Updated Template Solar Ordinance for North Carolina

Three years ago the NC Clean Energy Technology and the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association published a Template Solar Energy Development Ordinance for North Carolina. The 32-page document was developed with a large, broad stakeholder group that worked to achieve a consensus on a template solar ordinance appropriate for North Carolina. The template ordinance itself only covers six pages. The rest of the document provides stakeholder contacts and a wealth of well-organized resources for planners that many solar developers and landowners have also found useful. Since its publication, the development of utility-scale solar systems that initiated the need for the template has continued to grow. During this time many North Carolina cities and counties have updated their ordinances to address solar energy development and many have modeled their new ordinance on this template.

We have heard from planners, elected officials, and solar developers that the template strikes a fair balance between protecting the interests of the community and not unnecessarily restricting development. While there has not been requests for the template ordinance itself to be updated, three years have passed since it was published and some minor updating was needed. The new version, version 1.4, includes updated contact information for the NC Commander’s Council and an updated list of the project information that the Council would like to receive in the notification required in section 7 (aviation notification). Also in the aviation notification section, information was added about a new subscription-based solar glare analysis software (https://www.forgesolar.com) that may soon be the only software available to perform the solar glare hazard analysis required by the template for projects within five nautical miles of an airport. Currently the free Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool (SGHAT) software developed by Sandia National Labs and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is still available, but a notice on the website says that it may be discontinued in 2016 due to licensure of its underlying technology to the new software mentioned above. Additionally, several new resources have been added to the many appendixes and many weblinks have been updated. All of the updates are tracked in a revision history at the end of the document.