New Guidance on Permitting Offers Adaptable Roadmap for NC Solar Energy Development

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The NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) and the NC Solar Center (NCSC) recently released a Template Solar Energy Development Ordinance. The template ordinance addresses some of the most common considerations that arise in the permitting of solar energy facilities. It is intended to offer a path that could facilitate solar project development for companies and landowners while simultaneously creating a framework for local governments to ensure the safeguarding of local values and interests.

The template ordinance represents months of collaboration among multiple stakeholders including solar industry representatives, state government agencies, local planning communities, legal experts, and other non-profit groups. However, the project stopped deliberately short of proposing the resulting template ordinance as a prescriptive approach, suggesting its value instead as an expert guide.

“The template is a unique tool for local governments that are researching how best to design their own solar ordinance and need a model that is tailored to the state,” said Michael Fucci, Regulatory and Market Analyst for NCSEA. “It is also a ‘win’ for companies that can now rely on the template in jurisdictions where a lack of understanding of how to regulate solar development may otherwise have posed a significant barrier to entry.”

Throughout the drafting process NCSEA and NCSC provided drafts of the template to numerous jurisdictions eager to take advantage of the resource. County officials have already used the template ordinance to help them better prepare to manage commercial solar development responsibly while still maintaining the support of solar developers. In 2013 North Carolina installed more solar than 47 other states, and even more solar is expected to be installed in the state in 2014.

“Due to this solar boom, local governments across NC have significant interest in better understanding solar energy,” said Tommy Cleveland, Renewable Energy Project Coordinator at NCSC. “Now that the template ordinance is published we expect to see even greater interest and are well prepared to offer support to interested jurisdictions.”

The Template Solar Ordinance and a historical report detailing key decision points are available on the NCSEA and NCSC sites.