Solar Power for Municipalities
Municipalities across Pennsylvania are experiencing a large increase in the number of requests from residents, businesses, and organizations for solar energy systems, and they are seeking resources to help their citizens benefit from solar energy.
Appropriate zoning and permitting codes and practices are important for assuring the safety of the citizens of your communities, and also for efficient processing of permits for both municipal staff and for solar contractors. In addition, local government officials – electrical inspectors, code officials, first responders – all need a basic understanding of solar energy and how it interacts with their responsibilities.
Before a solar system can be installed on a property, the system owner must complete all the necessary permitting requirement.
A municipality with an adopted zoning ordinance in Pennsylvania essentially has a basic choice in accommodating non-commercial solar energy systems. It may choose to allow such uses without the need for zoning purview. For example, the municipality may view a rooftop solar panel no differently from an electric heat pump. Both are accessory to a residential dwelling or commercial building, and both could be allowed by the municipality without being subject to local zoning regulation. Or, it may choose to regulate such uses through its zoning ordinance. Zoning regulations can reduce potential negative health, safety and aesthetic impacts associated with solar and wind energy systems such as excessive glare from solar panels and noise from wind turbines
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