Municipal Tools for Solar Siting

The benefits of well-planned solar siting policies are wide-ranging:

  • Reduced competition between renewable energy generation and agricultural production.
  • Cultivation of social and political acceptance of solar development.
  • Protection of current and future agricultural land uses.
  • Preservation of prime agricultural land and other important farmland.
  • Economic growth for both the agricultural and solar sectors.
  • Regulatory clarity for both farmers and solar developers.
  • Improved permitting efficiency and reduced administrative costs.
  • Accelerated deployment of renewable energy to reach clean energy goals.

The Maine Farmland Trust recommends the following guidelines:

1. Where possible, avoid land identified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service as “Prime Farmland” or “Farmland of Statewide Importance,” or otherwise cause productive farmland to be taken out of production, including land leased for agricultural uses.

2. Preferentially use previously-developed, disturbed, degraded, or marginally productive portions of the farm property. This includes rooftops, land within and around farmstead areas, sand and gravel pits, and other areas with low utility for agricultural production.

3. Encourage dual-use projects, where agricultural production and electricity production from solar installations occur together on the same piece of land.

4. Build, operate, and decommission projects in ways that preserve the ability for the land to be farmed in the future and that do not inhibit access to or the productivity of farmland surrounding the solar installation.

5. Minimize the impacts of grid connection on the agricultural resources of the property.

6. Where applicable, projects should benefit the farm business directly by providing electricity to meet the energy needs (in whole or in part) of the farm.

For an in depth discussion, check out this webinar from the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Below are key resources than can help you ensure that solar development benefits farms and farmland in your community, rather than competing with it.


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Municipal Tools for Solar Siting PDF
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