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New report offers inventory of state renewable energy siting policies in the U.S.

June 13, 2024

A new report details state renewable energy siting policies and permitting authorities across the United States, profiling all 50 states plus Puerto Rico. Compiled by researchers from the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) and Clean Air Task Force (CATF), with support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Consensus Building Institute (CBI), this report serves as an essential resource for policymakers, project developers, and community members navigating the complex landscape of renewable energy project permitting and siting across the U.S.  

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to bring the economic, health, and climate benefits of clean energy to people across the nation,” said Jeff Marootian, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. “How renewable energy is planned and approved varies widely across the United States. This new report is an invaluable resource for federal, state, and local lawmakers who want to understand this complex landscape as they work to best address the energy needs of their constituents.” 

The report release also includes an interactive map that allows users to easily explore each state’s authorities and policy features. The map, hosted by DOE, includes high-level information on each state’s siting and permitting processes and links directly to the profiles in the report.  

The research team’s task was to survey and categorize a policy landscape in which every state has essentially a customized approach. “Each state and local jurisdiction has a unique combination of siting and permitting requirements for solar and wind,” said Shawn Enterline, Senior Associate at RAP. “This assessment documents the state-level side of that equation.” 

This report identifies which government entity or entities in each state or territory have the jurisdictional authority to make siting and permitting decisions about large-scale wind and solar projects. The report also covers established timelines for siting and permitting processes, requirements for public involvement in those processes, and the availability of permitting guides and model ordinances designed to assist local jurisdictions. 

“This report clarifies the complex processes in states across the country of securing permits for large-scale wind and solar projects,” said Nelson Falkenburg, Clean Energy Siting Associate at CATF. “By mapping out the regulatory landscape in each state and Puerto Rico, this resource empowers policymakers with critical information for effective siting and permitting processes that support the growth of renewable energy in their communities.” 

“Creating an inventory of state siting and permitting policies will make it possible to conduct research that has historically been difficult to perform,” said Tom Kirchstetter, Director of the Energy Analysis & Environmental Impacts Division at Berkeley Lab. “For example, understanding whether permitting occurs locally, at the state level, or both, will enable valuable research on which policies influence siting outcomes.” 

The report confirms that state approaches to permitting and siting can differ significantly, making them difficult to categorize and generalize. Key findings from the inventory include:  

  • The level of government with principal authority often depends on project size. In 27 states, principal siting and permitting authority depends on the size of the project. Larger projects are more often sited by state-level authorities. 
  • Timelines for permitting vary widely. 31 states have defined timelines for the permitting process, ranging from as short as 30 days to a year. 
  • Most states have public involvement requirements. 34 states mandate public meetings or hearings as part of the permitting process. 
  • Published guidance is available in many states. 29 states have published guides for solar siting and permitting, 33 for wind, and 25 for both. 
  • Model ordinances are available in many states. 27 states offer model ordinances for solar siting, 18 for wind, and 15 for both.  
  • Local authorities typically control siting standards. 37 states grant local authorities the jurisdiction to set siting standards. 

The full report includes individual state profiles for policymakers, developers, and community to members to learn more about permitting and siting in their own states and elsewhere across the U.S. While most states delegate considerable authority to local governments, no two states are alike and there is ultimately no one-size-fits-all approach to siting and permitting large-scale renewable energy projects. 

On June 20 at 1:00pm ET, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab will host a webinar offering a deep dive on the report’s findings. Read the full report here and access the interactive map here. 

Contatto con la stampa

Natalie Volk, Communications Manager, [email protected], +1 703-785-9580

Circa Clean Air Task Force 

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With more than 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world. Visit and follow @cleanaircatf.

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