North Carolina is rapidly becoming a leader in the nation for solar energy development. By the end of 2012, the state had 229 megawatts (MW) of total installed capacity, ranking it sixth in the US. Despite this growth, North Carolina lacks a unified approach toward regulating development in a responsible and efficacious way. Only 18 counties and 34 cities have established ordinances specific to solar development, often containing significantly diverse development standards.
The N.C. Solar Center and N.C. Sustainable Energy Association have embarked on a project to develop a template solar development and permitting ordinance. The template is intended for local governments to adapt and adopt. The project goal is to facilitate the development of solar utilizing the most responsible and acceptable methods. Thus, this process requires the input of a multitude of stakeholders, from industry, government, and local communities, in order to create the most relevant and effective policy for North Carolina.
In order to achieve this transparency and gather important input, we are employing the NCSU Institute for Emerging Issues “Commons”. This online tool will allow us to gather your input on 10 key challenges we have identified for drafting the template ordinance. On the Commons, you will be able to suggest your individual ideas as well as comment on and rate any user’s ideas their feasibility, effectiveness, and innovation for each of the 10 challenges.
In order to provide input on the Commons you must first register, which is a free and quick process. You will then need to use your Commons username and password to log into the site each time you would like to provide input.
The Commons tool will accept input only until August 11. At this time solar industry and general stakeholder working groups will receive a report summarizing the input received from the Commons tool and will have access to review all of the input directly in the tool as well. These two groups will work together to create a draft template ordinance. After several rounds of revisions, the latest draft will pass to a final steering committee established by the NC Sustainable Energy Association and the NC Solar Center. This steering committee will consist of approximately 20 stakeholders representing key stakeholders including planning, local government, agriculture, forestry, economic development, environmental, wildlife, utilities, solar industry, and others. This committee will draft the final template ordinance using all the input gained in the earlier stages of the project. The goal is to unveil a final template solar ordinance in November.