What Permits Do I Need to Start a Solar Farm in the United States?

Nomad

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2023
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Harvesting solar energy is a profitable business, you can start a solar farm, generate electricity, and make money by selling solar energy. However, starting a solar farm in the United States requires getting multiple permits from the federal, state, and local governments, and the permitting process can be complex and time-consuming. Here are some common permits and considerations you will have to follow:

Federal Permits:

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), you might need EIA if your solar farm is very large.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Approval: You need FAA approval if your solar farm is near an airport.

State Permits:

Utility Regulations: If you plan to connect your solar farm to the electricity grid, you will have to follow regulations from your state's public utility commission.
Environmental Permits: You also need permits related to land use, water resources, and wildlife protection.

Local Permits:

As far as local permits are concerned, you might need the following permits
  • Zoning and Land Use Permits
  • Building Permits
  • Electrical Permits
  • Environmental Review
  • Grid Interconnection Approval
  • Stormwater and Erosion Control
  • Land Lease and Easements
  • Public Safety and Health Permits
  • Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) Certification
 
Location
United States
Yes, no doubt, solar farming is a highly profitable and in-demand business. Almost every industry could benefit from their services.

To start your solar farm business in the United States, you have to get the relevant permits. You need to fulfill some legal requirements before starting your business. And for that reason, you need to consult with and hire a lawyer to get your business registered.
 
I wonder how long the process takes for these types of permits to be granted? Especially if the farm is somewhat large. Do you think that the townspeople might also have a say in whether they want it on the lands surrounding their homes? Solar farms are not particulary attractive.
 
I wonder how long the process takes for these types of permits to be granted? Especially if the farm is somewhat large. Do you think that the townspeople might also have a say in whether they want it on the lands surrounding their homes?

Good questions! Like any other large infrastructure/development project, permitting for solar facilities can require multiple environmental reviews that take several years to complete. For example, the Gemini Solar Project, which is proposed on 7,100 acres of BLM land in Nevada, recently finished up environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Endangered Species Act. These reviews took several years to complete, with the NEPA process requiring preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement and engagement with stakeholders through public meetings and a comment period.

Solar farms are not particulary attractive.

For the Gemini Solar Project, which would be located on the Moapa River Indian Reservation, there was concern over the project’s visual impact on an historic railroad camp and the Old Spanish National Historic Trail. These represent impacts on historic properties that are protected under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The responsible federal agency (BLM in this case) had to consult with tribes as well as Nevada's State Historic Preservation Office to fully assess the extent of impacts and determine appropriate mitigation measures. This process can take years if there are large adverse effects that need to be evaluated and resolved.
 

For further information on this GPT, visit the U.S. National/Federal GPT page.

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