Planning and Zoning for solar developments training partnership between MSU Extension, Michigan Energy Office

As prices continue to fall more and more people are interested in the economics of solar power.

The economics of solar have never been better and individuals, businesses, utilities and cooperatives are planning projects all over Michigan. Is your master plan and zoning ordinance ready? Are you looking for a higher level of understanding about the types, technology and impacts of solar installations? Be sure to register for our upcoming educational events. AICP Credit pending.

Michigan local governments are becoming more interested in exploring options for solar energy generation and many communities need to start the planning process to ready their jurisdiction.

Local governments play a significant role in enabling solar energy installations and even incentivizing its use. There are two basic mechanisms through which local governments in Michigan can accomplish this: the master plan and the zoning ordinance. The master plan sets a community vision for the future with goals, objectives and specific policies to make that vision a reality. The master plan should take solar installations into account and, more importantly, assess the areas of the community that are most appropriate for solar energy installations. The zoning ordinance (and possibly other development regulations) sets the legal standards (and possibly incentives) for siting and building solar energy systems.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Energy Office have partnered to offer a series of educational programs for professional planners and local government officials to learn about steps and considerations for planning and zoning for solar energy development. The program will cover:

  • The context of solar energy development, including the new Michigan law and the state of the industry.
  • Introduction to types/technologies/scales of solar, including Michigan examples.
  • Local government planning approaches, with emphasis on planning for marginal lands first.
  • Zoning tools and techniques for solar, including siting and feasibility concerns.

The cost of the program is $35 and if participants are already Master Citizen Planners or they register in groups of two or more from the same municipality the cost drops to $30. To register for the event visit: 

Upcoming event locations and dates: (6 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. except for the webinar)

September 19: ALPENA, 4385 US 23 North. Alpena Township

October 3: MASON, 121 E. Maple St.  The Hilliard Building

October 4: NORTH MUSKEGON, 2735 W. Giles Rd. Laketon Township

October 10: DETROIT, 3408 Woodward Ave. MSU Detroit Center (free/secure parking nearby)

October 12: ONLINE (live webinar): 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

AICP Certification Maintenance credits are pending. Master Citizen Planners will earn 2 hours of continuing education. MSU Extension is grateful for its partnership with the Michigan Energy Office to help put on these events.

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