Promote Solar Rights
Adopt ordinances that encourage distributed solar generation and protect solar rights and access including reasonable roof setback requirements
a. Designate rooftop solar systems an allowed use in all zones of your community – 50 points
b. Work with local fire officials to craft solar-friendly setback requirements while respecting firefighter safety
concerns. Document your efforts in writing. Example: Boulder Compromise – 50 points
c. Adopt policies encouraging community solar projects and arrays on multifamily buildings to help make such projects available to low-income residents and those without solar access on their roofs – 25 points
d. Adopt written goals that support balancing solar development with other community goals such as urban forestry and historic preservation – 25 points
Various policies can create a more favorable environment for solar rooftop systems. By implementing policies that allow installations and ensure access to solar access, fewer conflicts will emerge in the future.
- Solar Friendly Communities commissioned a Model Solar Ordinance
- Boulder’s Solar Access Ordinance creates “Solar Fences” by placing restrictions on shading from new builds within the city.
See the Solar Access Guide
- The 2012 International Fire Code includes three-foot setback requirements for most roof edges with PV panels. Solar installers believe this will make many installations impossible, or at least reduce the amount of roof space available for solar. Solar Friendly Communities has been involved in efforts to make compromises. In Boulder, CO, the city and the fire department have reached a compromise with the solar business community. See Boulder Compromise to 2012 International Fire Code.
- Here’s an example of a compromise fire code from Golden, CO.
- Oregon worked on a special code change that protects firefighter roof access and solar economics:
- Specific inspection requirements regarding fire safety and PV are sometimes explicitly called out in jurisdictions. One example for explaining requirements is to list them out in standard permit documentation as Westminster has done in Colorado. Click here for more information.
- The Department of Energy has developed a comprehensive document summarizing key actions that local governments can take to make their communities more solar friendly. Click here for more information.
- The Mid-America Regional Council’s (MARC) Solar Ready KC program is another recipient of the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge (along with Solar Friendly Commnities, which you are reading about on this web site). See what MARC is doing to make it easier for Americans to go solar.
How to make it happen
Work with the local sustainability office, historic preservation advocates, fire officials, and your urban forester to assess the feasibility of adopting policies that explicitly balance potentially competing community desires such as urban forestry, historic preservation and solar access.