One of the original enemies of solar power generation was restrictive zoning and neighborhood ordinances. Largely a result of ignorance about the safety and aesthetic of solar panels, most of these ordinances that inhibited residential solar installations have been wiped out as demand for – and education about – solar energy has increased. In fact, several states have enacted laws that would trump any local or subdivision rules that prohibit panels for aesthetic reasons. Yet the clash between solar power and zoning ordinances is not over. The focus now has shifted from residential to commercial installations.
Utility scale solar power production is gaining interest. A lot of towns want a lot of renewable power as soon as possible. In response to that demand, many towns and cities around the country are wrestling with zoning issues. Among these issues are allowable size of power plants, zoning districts, special variances for renewable power plants, and others. This is proving to be a difficult task for some municipalities as they work to iron out a comprehensive code.
Some examples include Uxbridge, Massachusetts, where a ban on power plants has long existed but may be amended to allow clean energy sources. Another example involves Dennis, Massachusetts, where existing laws are vague about which zoning districts should allow solar power plants.
As for any negative effect on solar, that doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore. In most cases, the issue is how to properly install solar power plants in a town or county, not whether to allow them. Also, with so many states passing legislation that promotes the initiation of renewable energy, many municipalities are working to achieve compliance with those state laws; in other words, ironing out the details.