This is one of six program guides being produced by the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) as part of its Sustainable Solar Education Project. The project aims to provide information and educational resources to help states and municipalities ensure that distributed solar electricity remains consumer friendly and its benefits are accessible to low- and moderate-income households

Solar power offers Long Islanders a host of benefits — reductions in greenhouse gases and air pollution, healthier communities, affordable access to renewable energy, and good paying jobs. Solar can also play a significant role in helping address the climate crisis and meeting the goals of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). This nation-leading 2019 law requires 70% of the state’s electricity to be generated from renewable resources by 2030 and 100% of electricity to be generated from carbon-free sources by 2040. Many people are familiar with residential rooftop solar systems, which range in size from 3 to 10 kilowatts (kW). Larger commercial and utility-scale solar systems, which can generate hundreds to thousands of kilowatts each, offer the opportunity to realize the benefits of solar power more quickly and cost-effectively in the region. This report shows how solar power can be scaled up without impacting the natural areas that are critical for wildlife, water-quality protection, and quality of life on Long Island. Low-impact sites like rooftops, parking lots, and other land already impacted by development, such as capped landfills and remediated brownfields, are excellent locations for the development of commercial- and utility-scale arrays. Building solar on low-impact sites minimizes impacts to natural ecosystems and habitat, reduces the potential for land-use conflicts and community opposition, decreases project cost and permitting times, and avoids the harmful release of carbon pollution that results from the conversion of natural areas for development. The Nature Conservancy and Defenders of Wildlife created the Long Island Solar Roadmap (the Roadmap) with the aim of advancing deployment of mid- to-large-scale solar power on Long Island in a way that minimizes environmental impacts, maximizes benefits to the region, and expands access to solar energy, including access to benefits by underserved communities. The Roadmap’s creation was supported by a diverse group of Long Island stakeholders. Individuals from state, local, and county government; the solar industry; the farm community; environmental and community organizations; the electric utility; businesses; and academic institutions provided input and guidance on design, research, and strategies. The Roadmap identifies low-impact sites for solar arrays on Long Island and shows their energy generation potential. Key findings also highlight Long Islanders’ opinions and preferences about solar development in their communities and provide information about the costs and benefits associated with bringing more solar online. It is our hope that the cohesive set of strategies and actions provided in this report will help lower barriers to low-impact solar development that meets the needs of all Long Island communities and benefits the whole region. Together, the key findings of the Roadmap point toward a promising future for Long Island as we transition to renewable energy. Taking full advantage of Long Island’s solar potential will require the commitment and collective action of a diverse group of stakeholders, including local and state government, Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), PSEG Long Island, the solar industry, commercial and industrial property owners, farmers and farmland owners, nonprofits, and community organizations.

This playbook is an introductory guide for local governments to facilitate large-scale solar projects in Southwest Virginia. In a region that has a long history of energy production, solar technologies offer enormous potential for economic development and job growth. Large-scale solar can take many forms, including rooftop or ground-mounted installations at local corporate offices, nonprofit organizations, or schools. It can also encompass utility-scale projects over many acres on former agricultural or timberlands, mined lands, or industrial sites. Regardless of the type of project, solar is a widely popular, cost-competitive energy choice that helps create sustainable and prosperous communities. This playbook is directed to municipal and county governments that have an essential role to play in encouraging large-scale solar projects. The first section provides an overview of state and national trends, including recent state legislation that will impact local oversight of solar development. This is followed by an overview of the solar project approval process from a developer’s perspective. The next section is an overview of the state and local permitting process for solar projects, followed by other development considerations such as local tax revenue options, financing incentives, and considerations for solar on brownfields and previously mined lands. The playbook concludes with a step-by-step guide for local governments to facilitate large-scale solar development. This playbook is part of the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia’s effort to bring solar energy and associated jobs to the region. Over the past few years, the workgroup has met with stakeholder groups and crafted a strategy for local solar energy development. The workgroup has collaborated with cities and counties to bring SolSmart designation to eight counties and cities, implemented group purchase campaigns for commercial solar, and led research efforts.

Solar siting is advancing rapidly in New York to meet the state’s climate goals of 70% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% clean energy by 2040, and much of that development is targeted towards farmland. However, with the right policies, incentives and research, solar development can avoid or minimize the most serious negative impacts on the availability and viability of New York’s best farmland and the strength of its agricultural economy and food security. Implementing the smart solar siting strategies recommended in this report can help farmers and agricultural communities capitalize on the benefits of solar development, explore new markets, participate in cutting-edge research partnerships, and continue growing the food we need now and in the future, all while combatting climate change.

While solar facilities are a viable source of clean energy with many economic opportunities available to developers, landowners, and local communities, their recent deployment has led to a growing recognition of potential land use conflicts. The declining technology costs, tax breaks, financial incentives, and affordability of rural lands have been the main drivers of the recent development of solar facilities across Virginia. However, as these facilities grow larger and more prevalent, they will become an increasingly important component of local land use patterns in many parts of rural Virginia. Accordingly, proper land use planning serves a critical role in ensuring that Virginia successfully meets future clean energy goals while also promoting sustainable and efficient land use practices. Analyzing the ongoing land use impacts of utility-scale solar development, establishing a process for tracking future land use patterns, and providing guidance to consider the best land use practices is the primary purpose of this plan. The goal of this plan is not to undermine the opportunity and potential of solar energy. Instead, this plan seeks to inform solar energy development policies through a land use planning perspective to promote the sustainable development of solar facilities. The recommendations of this plan are intended for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy and are informed by the results of this research. However, the findings and recommendations for this plan are also informative and useful for a variety of stakeholders. The sustainable development of solar energy facilities in Virginia will ultimately be a collaborative process and the following recommendations are intended to complement the ongoing work of numerous stakeholders across the state.

This white paper provides an overview of these state efforts and offers suggestions for what other states can do to promote solar while also creating or preserving healthy habitats for pollinators.

This toolkit is intended for state and municipal lawmakers, farmers, and researchers hoping to improve or better understand their community’s farmland solar policies. It identifies key areas of state law affecting how much and what kind of solar development occurs on farmland, as well as farmers’ access to clean energy.

The avenues by which Michigan and the United States provide the electricity essential for the economy and quality of life are in urgent need of change to ensure reliability and affordability while reducing the environmental impacts of this generation and improving social equity. These energy transitions are among the greatest challenges facing countries worldwide today. Another salient global challenge is reversing the decline in pollinators, including numerous species of native bees, honey bees, butterflies and birds. Pollinators provide critical ecosystem services but are facing numerous threats. These two grand challenges intersect as stakeholders work to identify the appropriate landscapes and places to develop solar power in Michigan. Agricultural land is desirable for solar installations for reasons that will be explained in this report. The state of Michigan is allowing solar developers to locate, or “site,” solar panels on preserved farmland but only if they develop habitat on this land to support pollinators. Other states are developing or have already developed standards developers must meet before they can advertise solar power plants as pollinator friendly. This intertwines these two urgent challenges in ways that are laudable; however, numerous questions of feasibility and best practices for achieving quality habitat remain unanswered. Multiple types of expertise and experiences from stakeholders from both energy and agricultural domains are required to successfully address these two challenges. In order to effect change, these stakeholders should collaborate more closely to overcome challenges of interpretation, problem definition and costs. This report identifies and characterizes those issues to facilitate stakeholders’ development of more optimal solutions. Overall, we identified several different paradigms through which stakeholders in Michigan viewed the appropriateness of solar power development on farmland. Some stakeholders viewed solar siting as a decision that should be left to an individual landowner because they have private property rights. Moreover, solar leasing would help to diversify farmers’ incomes, reducing the risks from seasonal and price volatility. Some stakeholders even saw solar leasing as part of farmland preservation, as it could enable a struggling farming operation to stay in business and a farmer to continue to own the land leased for solar rather than selling it for housing development. Other stakeholders saw farmland as a public good and opposed using prime farmland for solar power generation. These stakeholders often assumed that solar power could be targeted specifically toward low-quality agricultural land, or urban rooftops and brownfields rather than agricultural lands. For these stakeholders, inclusion of pollinator habitat and other multi-land uses tended to improve their opinion of solar power.

This research explores conflicts and synergies between preserving farmland and scaling up solar development in Massachusetts. 

This report explores the concept of dual-use solar throughout the United States and its application in Oregon and Washington.  This report describes the current state of research and development of the four main kinds of dual-use solar: (1) Pollinator-friendly dual-use (2) Conservation dual-use (3) Grazing dual-use (4) Agrivoltaics mixing solar and crops