Kentucky counties, cities increasingly adopting ordinances to regulate solar energy projects
A new interactive map shows Kentucky counties and cities that have in recent years adopted ordinances to regulate solar projects amid rising interest by solar developers in establishing installations throughout the state.
The online map, created by the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, highlights county and city governments that have created ordinances to provide a process and rules for implementing solar projects in their local communities, for both small-scale rooftop solar installations and utility-scale solar.
At least 13 county fiscal courts and seven cities, from McCracken County to Morehead, have adopted such ordinances, according to the map. The map also lists solar installations across the state seeking approval or already approved by the Kentucky Electric Generation and Transmission Siting Board.
“Solar developers interested in bringing solar energy to Kentucky communities may find this tool especially helpful in locating potential sites for their projects,” a Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet release stated. “Kentucky citizens may utilize this tool to see if there are solar projects in development or construction near them.”
Any energy generation project in the state, including solar installations, creating 10 megawatts of electricity or more has to go before the state Siting Board to receive a construction certificate before beginning construction on the project.
If a county or city where the solar project is being located also has an ordinance regulating solar projects, then developers also have to satisfy the requirements of those ordinances before moving forward. Such ordinances by local governments have put regulations on how solar projects are installed including pertaining to the removal of trees on the project site, the height of the solar installation and the use of agricultural land for solar projects.
The use of farmland for solar installations has seen increased attention in Kentucky in past years. In 2021, Republican state Sen. Stephen West introduced a bill that would have allowed local governments to prohibit the construction of solar projects on farmland. At that time, West said he was partially inspired by debates happening in Clark County over whether a solar project should be constructed on farmland there.
The Kentucky Resources Council, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, in 2020 created a model ordinance for regulating solar installations for local communities to refer to in crafting such regulations.
County and city zoning officials can add local ordinances regulating solar installations from their communities to the map by clicking a button on the top right-hand corner of the map.
City of Hopkinsville https://eec.ky.gov/Energy/Documents/City%20of%20Hopkinsville%20Solar%20Ordinance.pdf
City of Bowling Green https://eec.ky.gov/Energy/Documents/Bowling%20Green%20Solar%20Ordinance.PDF
Breckinridge County https://eec.ky.gov/Energy/Documents/Breckinridge%202022-07-25%2017-30.pdf
Mason County/Maysville https://eec.ky.gov/Energy/Documents/Mason%20Co%20-%20Maysville.pdf