Planning and Zoning for Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Michigan Local Governments - May 16

May 16, 2022 6:30PM - 8:30PM

Marquette Charter Township Community Room, 1000 Commerce Dr., Marquette, MI 49855

Contact: For more information, or with any questions, contact Brad Neumann, Senior Extension Educator, at: or 906-315-2661; or Mary Reilly, Extension Educator, at: 231-889-4277 ext. 1 or

Michigan’s diverse energy future is set in motion. Utility companies have bold plans to expand solar options and other forms of renewable energy over the next two decades and beyond. The shift in the utility sector from centralized power generation to a higher number of accessory and principal use solar energy systems (SES) means nearly every jurisdiction in Michigan will be approached about a solar installation within the next five years. However, relatively few of Michigan's 1,850 local government jurisdictions are prepared with policy or regulation. The purpose of this training is to help Michigan communities meet the challenge of becoming solar-ready by addressing SES within their planning policies and zoning regulations.

This training is based on the newly-released Planning and Zoning for Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Michigan Local Governments and will explain:

  • The context for solar energy development in Michigan;
  • How various components, scales, and configurations of SES fit into landscape patterns ranging between rural, suburban, and urban;
  • Planning and siting considerations for solar energy systems including colocation with other land uses; and 
  • Sample zoning approaches that attempt to balance the interests of property owners and the community as a whole.

Participants of in-person events will receive a printed version of Planning & Zoning for Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Michigan Local Governments.

This training is part of a series of events planned this spring and summer on planning and zoning for renewable energy. Participants in this solar training will be eligible to also participate in bus tours (June) and more in-depth online workshops (July/August) organized by the Michigan Association of Planning and University of Michigan, in collaboration with MSU Extension. Registration information for those follow-on activities will be emailed to solar training registrants.

The training series is intended for local government elected and appointed officials; Local government staff, consulting planners, and attorneys.

Continuing Education: Professional planners attending any training will earn 1.5 AICP CM Credits. Master Citizen Planners (MCP) will earn 1.5 hours of continuing education.

Cost: There is no cost to attend the training thanks to a generous grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.


  • Wayne Beyea, JD, AICP, Senior Specialist, MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction
  • Harmony Gmazel, AICP, Extension Educator - Government & Community Vitality
  • Charles Gould, Extension Educator - Bioenergy
  • Sarah Mills, PhD, Senior Project Manager, University of Michigan - Graham Sustainability Institute
  • Brad Neumann, AICP, Senior Extension Educator - Government & Community Vitality
  • Mary Reilly, AICP, Extension Educator - Government & Community Vitality


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Tags: master plan, michigan citizen planner, msu extension, photovoltaics, planning, renewable energy, solar energy, zoning ordinance