Resident & Developer Solar Resources
If you’re thinking about investing in solar panels on the roof of your home or business, or are considering a larger project, you may have a number of questions. Select from the list below and use the + sign to expand the content.
The “Right to Light” is an interesting discussion. No laws at the federal level protect a landowner’s ability to access sunlight or to develop solar energy on their property. In Connecticut, there are not State laws to this effect either. In fact, there may be a number of legal barriers to ensuring your access to light: municipal zoning or forestry regulations that prevent the cutting down of trees, a height ordinance that rooftop panels would violate, or homeowner’s association rules meant to standardize the appearance of homes. To complicate matters, sometimes the obstruction of sunlight comes from structures or trees on a neighbor’s property. Although Connecticut does not guarantee “solar rights” in the traditional sense, we encourage homeowners to work with their neighbors and their local land use office to come up with creative solutions.
- Federal background: Solar Access Rights | SEIA
- State background: CT Office of Legislative Research Response
- Although the report linked above was published in 2007, CT OLR has verified that the information “is still accurate, though we have not done any research into whether other municipalities in the state have enacted zoning provisions that specifically apply to solar access since then.”
While you don’t need to be an expert in the solar industry to get panels installed, every consumer should know enough information to protect themselves. Online resources on the subject range from a high-level checklists to comprehensive guides. The links below are in order from simplest to most detailed.
- Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s “Solar Panel Buyer’s Guide” infographic: SolarPanelBuyersGuide.pdf (ct.gov)
- Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)’s “Be Solar Smart” consumer checklist: Be Solar Smart Consumer Checklist – Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) (irecusa.org)
- IREC’s “Clean Energy Consumer Bill of Rights”: Bill of Rights – Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) (irecusa.org)
- Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA)’s factsheet: SEIA-Consumer-Protection-Factsheet-2018-August.pdf
- Connecticut Green Bank’s “Resources for State Residents to Navigate Solar Questions” webpage: Resources for State Residents to Navigate Solar Questions – Connecticut Green Bank (ctgreenbank.com)
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)’s solar consumer protection webpage: Solar Consumer Protection | State, Local, and Tribal Governments | NREL
- SEIA’s “Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power”: SEIA-Consumer-Guide-Solar-Power-v4-2018-June.pdf
Financing and incentives can turn your solar dream into a reality. Navigate the links below to calculate your solar savings, browse federal and state incentives, and learn more about financing best practices.
- GoSolarCT’s “A Homeowner’s Guide to Solar Financing”: https://www.gosolarct.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Homeowners-Guide-to-Solar-Financing.pdf
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) – Connecticut: DSIRE (dsireusa.org)
- State Solar Incentives: GoSolarCT > 2. Savvy Solar Shopper > State Solar Incentives
- Federal Solar Incentives: GoSolarCT > 2. Savvy Solar Shopper > Federal Solar Incentives
- Solar Savings Calculator: Calculate Solar Savings (gosolarct.com)
- Energize CT’s Resident Solar Investment Program: Residential Solar Investment Program | Energize Connecticut (energizect.com)
A list of solar PV installers located in one of NVCOG’s member municipalities can be generated from the Energize CT Contractor Database. Select “Home,” “Business,” or “Town,” depending on your needs. Then select “Solar PV Service.” Click “Submit.” The first column in the list will have an address for the company. There are a number options within the NVCOG region.
You can also get quotes from Energy Sage by entering your zip code.
Project Sunroof leverages Google Maps’ GIS technology to help residents across the U.S. calculate potential savings after installing solar panels. The algorithm is based on a number of factors, including:
- Roof orientation and size
- Annual hours of sunlight exposure
- Tree cover
- State and federal incentives
All you need to do is enter your address and provide the average cost of your monthly electric bill! Even if you’re unsure about solar, consider making use of this tool and seeing how much you could save. Click below to get started:
Just as access to unobstructed sunlight impacts the siting of solar projects, so does the land use of the subject and surrounding properties. Some land uses are particularly well-suited to solar. Below are resources to guide the development of solar based on the principal land use of the property.
- People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE): Solar Canopy Parking Lot Capacity Map
- Energy Sage: Solar Parking Canopies Overview
- Science Direct (scholarly article): “The potential for community solar in Connecticut: A geospatial analysis of solar canopy siting on parking lots”
- DesignNews: Design Basics for Solar Parking Lots
Vacant & Underutilized Lots
- SolSmart: Solar Development on Public Facilities and Under-Utilized Land
- SEH Engineering: Factors to Consider Before Turning Empty Land into a Solar Site
- U.S. Department of Energy: Solar and Agriculture Co-Location
- Article on Connecticut “Agrivoltaics”: 2 Connecticut solar farms will also grow crops
- Go Solar Texas: “Putting Underutilized Land to Work for Solar” Webinar
- EPA: RE-Powering America’s Land
- Center for Creative Land Recycling: Solar Power on Brownfields
- CT DEEP: Siting Clean Energy on Brownfields
Airport Safety Zones (with FAA approval)
- FAA: Technical Guidance for Evaluating Selected Solar Technologies on Airports
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL): Implementing Solar Technologies at Airports
- Wired: “Why Not Turn Airports into Giant Solar Farms?”
- International Energy Agency: PV in Nonbuilding Structures
- Designing with Solar Power by Deo Prasad and Mark Snow: Chapter 4: Nonbuilding PV Structures
- Green Tech Media: Solar Bus Shelters
- Sustainable Business: Solar-Covered Bridge, Bike Highway
- Science Direct (scholarly article): Submerged PV Solar Panels for Swimming Pools
- BioEnergy Consult: Benefits of Solar Streetlights
If you are considering a solar project on one of the above-mentioned land uses, contact Christine at 203-489-0351 or email@example.com. We may be able to offer technical assistance or connect you with someone who can.
Are you ready to make the switch to solar? Your first step is to understand how local permitting works for your municipality. Select from the list below and use the + sign to expand the content. Note that the information below applies only to installations less than 1 MW and is for guidance purposes only. We recommend that you always begin by consulting the municipality directly regarding permitting procedures and fees.
For roof-mounted solar, obtain a “Step 1: Department Approvals” form online or a hard copy from Town Hall. You will then fill out the “Step 2: Building Permit (Electrical).” Both are available here.
For ground-mounted panels, perform the same steps – but in the review process, the need for Zoning or Wetlands approvals may be triggered.
For any questions, visit the Building Department webpage or call 203-729-4216.
For roof-mounted solar, a building permit is required (must be acquired in-person at Bethlehem Town Hall).
For ground-mounted, an Inland Wetlands Commission approval and a Torrington Area Health District consultation are needed. Start by calling the Building Department at 203-266-7510 ext. 4.
Before applying for a permit, the first step is to speak with a Zoning Enforcement Officer. They can be reached at 203-271-6670 or in person at the Planning and Development Department. The next step would be to apply for a Zoning Permit.
Derby has merged some of their Building Department functions with Shelton. To speak with an Electrical Inspector who can walk you through the process of obtaining your documents, call 203-924-1555 ext. 1357. The necessary documents will likely include solar plans, HIC, Electrician’s License and Certificate of Liability, an Engineer’s Letters, a six digit number from UI, and finally Building and Electrical applications.
For any questions, call the Derby Building Department at 203-736-1481 or call the Electrical Inspector directly at the number above.
For ground-mounted solar, begin with the Land Use/Planning & Zoning Department to set up the necessary public hearings. Note that ground-mounted solar installations are not allowed on properties with residential dwellings.
For any questions, please call 203-720-7035.
For residential roof-mounted solar, visit Plymouth’s online permit portal to apply for an electrical permit and building permit. This requires a licensed electrician.
For a commercial roof-mounted, you will need a zoning permit in addition to electrical and building (also available on the portal).
For ground-mounted solar, first call the Land Use Department to determine if a a site plan or special permit approval is needed. Then fill out application for public hearing on the portal. After the approval electrical, building, zoning permits will be needed.
For rooftop residential solar panels, – coming soon.
For any questions, call the Building Department at (203) 758-4461.
For rooftop residential or commercial solar, visit the Seymour Building Department in person or online to obtain a Building Permit (which includes electrical). You will also need to submit two sets of plans for commercial, one set for residential; trade licenses (electrician); and liability insurance.
For ground-mounted solar, fill out the above paperwork and contact the Building Department to determine if a zoning permit is necessary.
For any questions, please contact the Building Department or call 203-888-2511.
For rooftop residential or commercial solar, the landowner would contact a solar company to apply on their behalf. That company would submit a Building Permit and Solar Supplement, along with license and insurance information.
Ground-mounted solar should begin by contacting the Planning & Zoning Department at (203) 924-1555 ext. 1510 to understand what approvals are needed.
For any questions, contact the Building Department at (203) 924-1555 ext. 1517.
For residential or commercial rooftop solar projects, fill out and submit a Building Permit. They will also need the contractor license and insurance, and the site plans and specs.
For any questions, call the Thomaston Building Department at (860) 283-2857 or Planning & Zoning Department at (860) 283-8411.
For residential and commercial rooftop solar, you need a Mechanical/Electrical Permit and, if structural upgrades are required, also a Building Permit. Also needed is a copy of contractor license and insurance, along with information about the panels.
For ground-mounted solar, start with all building permits above. Additionally, you would need a Zoning Permit.
For any questions, contact the Department of Inspections at (203) 574-6832.
For roof-mounted and ground-mounted solar, start with the Zoning Department. Fill out a Zoning Permit, available online, and turn it in at Town Hall; note that large ground-mounted projects may require a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing.
Next, the Building Department will require a Building Application, engineered specs, engineered letter regarding the roof’s ability to support the panels, estimated cost, licenses, and insurance information. All documents can be turned in at Town Hall.
Ground-mounted solar may require a Health Department review to ensure there are no structures over septic.
For any questions, contact the Building Department at 860.945.5264.
Note: Watertown may be switching to online permitting soon.
For any questions, contact the Building Department at (203) 879-8100.
For a residential rooftop or ground-mounted solar installation (as an accessory use), you’ll need to fill out a Zoning Permit using Woodbury’s online permitting software.
For questions about additional permits or inspections, contact the Building Department at 203-263-5717.