SWVA Local Government Resources


Solar Zoning Ordinances

Solar zoning ordinances play a crucial role in facilitating the growth of solar energy, ensuring safety and compliance, promoting sustainable development, and fostering positive relationships between localities and solar companies.

Example Solar Zoning Ordinances:

Solar zoning ordinance considerations:

  • Engage solar companies active in your county early and often. This will ensure ordinances protect your community while welcoming solar development and avoiding unintended barriers. 
  • Ordinances restricting acreage, number of developments, and project density can cause significant barriers. If you decide to include these restrictions, make sure they are reasonable and consider the geographic area. Mountainous areas naturally have fewer feasible solar sites.
  • Avoid excessive setbacks. Increased project setbacks increase costs and may reduce site feasibility. A 50-100 ft setback is usually reasonable. Some sites may have unique circumstances that require larger setbacks. 

Solar Finance and Tax Ordinances

Tax ordinances may also play a key role in fostering solar development within localities by providing financial incentives and strengthening economic benefits.

Ordinances to consider:

  • C-PACE – Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy is an innovative clean energy financing tool that provides 100% upfront capital to property owners who want to upgrade their buildings with energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water management systems. Virginia even has the Virginia PACE Authority to help localities and provide ordinance templates to adopt the tool. Learn more and get started here!
  • Solar Revenue sharing – Learn about solar revenue sharing options on the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service’s here. Project size, economic viability, and other factors impact whether or not revenue sharing may or may not be an appropriate option for localities depending on project size, economic viability, and other factors. Check out the Soltax Tool to help assess revenue-sharing potential. 

Other Considerations

Solar App+ – Solar App+ is an automated residential rooftop solar permitting system that is free for building officials across the county. This program will greatly reduce the capacity needed for building officials to review qualifying permits in their region. Get started with Solar App+ here!

SolSmart –  SolSmart is a free national program led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). It is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The Virginia Department of Energy and UVA launched Virginia SolSmart as a no-cost technical partner program with support from The Solar Foundation to bring solar-specific resources and technical assistance to localities across Virginia.

If you have any questions about a new or updated solar ordinance, reach out to Austin at austin@appvoices.org

County Resources for Developers

Dickenson County:

Lee County:


Russell County:

Scott County:

St. Paul:

Tazewell County:

Wise County:

Check out this video from the SolSmart program highlighting SWVA local governments’ work to help bring solar energy to the region!