Ordinances & Zoning for Solar

As part of the Grow Solar Partnership, a toolkit was assembled to equip local governments in Minnesota with information regarding solar development as it relates to planning, zoning, and permitting.

The purpose of the toolkit is to provide resources that will assist communities in addressing barriers to solar energy installations in a manner tailored to each community‚Äôs needs. The Minnesota Toolkit was given the 2017 Innovation in Planning Award by the Minnesota American Planning Association, and was updated in 2020.

What will you find in the toolkit?

  1. State Solar Policy Summary: Solar policy plays an important role in the development of solar energy. This document includes highlights in both the regulatory arena as well as financial incentives that are available to support solar. Additionally, the State Solar Policy Summary includes statutes that enable local governments to regulate solar in planning, zoning, and permitting.
  2. Planning - Comprehensive Plan Guide: The Comprehensive Plan Guide is a tool communities can use when they update their land use plans. This document outlines considerations that communities should make and identifies elements that allow for clear priorities around solar energy objectives. Model language is included to help local governments see the types of goals and policies they could include in their plans.
  3. Zoning - Model Ordinances: All local governments with the authority to regulate zoning should include solar development in their zoning code to recognize the value of solar and alleviate any local concerns. These model ordinances offer language to address a variety of solar land uses, tailored to local conditions and priorities.
  4. Permitting - Local Government Permitting Checklist: Providing a clear and predictable permitting process saves time and money for both contractors and municipalities. Using national best practices, a template has been created that can be adapted locally, with notes on where municipalities might choose to modify standards based on varying circumstances.

Are you a member of the Metropolitan Council? If so, there are fantastic resources for solar planning and technical assistance available to your jurisdiction.

Resources to support communities include useful guides, organizations, and tools from across the State of Minnesota, the Upper Midwest Region, and the Country.