On January 20, 2022, the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) announced its partnership with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) to develop a model solar ordinance for Louisiana communities. Over the next nine months, CPEX and the LDNR aim to develop guidelines to provide regulations for solar investment planning for both individual cities and parishes as a whole.
Model solar ordinances are developed to guide local governments in the decision-making process for developing renewable energy in their communities. Instead of attempting to implement a universal “one size fits all” solution, model ordinances provide local jurisdictions with a “toolkit of regulations” that can be modified and tailored to specific needs of the region.
The partnership between CPEX and the LDNR comes on the heels of Act 301 (Senate Bill 185), which the Louisiana legislature passed in June 2021 to amend and reenact La. R.S. 30:1154, calling for the LDNR to draft regulations for implementing solar lease programs and to identify a funding source for its staff to oversee the program.
Along with input from a committee of representatives from local government, energy, agriculture, housing, land-owners associations, environmental, economic development, and equity groups, CPEX’s goal for the model solar ordinance is to provide regulations for solar energy investment planning as a guide for Louisiana communities through a free, online resource for policy language on residential, community, and utility-scale solar installations. Once the model ordinance is developed, CPEX will choose two local governments to assist in developing and utilizing the model ordinance toolkit in their own jurisdictions.
While solar power continues to be the fastest growing energy source in both Louisiana and the United States, the utility-scale solar industry faced mixed responses from individual parishes in Louisiana. Pointe Coupee Parish welcomed the $533 million Lightsource bp solar farm, heralded as the largest solar farm in Louisiana to date. In contrast, the Washington Parish Council passed, and since extended four times, a moratorium on developing industrial solar in Washington Parish until local industrial solar ordinances are developed and implemented.
The development of a model solar ordinance toolkit over the next nine months offers an opportunity for Louisiana to beneficially invest in renewable energy, while satisfying the individual needs and concerns of local regions and parishes. The partnership with CPEX and the LDNR evidences the first steps in Louisiana’s foray into regulating this relatively new industry and should provide helpful guidance in protecting the interests of Louisiana’s communities and mitigating potential negative effects that solar installations can pose. As the need for alternative energy sources grows, it appears CPEX and the LDNR are providing the foundation for a brighter future here in Louisiana.