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Solar Regulations and Permitting

Solar Regulations and Permitting
Choose a state from the map below to explore federal and state regulations and permitting processes that apply to solar projects. Or compare regulatory and permitting requirements in different states by selecting a topic and up to 4 jurisdictions at the bottom of the page. Users can also browse an overview of federal regulations that apply to all states.

Choose a State to Explore

Only Federal Regulations Available
Federal & State Regulations Available

Compare Solar Regulations and Permitting Across States

Compare aspects of the permitting process among states.

Choose up to 4 Jurisdictions

Please select at least two jurisdictions

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Solar Land Use Comparison

Topic to Compare

Federal Land Use %
State Land Use %
Tribal Land Use %
Private Land Use %
Solar Land Access Comparison

Topic to Compare

Leasing Agency
Competitive Land Leasing
Noncompetitve Land Leasing
Royalty Rate Competitive Land Lease
Royalty Rate Noncompetitive Land Lease
Royalty Rate Calculation Basis
Royalty Distribution
MassachusettsX
NevadaX
Yes, public auction for leasing state lands.
Yes, for Right of Ways over state land.
New HampshireX
North CarolinaX
North DakotaX
PennsylvaniaX
Rhode IslandX
South CarolinaX
South DakotaX
West VirginiaX
Solar Power Plant Siting & Construction Comparison

Topic to Compare

Power Plant Siting
Power Plant Siting Agency
Power Plant Siting MW Threshold
Definition for Public Utility
Coordinating Permit Offices
Coordinating Permit Process
Coordinating Permit Offices MW Threshold
Coordinating Permit Offices Agency
Agencies Coordinating
Public Utility Regulatory Authority
Public Utility Regulatory Authority Certification MW Threshold
Public Utility Definition for Power Generator
CaliforniaX
Developers must obtain licensing from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for construction of a thermal power plant with a net generating capacity of 50 MW or more and all related facilities dedicated or essential to the operation of the thermal power plant (e.g., transmission lines to first point of interconnection with the transmission grid, gas pipelines, water lines, access roads, etc.). The CEC may delegate siting authority over geothermal power plants and related facilities to county governments which have adopted geothermal elements into their general plants. The county must demonstrate a capability to expeditiously process applications, and their policies must be consistent with CEC’s policies for the development of geothermal resources. Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 25540.5.
California Energy Commission
50 MW net generating capacity
“Public utilities” includes an “electric corporation…where the service is performed for, or commodity is delivered to, the public or any portion thereof.” Cal. Pub. Util. Code § 216. An “electric corporation” includes “every corporation or person owning, controlling, operating, or managing any electric plant for compensation within this state, except where electricity is generated on or distributed by the producer through private property solely for its own use or the use of its tenants and not for sale or transmission to others.” Cal. Pub. Util. Code § 218.
California Public Utilities Commission
MassachusettsX
NevadaX
Nevada Public Utilities Commission
The term “public utility” includes “any plant or equipment, or any part of a plant or equipment, within this State for the production, delivery or furnishing for or to other persons, including private or municipal corporations, heat, gas, coal slurry, light, power in any form or by an agency, water for business, manufacturing, agricultural or household use, or sewerage service, whether or not within the limits of municipalities.” See NRS 704.020(2)(a).
Nevada Public Utilities Commission
The term “public utility” includes “any plant or equipment, or any part of a plant or equipment, within this State for the production, delivery or furnishing for or to other persons, including private or municipal corporations, heat, gas, coal slurry, light, power in any form or by an agency, water for business, manufacturing, agricultural or household use, or sewerage service, whether or not within the limits of municipalities.” See NRS 704.020(2)(a).
New HampshireX
North CarolinaX
North DakotaX
PennsylvaniaX
Rhode IslandX
South CarolinaX
South DakotaX
West VirginiaX
Solar Transmission Comparison

Topic to Compare

Transmission Siting Agency
Transmission Siting
Transmission Siting Threshold
Public Utility Definition for Transmission Facility
Public Utility Regulatory Authority Certification Transmission Threshold
CaliforniaX
California Public Utilities Commission, California Energy Commission
In California, transmission lines set to operate with a voltage between 50 kV and 200 kV must obtain a permit to construct from the CPUC unless it qualifies for an exemption. Transmission lines set to operate with a voltage higher than 200 kV must obtain a CPCN from the CPUC. Transmission lines with a voltage under 50 kV require the developer to comply with local requirements. In addition, generation interconnection lines for power plants under the jurisdiction of the California Energy Commission (CEC) are sited as part of the CEC's power plant siting process.
Transmission lines over 50 kV.
In California, transmission facilities are covered by the definition of 'public utility.' A "public utility" includes every common carrier, toll bridge corporation, pipeline corporation, gas corporation, electrical corporation, telephone corporation, telegraph corporation, water corporation, sewer system corporation, and heat corporation, where the service is performed for, or the commodity is delivered to, the public or any portion thereof. A 'transmission line' has a voltage over 200 kV. A 'power line' has a voltage between 50 and 200 kV. A 'distribution line' has a voltage under 50 kV.
Transmission lines must be 50 kV or greater.
NevadaX
Public Utilities Commission of Nevada
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
The term “public utility” includes “any plant or equipment, or any part of a plant or equipment, within this State for the production, delivery or furnishing for or to other persons, including private or municipal corporations, heat, gas, coal slurry, light, power in any form or by any agency, water for business, manufacturing, agricultural or household use, or sewerage service, whether or not within the limits of municipalities.” NRS 704.020(2)(a).
North CarolinaX
South CarolinaX
Solar Environmental Review Comparison

Topic to Compare

Environmental Review Process
Environmental Review Process Agency
Environmental Review (Leasing Stage)
Environmental Review (Non-invasive Exploration)
Environmental Review (Invasive Exploration)
Environmental Review (Drilling)
Environmental Review (Power Plant Siting)
CaliforniaX
Developers must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when undergoing projects in California. Power plants over 50 MW are subject to the California Energy Commission siting process in lieu of the CEQA process.
California Department of Conservation
The California Energy Commission or a designated local county will conduct an environmental review process that replaces the California Environmental Policy Act process for power plants with a net generating capacity of over 50 MW.
FederalX
United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Energy, United States Department of Defense
Typically an Environmental Assessment (EA) is conducted for individual leases or rights-of-way. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) may be required for programmatic environmental reviews or when reviewing multiple lease parcels or rights-of-way in a single review.
MassachusettsX
NevadaX
Nevada Utility Environmental Protection Act
Nevada Division of Environmental Protection
Nevada Utility Environmental Protection Act review process for renewable energy facilities over 70 MW and transmission lines of at least 200 kV.
New HampshireX
North CarolinaX
North DakotaX
PennsylvaniaX
Rhode IslandX
South CarolinaX
South DakotaX
West VirginiaX
Solar Water Access & Rights Comparison

Topic to Compare

Water Right Agency
Water Right Classification
Geothermal Right Classification
Is a Water Right Required to Pump Geothermal Fluids?
CaliforniaX
California State Water Resources Control Board
Hybrid of Prior Appropriation and Riparian Right
NevadaX
Nevada Division of Water Resources
Prior appropriation
North CarolinaX
South CarolinaX