As a SolSmart Advisor, the Great Plains Institute and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association worked with Midwestern communities to strengthen solar processes in the region. Four of these communities were in central Wisconsin: Portage County, Stevens Point, Village of Amherst, and Plover. These communities are part of the Grow Solar Central Wisconsin group purchase program which has included 343 participants and 76 properties adding solar systems. During the SolSmart designation process, students at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point studying land use evaluated the zoning ordinances for three of these communities. In follow up memos, the Great Plains Institute and Midwest Renewable Energy Association laid the groundwork for them to update their zoning codes to allow solar as an accessory use by right in all major zones.
- Created an online permitting checklist, increasing transparency for community members and solar installers
- Reviewed local zoning codes and identified restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit solar development
- Allowed solar by-right accessory use in all zones (so solar installations don’t require special permits or hearings)
- Cross-trained both inspection and permitting staff on solar