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Solar Zoning


Gain clarity of appropriate regulations of solar land uses and how best practices in solar zoning are being applied through the nation.

Every community in the U.S. is seeing increasing pressure for solar energy development. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that solar and wind energy will be the fastest growing source of U.S. electricity generation for at least the next two years, and likely for longer. This development will occur on private land and buildings currently under the jurisdiction of local governments, throughout every part of the nation. However, most zoning ordinances are silent about solar land uses, and decision-makers have little or no grounding in how solar development is similar to or different from other types of development. This topic provides context and clarity for appropriate regulation of solar land uses consistent with community goals, and how best practices in solar zoning are being applied through the nation. Like any form of development, solar development offers the community benefits and risks; understanding siting choices and site design options can help communities maximize benefits and minimize risks of this rapidly growing new form of development in our communities.



Brian Ross, AICP, LEED GA

Brian Ross, AICP, LEED GA

Great Plains Institute

  • Program director at the Great Plains Institute, manages renewable energy technical assistance, assisted dozens of local governments across multiple states on zoning, programs, from Colorado to Illinois
  • 25 years of direct experience in local and regional land use planning, managed dozens of comprehensive plans and zoning updates for cities across the Midwest
  • Co-author of the American Planning Association’s Planning for Solar Energy PAS Report
  • Authored Local Government Solar Energy Toolkits for four states (MN, IL, WI, IA), including model solar ordinances tailored to each state’s statutory enabling language
  • SolSmart National Criteria Advisory Committee, developing the best practice criteria for this national solar-ready certification program for local governments
  • Project leader for a national Solar Energy Innovation Network team, working with the National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Conducts national trainings and webinars on solar planning and zoning; multiple trainings at APA’s National Planning Conference, multiple State APA conferences, Solar Power International, Smart Growth Network, National SolSmart webinar trainings, Sustainable States Network
  • M.A. degree in urban and regional planning, University of Iowa
  • Can be contacted at [email protected] or 612-767-7296
Megan Day, AICP

Megan Day, AICP

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

  • Project leader, renewable energy planner at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, leading research, analysis, and technical assistance on local energy planning and policy and utility-scale photovoltaic development
  • Author of multiple studies, technical reports, and articles on city energy planning, community data analysis, renewable energy deployment
  • National technical solar advisory through the SolSmart program, working with dozens of communities across the country to integrate solar land uses in zoning codes
  • Part of NREL’s InSPIRE research, examining synergies between solar farm development, agriculture, and natural systems to document low-impact solar development designs
  • Extensive solar development experience, including overseeing regulatory compliance and land entitlement staff and processes for more than 600 acres and 110 megawatts of PV plant installations across the U.S.
  • State and national trainings and webinars on solar zoning best practices, including national SolSmart webinars, APA National Planning Conference, State APA conferences, Smart Growth Network, U.S. DOE and NREL sponsored webinars
  • M.A. degree in urban and regional planning, University of Colorado

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