Solar rules under review

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Planning Commission will review proposed language for a solar ordinance, Thursday.

The purpose of the ordinance is to provide appropriate locations and facilitate the development of solar energy systems. The ordinance establishes performance standards to protect properties from adverse effects.

This proposed ordinance would apply to different types of solar energy systems such as a solar system integrated to a building, a community solar energy system, grounded mounted solar energy systems, roof-mounted systems, solar farms, solar hot water systems or institutional use solar systems.

The ordinance language would set regulations for residential, business, industrial and agricultural districts. Residential districts would be permitted to use solar energy systems that were ground-mounted, roof-mounted or architecturally integrated to the building.

The ground-mounted systems would be restricted to back yards and need to comply with setback requirements and could not exceed 15 feet in height. The surface area of all ground-mounted solar systems cannot exceed 120 square feet.

Building-mounted or integrated solar energy systems would have clearance requirements. All solar energy systems must have a three-foot clearance around all roof edges to facilitate emergency responder access and no part of the system can project beyond the peak of the roof.

Business, industrial and agricultural residence districts had similar regulations, but the total surface area for a ground-mounted energy system in these districts is limited to 15% of the lot size or 1,000 square feet.

The installation of a solar energy system requires a building permit. The applicant must provide the city with proof of an interconnection agreement with the New Ulm Public Utilities prior to the issuance of a building permit.

The Planning Commission will need to determine if this solar ordinance regulation was adequate or if additional or fewer requirements are needed.

The meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall Council Chambers.


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