County Enacts Solar Zoning Amendments
With support from NAPS member, Lee Allain, the Northumberland County Planning Commission recently passed new Solar Zoning Amendments, set to take effect immediately. The Planning Commission began working on the amendments last fall and a final draft was sent to the Board of Supervisors in May 2018. A public hearing was held on June 14 to review the final draft of proposed regulations.
According to County Planner, Stuart McKenzie, “nobody attended the meeting to support or oppose the proposed ordinance” so it was voted into law. As stated in the ordinance, its purpose is to “provide for the siting, development, and decommissioning of solar energy projects in Northumberland County, subject to reasonable conditions that promote and protect the public health, safety and welfare of the community while promoting development of renewable energy resources.” The ordinance covers regulations for small (residential), medium, and utility-scale facilities.
Allain was requested by McKenzie to provide expertise and technical support to the Planning Commission throughout the process of revising the solar ordinance. During the planning cycle, Allain attended the Commission meetings and worked with McKenzie and others to draft regulations in support of solar technology. With his background as an Electrical Engineer and his personal experience in the Solar Energy field, Lee is well qualified to provide assistance. In fact, as part of recent NAPS STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activity, Allain mentored a NAPS Solar Grant to our local high school. Under the Grant, senior math students actually built a 120-watt solar panel that was subsequently used to charge their cell-phones. He has also written articles on solar collection for residences and is well familiar with solar’s application from home use to utility-scale solar farms.
NAPS' Lee Allain demonstrating solar power generation at the 2018 Earth Day Festival in April.