300, Zoning; Article XXIII, Solar Photovoltaic Installations Zoning Bylaw.

  • Provides general standards and application requirements for large-scale solar power generation installations. Requires site plan, operations and maintenance plan, landscaping plan, liability insurance, and financial surety. Sets setbacks of 50', requires visual screening; abandonment provision.

San Antonio (Texas), City of. 2014. Unified Development Code. Article III, Zoning; Division 7, Supplemental Use Regulations; Section 35-398(b), Renewable Energy Systems – Solar Farms. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Provides detailed standards for fixed-panel photovoltaic solar farms, including site development standards, submittal requirements for solar farm building permits, and required compliance with other regulations.

Santa Clara (California), County of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Title C, Construction, Development And Land Use; Appendix I, Zoning; Article 2, Base Districts; Chapter 2.10. Definitions: Use Classifications; Section § 2.10.040, Non-Residential Use Classifications. Also, Chapter 2.20, Rural Base Districts; Table 2.20-2, Non-Residential Uses in Rural Base Districts. Also, Chapter 2.50, Special Purpose Base Districts; Table 2.50-1, Uses in Special Purpose Base Districts. Also, Article 4, Supplemental Standards and Regulations; Chapter 4.10, Supplemental Use Regulations; Section 4.10.345, Solar Energy Conversion Systems—Commercial. Tallahassee, Fla.: Municipal Code Corporation.

  • Provides for minor (under 8 acres) and major commercial solar energy conversion facilities. Restricted to marginal agricultural lands. Criteria address setbacks, signage, wildlife passage, construction and operation, and decommissioning.

Stearns (Minnesota), County of. 2014. Land Use and Zoning Ordinance #439. Section 3, Definitions. Also, Section 6, Performance Standards; Part 6.50, Solar Energy Systems.

  • Defines solar farms. Provides performance standards and application requirements.
  • Also provides standards for roof- and ground-mounted accessory solar energy systems, permitted in all districts.
  • Solar farms are allowed as conditional use in agricultural, commercial, industrial, and educational/ecclesiastical zoning districts.

Straban (Pennsylvania), Township of. 2010. Ordinance 2010-02.

  • Detailed development standards for "solar electric facility" use as a by-right use in residential rural areas.

Solar Energy Systems, Multiple Scales

Boulder (Colorado), County of. 2013. Land Use Code. Article 4, Use Tables; Table 4-514, Utility and Public Service Uses. Table 4-516, Accessory Use. Also, Part 4-500, Use Regulations; Section 4-514, Utility and Public Service Uses; Part F, Large Solar Energy System. Part H, Medium Solar Energy System or Solar Garden. Part M, Small Solar Energy System or Solar Garden. Also, Section 4-516, Accessory Uses; Part K, Accessory Solar Energy System.

  • Ordinance defines and provides standards for large solar farms, medium solar gardens, small solar gardens, and accessory solar energy systems. Various scales permitted with differing levels of review in various districts.

Butte (California), County of. 2012. Zoning Ordinance. Part 4, Supplemental Use Regulations; Article 25, Section 24-157, Alternative Energy Structures.

  • Ordinance establishes four tiers for solar energy systems corresponding to four Utility land use types. Includes protections for agricultural lands.

Casco (Michigan), Township of. 2013. Ordinance #30-83: To Add Regulations Pertaining to Small, Medium, and Large Solar Energy Systems, Structures, and Facilities.

  • Ordinance defines small (single system of less than ½ acre providing power for on-site use), medium (private system occupying from ½ to 10 acres of land for on- and off-site power use), and large (utility-scale system occupying more than 10 acres for off-site power use) solar energy systems. Provides detailed standards and permitting requirements for each category.

Lakewood (Colorado), City of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Title 17, Zoning Ordinance; Article 4, Use and Supplemental Standards; Table 17.4.1, Use Table. Also, Article 5, Dimensional and Development Standards; Section, Height Requirements; part B(11). Table 17.5.1, Residential Dimensional Standards. Also, Section, Solar Collection System. Also, Article 8, Parking and Loading Standards; Table 17.8.1, Parking Standards. Also, Article 13, Section 17.13.2, Definitions.

  • Ordinance provides standards for accessory solar energy systems permitted by right in all districts, and defines "solar garden," permitted by right in commercial and light industrial districts.

Worcester (Maryland), County of. 2014. County Code. Title ZS, Zoning and Subdivision Control; Subtitle ZS1:III, Supplementary Districts and District Regulations; Section ZS1-344, Alternative Energy Facilities. Rochester, N.Y.: General Code.

  • Defines and establishes standards for small (5 kW or less, serving single lot), medium (5–200 kW, serving single lot or group of lots), and large (200 kW +, providing power to grid) solar energy systems. Small and medium systems are permitted in all districts subject to standards; large systems allowed in most nonresidential districts with minimum lot size requirement, two-step approval process.

Yolo (California), County of. 2014. Code of Ordinances. Title 8, Land Development and Zoning; Chapter 2, Zoning; Article 24, General Provisions; Section 8-2.2420 et seq. Cincinnati, Ohio: American Legal Publishing Corporation.

  • Provides location requirements and various height, setback, and design standards for small, medium, large, and very large solar energy systems.

Solar Energy Online Resources

Solar Outreach Partnership

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – SunShot Initiative

American Planning Organization – SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership

International City/County Management Association – SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA – SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership

National Association of Regional Councils – SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership

Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency

Interstate Renewable Energy Coalition

National Renewable Energy Laboratory – The Open PV Project

Solar America Board for Codes and Standards