5.2.9 DER Permitting and Zoning Practices

LPDD Recommendation: “The United States or individual states might adopt no-permit laws like Germany’s. Germany has a nationwide building law that says no permit is required for solar PV or hot water installations as a matter of principle. This national law supersedes local and state law, and local authorities otherwise have the burden to prove additional requirements are necessary.”

LPDD Recommendation: “The installation of solar PV systems in the United States should be governed by nationwide standards.”

LPDD Recommendation: “States should create technology-driven uniform standards to address electrical, building, and fire requirements for all DG PV installations.

LPDD Recommendation: “Local governments with zoning control should avoid impediments to the development of renewable sources by enacting ordinances to explicitly address solar development instead of requiring applicants to navigate through the uncertainty of general zoning codes.”

LPDD Recommendation: “Local governments should participate in attempts to reduce the soft costs of installing DG solar by simplifying their permitting processes.”

LPDD Recommendation: “State legislatures should help cut costs of deploying all DG thermal technologies by standardizing permitting costs and creating uniform processes, particularly geothermal heat pumps and solar thermal technologies. If statewide statutes are not enacted, state regulatory agencies or outside groups should create model ordinances or best practices for the local level.”


See also: New Buildings, which discusses zoning, building codes, mandatory renewable energy systems, zero net energy or zero net energy ready buildings standards, etc.

Hartford CT Renewable Energy Zoning

Hartford permits building-mounted solar and roof-mounted wind energy systems as an accessory structure by right within all jurisdictions, subject to use-specific regulations.

Stoughton WI Renewable Zoning

In 2018, Stoughton WI enacted a local ordinance that allows solar and wind energy production, by-right, in every zoning district. The systems must comply with district-level regulations, including height and setback.