City of Madison - Solar & Wind Access and Planning Laws (Wisconsin)

From Open Energy Information

Last modified on February 12, 2015.

Rules Regulations Policies Program

Place Wisconsin
Name City of Madison - Solar and Wind Access and Planning Laws
Incentive Type Solar/Wind Access Policy
Applicable Sector Construction
Eligible Technologies Passive Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaics, Small Wind, Solar Space Heat, Solar Water Heat, Wind
Active Incentive Yes
Implementing Sector Local
Energy Category Renewable Energy Incentive Programs

Date added to DSIRE 2000-01-01
Last DSIRE Review 2012-11-14

References DSIRE[1]


Madison, Wisconsin, has established several local laws to facilitate the planning and permitting of solar and wind systems. The planning guidelines are specific to solar, while the permitting laws and procedures include wind as well.

Planning To facilitate solar access, Madison’s land subdivision regulations require streets to be "oriented in an east-west direction to the maximum extent possible or to within 20 degrees of such orientation." There are some exceptions based on topography, property size and shape, existing street patterns, and other considerations. In addition, subdivision lots should be oriented to maximize solar access for the buildings on them, and open space lots within subdivisions should be placed "where the location of open space lands provide greater achievement of solar access objectives and requirements of the entire subdivision." Finally, "the installation of trees shall take into account solar access as to minimize future shading of the most southerly side of contemplated building locations."

Solar and Wind Access In Wisconsin, a state solar and wind access law defines how local governments are permitted to regulate solar and wind energy systems. In 2008 the city of Madison adopted revisions (Ordinance No. 08-00122) to their existing zoning ordinance in order to bring them in line with state law. The revised ordinance permits solar and wind energy systems as accessory uses in all zoning districts with approval of the Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development. The ordinance also contains additional language describing some details of the approval process, planning requirements, and setbacks for wind energy systems.

The city operates the MadiSUN Program, which includes a goal of doubling the number of solar hot water and solar-electric (PV) systems. Individuals interested in owning a solar energy system can enlist the services of a "solar agent" through this program to help guide them through the process.

Incentive Contact

Contact Name MadiSUN Program
Department City of Madison
Address 215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Place Madison, Wisconsin
Zip/Postal Code 53703
Phone (608) 243-0586


Authorities (Please contact the if there are any file problems.)

Authority 1: Madison Code of Ordinances § 16.23(8)

Authority 2: Madison Code of Ordinances § 28.04(18)
Date Effective 2008-11-22

  • Incentive and policy data are reviewed and approved by the N.C. Solar Center's DSIRE project staff.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1  "Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)"