The SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership produced briefing papers, case studies, technical reports, fact sheets, how-to guides, and other resources for local governments seeking to make solar a mainstream energy source.
This guide can help stimulate ideas or provide a framework for a comprehensive solar plan for a community. It introduces a range of policy and program options that can help a community build a local solar infrastructure. Download
Solar Briefing Papers
The American Planning Association has prepared a series of briefing papers and an introductory podcast designed to help planners and public officials understand some key issues in planning for solar energy use. These and other resources can be accessed at on the APA website.
- Solar Community Engagement Strategies for Planners
- Solar Mapping
- Integrating Solar Energy into Local Plans
- Integrating Solar Energy into Local Development Regulations
- Balancing Solar Energy Use with Potential Competing Interests
- Recycling Land for Solar Energy Development
Bring Solar to Your Community: Themes, Insights, and Summaries from 27 Case Studies: Distills themes and insights of roof-top solar PV deployment gained from 27 case studies of local government efforts regarding policies, planning, investments, financing mechanisms, partnerships, and education.
Profiles in Regional Solar Planning: A Handbook and Resource Guide: Prepared by the National Association of Regional Councils, this is a resource for regional council directors and their energy, sustainability, and environmental planners, as well as the local elected officials who govern the regional councils, to learn how regional planning organizations can play a key role in moving solar energy development forward. By focusing on case studies and regionally specific tools, the guide seeks to be a practical and applicable resource.
How-to Guide: Solar-Ready Buildings Planning Guide
This National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) planning guide presents detailed guidelines on designing solar-ready buildings with minimized costs and maximized energy potential. www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/46078.pdf
PAS Essential Info Packet
This PAS Essential Info Packet brings together articles and guidebooks, comprehensive plan sections, and an extensive collection of sample ordinances covering solar access, solar energy systems, and more. http://www.planning.org/pas/infopackets/open/eip30.htm
Sample Government Document: Oro Valley (AZ) Solar Residential Permitting Ordinance
This Oro Valley ordinance requiring installation of solar-ready measures in new residential homes demonstrates how to enable solar-ready designs through effective policy and legislation. www.orovalleyaz.gov/Assets/_assets/DIS/Permitting/Residential+Solar+Ordinance+09-11.PDF
Solar Energy Education & Training Best Practices: The Series
IREC assembled some of the best experts in the country on solar training, education, and workforce development to create this compendium of Best Practices. The documents were thoughtfully designed to give solar instructors the right tools for the job of training a highly skilled, globally competitive solar energy workforce for the 21st Century. This suite of Best Practices documents builds on IREC’s earlier versions of Best Practices from 2008 and 2010. http://www.irecusa.org/publications/best-practices-the-series/
How-to Guide: Solarize Guidebook
The NREL’s “Solarize Guidebook” acts as roadmap for project planners and solar advocates trying to jump-start their own successful Solarize campaigns. www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/54738.pdf
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Encouraging Solar Development through Community Association Policies and Processes
This guide discusses the advantages of solar energy and examines the elements of state solar rights provisions designed to protect homeowner access to these benefits. It presents a number of recommendations associations can use to help bring solar to their communities. http://thesolarfoundation.org/sites/thesolarfoundation.org/files/HOA%20Guide_Final.pdf
This guide aims to assist local governments in engaging lending institutions on financing residential and small commercial solar PV projects to increase the adoption of solar power in their communities.
This report is intended as a resource for industry stakeholders, property owners, and state adn local government officials involved in the administration of property taxes and details current state practices associated with the assessment and taxation of PV equipment.
Technical Report:The Pennsylvania Model Ordinance
The Pennsylvania Model Ordinance (found on page 12 of the pdf linked below) provides a model for local governments establishing reasonable standards in their development of small-scale solar. These standards center on permitting, height restrictions, and design and installation requirements. files.dep.state.pa.us/Energy/Office%20of%20Energy%20and%20Technology/OETDPortalFiles/PA%20Energy/Solar%20Working%20Group/SolarMunicipalGuideFinal.pdf
Technical Report: The Massachusetts Model Zoning Bylaw
The Massachusetts Model Zoning Bylaw sets forth a framework for standards facilitating the development of large-scale solar, which typically include requirements concerning primary use, height limits, lot coverage, setback, and fencing and enclosure.
This guide provides an explanation of solar energy technology, descriptions of the current regulatory context governing the use of solar panels on historic properties at the state and local level, and proposes regulatory solutions that take into consideration the value of both historic and energy resources.
Technical Report: A Comprehensive Review of Solar Access Law in the United States
This guide from Solar America Board of Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs) provides a comprehensive review of solar access laws in the US, as well as a model statute and ordinance (page 12), both of which serve to help local governments in drafting their own solar access laws. www.solarabcs.org/about/publications/reports/solar-access/pdfs/Solaraccess-full.pdf
Technical Report: Sharing Success: Emerging Approaches to Efficient Rooftop Solar Permitting
This IREC report examines ways for both local governments and solar energy system installers to mitigate costs associated with the solar permitting process, focusing on three main areas: the pre-application period, application submittal and review, and inspections. The report also contains specific examples of legislation designed to streamline solar permitting. www.irecusa.org/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-Sharing-Success-w-cover-revised-final052012.pdf
Technical Report: Expedited Permit Process for PV Systems
In this report, Solar ABCs presents its recommendations to local governments concerning the expedited permit process for small-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems and provides step-by-step guidelines explaining how to effectuate the necessary adjustments. www.solarabcs.org/about/publications/reports/expedited-permit/pdfs/Expermitprocess.pdf
Sample Government Document: Solar PV Installation Standard, Philadelphia Dept. of Licenses and Inspections Permit Services Division
Philadelphia’s prescriptive path solution to solar permitting allows for certain solar electric projects to be approved with only an electrical permit (without requiring a building permit). www.phila.gov/green/PDFs/Streamlined%20Solar%20Standards.pdf
Website: Solar Panel Permits Webpage
Breckenridge (CO) has taken advantage of electronic materials, standardized permit requirements, and utilization of standard certifications to offer a short turn-around for solar permits, all of which is clearly communicated on their website. www.townofbreckenridge.com/index.aspx?page=694
Net Metering and Interconnection
Website: Freeing the Grid
Freeing the Grid is an organization that highlights “best practices” for net-metering and interconnection, while grading each state in detail on their respective policies. freeingthegrid.org
Technical Report: Net Metering Model Rules
This IREC report presents the most effective net-metering policies with a focus on the size of systems eligible for net metering, program capacity caps, and treatment of annual excess generation. irecusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/IREC_NM_Model_October_2009-1-22.pdf
Solar Permitting, Inspection and Interconnection Toolkit
This toolkit provides clear, efficient and cost effective ways to simplify and streamline solar permitting, inspection and interconnection (PII) procedures. The toolkit is intended to provide readers with many of the key resources necessary to understand both the basics of PII practices and some of the important nuances that must be considered when promoting or pursuing associated policies or other related activities. http://solaroutreach.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SPII_Final.pdf
State-Specific Solar Policies
Website: DSIRE Solar
DSIRE Solar offers a wealth of information, data, and analysis concerning each state’s solar energy policies. www.dsireusa.org/solar
EERE Useful links
Website: SunShot Resource Center
EERE Energy Basics
DOE Energy Savers