New PAS Report from APA Connects the Dots Between Local Planning and Solar Energy Use

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Solar irradiance is clearly a valuable local resource. But what types of solar energy investments should your city or county promote through its policies and actions? While there are numerous articles, guides, and reports discussing strategies for growing local solar markets, few of these resources approach the topic from a community planning perspective. That’s where Planning for Solar Energy comes in.

This new Planning Advisory Service Report from SolarOPs team member the American Planning Association places the goal of supporting solar energy use within the context of the local planning system and its emphasis on guiding future community growth and change. Community planners are dedicated to helping cities and counties chart courses to more sustainable futures, finding the right balance of new development and essential services, environmental protection, and innovative change. Ideally, they promote policies and practices that improve equity, strengthen economies, and enhance natural systems. And in order to be effective, planners must think comprehensively and act strategically.

Because communities that are ready to begin planning for solar energy use often wonder where to start, Planning for Solar Energy discusses opportunities for solar energy use through the lens of five strategic points of intervention: (1) visioning and goal setting, (2) plan making, (3) regulations and incentives, (4) development work, and (5) public investments. These are points where planning process participants translate ideas into intentions and intentions into actions.

The report is chock-full of in-depth analysis and short case studies showing how communities of all sizes across the country are boosting solar energy use through their plans and plan implementation tools. As a bonus, the report includes a checklist to help evaluate the solar friendliness of your community’s planning system and a detailed model framework for drafting solar development regulations.