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Town Planning Guides Renewable Energy Systems

Cedar Corporation’s Ken Jaworski presented at the Wisconsin Towns Association Convention in Wisconsin Dells yesterday. His topic focused on the following:
Update on the Use of Comprehensive Planning to Guide Utility-Scale (>100 MW) Solar Systems: Due to the national and global efforts to reduce the dependency on fossil fuel consumption, renewable energy project developers are aggressively seeking acreage to site utility-scale solar and wind projects in Wisconsin. Rural towns with large tracts of undeveloped agricultural land next to transmission infrastructure are uniquely positioned to become “hosts” to these large-scale solar energy projects, oftentimes with mixed resident support. Over the last year, growing evidence suggests towns can be proactive through their comprehensive planning efforts (Wis. Stat. §66.1001), to assess and guide where renewable energy projects may be sited to be most advantageous to the town, residents, and landowners. Solar application reviews continue to point to the importance of towns having a compliant (updated within the last 10 years) Comprehensive Plan and having more local input on the siting of solar arrays BEFORE Wisconsin Public Service Commission testimony. This session will discuss, with examples, how towns utilized land use planning to develop criteria that help protect incompatible areas while identifying areas that could accommodate the benefits of renewable energy.

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