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Renewable Energy Siting - Solar: About

The focus of this guide is the search for local land use laws relevant to siting small-scale solar energy systems. This research guide includes links to primary and secondary sources.

About This Research Guide

This guide is written for use by Pace Law School students, faculty and staff, and contains links to land use law resources, with a focus on zoning and planning. Use this guide to find local laws which put into effect the land use plans of local governments, and the planning documents, both local and regional, which inform land use planning.  

  • Many treatises and some books are made available on Lexis and Westlaw.  Where secondary sources are available on Lexis or Westlaw, links have been provided along with call numbers for secondary sources that we hold in print. 
  • Some of the links included in in this guide require passwords which are available to Pace Law School students, faculty and staff via TWEN.  

Researchers from other institutions should ask their librarians for assistance if they do not have access to the materials noted in this guide.  

This research guide is an ongoing project. I would like to thank the staff at Pace's Land Use Law Center for Sustainable Development for their many helpful suggestions regarding websites and topics to include in the guide, and I welcome additional comments/suggestions from anyone who is using this guide.

Introduction to Siting Small-Scale Solar Energy Systems

Solar energy fits the definition of an environmentally friendly  source of renewable energy because it is an energy source that will not run out, and it does not require the burning of fossil fuels.[1]  

Siting solar systems requires an understanding of relevant state and local laws. 

There are many legal issues associated with the use of solar energy from lease and easement agreements, to the siting of rooftop versus ground systems, water rights for concentrated solar power projects, and general compliance with permitting regulations including environmental and land use laws.  Some of the common barriers that have confronted siting of solar energy facilities include: covenants, conditions and restrictions in planned communities, building code compliance, land use regulations an historic district regulations. [2]

Researchers looking at land use law issues will need to consider federal and state statutes, federal and state cases, and federal and state administrative regulations and decisions. These resources can easily be searched by researchers with access to Westlaw and/or Lexis.

More difficult to locate are the local laws which put into effect the land use plans of local governments, and the planning documents, both local and regional, which inform land use planning. 

[1] Solar Energy, U.S. EPA,  http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/energy/re_solar.html (last visited Sept. 13, 2014).

[2] John R. Nolon and Patricia E. Salkin, Land Use and Sustainable Development Law: Cases and Materials, (8th ed. 2012).

LibGuide Author

Vicky Gannon's picture
Vicky Gannon
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