- Solar Renewable Energy Ordinance Framework [0.6 MB pdf]
This framework provides guidance and example language for creating a zoning process that ensures proper siting, installation, and maintenance of a solar PV system. The language provided can be modified to become a stand-alone ordinance, or incorporated into a municipality's existing zoning ordinance. Note: The language provided in this framework is not intended to be wholly adopted. Please consult with your municipal solicitor.
This framework addresses smaller-scale accessory-use applications that are intended to serve as an accessary structure to the primary use and reduce on-site consumption of utility power. The regulatory language provided here will be useful for most residential and commercial uses. It is not meant to give guidance on large-scale, primary-use solar projects, such as solar farms or utility-scale solar projects. A utility-scale solar energy project is not based on the number of panels or energy generated, but on the purpose of the energy. If the power from a solar application's primary purpose is to be sold for commercial gain, then it can be considered a utility-scale solar application. Energy generated by a utility-scale solar application is typically sold to energy companies, rather than end users. The owners of the utility-scale solar application obtain a permit from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are listed by the U.S. Department of Energy as a power generation source. However, the issues concerning the regulation of solar energy systems as an accessory use and those associated with solar farms are too great to be covered in one document. The regulatory language provided will help you create ordinances that will handle most solar energy system applications in your municipality. If you would like more guidance on utility-scale solar ordinance language, please refer to the resources listed at the end of your framework, or contact DVRPC or your county planning department.
For More Information
- PA Land Trust: Zoning for Non-Commercial Solar and Wind Systems
- PAS Essential Info Packets: Planning and Zoning for Solar Energy (PAS EIP-30);
- Model Solar Ordinances and Commentary [2.0 MB pdf];
- Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Pennsylvania Municipal Officials [1.1 MB pdf]
- Guidebook for Solar Photovoltaic Projects In Philadelphia [14.1 MB pdf].