How to obtain facts on cities' solar laws

Our city is rewriting its zoning ordinance, but so far has been unable to find any information on ordinances from other cities that require protection for solar devices from neighboring vegetation. Can you tell me of any such ordinances?

Marie Jensen

Northfield, Minn.

Many communities from coast to coast are facing up to the issue you describe. Wider public interest in solar energy has spurred not only the US Congress but states and local jurisdictions to pass laws favorable to solar users.

Further, some states provide tax incentives, grants and loans, land-use guidance, and standards on the subject.

Both Los Alamos County, N.M., as well as the City of Albuquerque, for example , restrict the height of accessory structures and vegetation on abutting lots so as not to block a solar collector's access to the sun. Los Alamos County has decreed that solar collectors may not be shaded between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. by a hypothetical obstruction on a lot line.

You might want to get in touch with both the city and county in New Mexico.

In the State of Washington the law permits local governments to regulate the protection of solar access in comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances. further, it recognizes easements covenants, and other restrictions on the use of real property, created to protect access to sunlight.

In Tennessee, local governments are empowered to protect solar access through zoning regulations. You could get in touch with the Tennessee Energy Authority, Suite 707, Capitol Boulevard Building, Nashville, TN 37219, or phone (615) 741- 2994.

You might get in touch with the Solar Energy Research Intitute, 1536 Cole Boulevard, Golden, CO 80401.

A number of books might be helpful:

"Protecting Solar Access: A Guidebook for Planning Officials." It's available from:

The Superintendent of Documents government Printing Office

Washington, DC 29402

Ask for GPO Stock No. 023-000-00523-9

The cost is $4.50.

"Solar Access Law: Protecting Access to Sunlight for Solar Energy Systems." It's available from:


5285 Port Royal Road

Springfield, VA 22161

Cost is $18.50.

"A Survey of State Legislation Relating to Solar Energy," also available from NTIS (see above). Two volumes: $4.50 and $10.75.

If interested in any of the books, you should check out the prices before mailing a check. A printed price can soon change.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.