Increasing the availability of renewable energy is key to reducing harmful carbon pollution. But before building a large-scale solar or wind project, developers may need approvals from multiple levels of government. These reviews may consider project aesthetics, economics, land use and effects on water quality and wildlife habitat.

To simplify the complex web of regulations, a research team from the Regulatory Assistance Project and Clean Air Task Force — with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Consensus Building Institute — created an inventory of renewable energy siting and permitting policies in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. This report, by RAP authors Shawn Enterline and Andrew Valainis, synthesizes that research.

The report includes summary material and findings as well as individual profiles for each state. It also has a companion interactive map.

The research identifies:

  • The entities within each state or territory that make siting and permitting decisions.
  • The level of government that has the authority to set standards for large-scale renewables siting and construction.
  • The presence of siting and permitting timelines.
  • Public involvement requirements.
  • The availability of permitting guides and model ordinances to support local jurisdictional decision-making.

One finding in the report is that a majority of states (37) give local governments the authority to set siting standards such as turbine tip heights and setbacks. Beyond that, the research confirms that state approaches to siting and permitting can vary widely and are often difficult to categorize.