Solar photovoltaics (PV) are the fastest-growing energy source in the world, and utility-scale solar installations are the most cost-effective solar PV option. Federal and state tax incentives have accelerated the energy industry’s efforts to bring facilities online as quickly as possible — but this has created a new challenge for local governments, as many are ill-prepared to consider this new and unique land-use option. How should planners evaluate utility-scale solar facility applications, update their communities' land-use regulations, and achieve positive benefits for hosting these clean energy facilities?
This PAS Memo examines utility-scale solar facility uses and related land-use issues. It defines and classifies these facilities, analyzes their land-use impacts, and makes recommendations for how to evaluate and mitigate those impacts. Specific recommendations and sample language for addressing utility-scale solar in comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances are provided at the end of the article.
About the Author
Darren Coffey, AICP
Darren K. Coffey, AICP, is co-owner of The Berkley Group, a local government consulting firm in Virginia. Prior to forming The Berkley Group, he worked as a land-use planner for various localities in North Carolina and Virginia. Coffey has bachelor of science degrees in economics and geography from James Madison University, a master of arts in geography from Rutgers University, and attained AICP certification in 2000. He may be reached at email@example.com. www.bgllc.net www.waypt360.com