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Zoning Changes for Solar and Wind Energy Permits

Wind energy and solar energy industries grew at a healthy pace in 2011. There are several federal and statewide incentives in place including a U.S. Treasury Department program that reimburses developers 30 percent of project costs. The need and desire for renewable energy continous to grow. Cities and counties across the nation are realizing the benefits of attracting such projects to their region and community along with the need to allow for zoning exemptions, solar and wind energy friendly land use policies plus fast track approvals of solar energy projects.

According to CleanEnergyAuthority.com below are the top 10 solar energy friendly states:
  1. California
  2. New Jersey
  3. Colorado
  4. New Mexico
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Connecticut
  8. Oregon
  9. Minnesota
  10. Tie Hawaii (with 14 megawatts of solar production in 2008), New York (22 megawatts), Arizona (25 megawatts), and Nevada
25 cities are part of the DOE program that 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. Here are 2 examples of how these cities implemented zoning changes to support and encourage green energy.

New York City, New York

NYC Solar Empowerment Zones are strategically selected geographical regions where solar power is most viable and beneficial from a technical standpoint. Each of the three initial zones has a "day-peaking" energy usage profile that conforms closely to the daily production of solar power. "Establishing Solar Zones will help target solar installations where they make the most sense," said New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky. "This will provide environmental benefits and help create green jobs in the New York City solar industry."

Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN

Minneapolis and Saint Paul engaged in dialogue with installers, manufacturers, and land use planners on how development regulations should be changed to allow solar investment while protecting community character and property values. The Twin Cities Solar America Cities program worked with other cities across the nation to assess options for zoning and development code modifications regarding solar energy.

Clearly changing zoning laws is not a straightforward process. However forward looking communities can look at the above examples and implement best practices. Please do contact PZR® for all solar energy zoning related questions.
The Planning & Zoning Resource Company
America"s Leading Zoning Consultant
1300 South Meridian Avenue, Suite 400, Oklahoma City, OK 73108
Call Toll-Free: (800) 344-2944
Canada: (405) 840-4344 x4475
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