SolSmart Designees

Stearns County

SolSmart Silver
Population: 161,075
Designation Level: SolSmart Silver
Year Designated: 2017

As solar energy booms across the country thanks to plummeting costs, more and more communities will have the opportunity to host large-scale solar farms. These projects can bring a host of benefits to a municipality or county, from construction jobs to new property tax revenues — not to mention providing a new source of clean, carbon-free energy to help meet local climate action goals. At the same time, large solar installations can raise a host of questions from members of the community that leaders need to address.

A cover story in 2020 for Planning Magazine, published by the American Planning Association, offers a step-by-step guide for communities to manage large-scale solar development. As a featured success story, the article highlights Stearns County, Minnesota, who worked with SolSmart Advisor Great Plains Institute to create a predictable, transparent process for large-scale solar projects. This includes groundbreaking standards for enhancing stormwater protection and pollinator habitats, with benefits to the environment and local agriculture.

This acknowledges our current practices of making the permit application process clear and easy to follow and providing online resources for local solar development.
- Angie Berg, Environmental Services Land Use Division Supervisor