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Linn County Approves Updated Utility-Scale Solar Projects Ordinance

The Linn County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved an updated ordinance for utility-scale solar projects.

The approval comes after the County’s third and final reading of the ordinance. 

Some of the changes in the updated ordinance include:

  • Minimum required panel height of 24 inches to encourage the establishment of diverse, native vegetation.
  • Minimum setbacks for solar panels of 300 feet to occupied dwellings, and minimum setbacks for battery energy storage systems of 200 feet from property lines.
  • Required vegetative screening for all dwellings within 1000 feet of solar project boundaries.
  • New decommissioning plan requirements, including hazardous material testing and a requirement to recalculate decommissioning costs every five years.
  • Noise limitations for solar and battery energy storage projects.
  • Agricultural Impact Mitigation Plan and Vegetation Management Plan submittal requirements.
  • Requiring the applicant to receive a minimum passing score on the utility-scale solar scorecard.

The updated ordinance comes nearly a year after the Linn County Board of Supervisors placed a moratorium on accepting utility-scale solar applications. The moratorium was placed to allow time for Planning & Development staff to create Renewable Energy Committees to help closely examine and analyze Linn County’s renewable energy standards – taking lessons learned from the two utility-scale solar rezoning applications approved by the County in 2022. 

The current solar moratorium is set to expire Sept. 30th. All current solar site applications passed with a 2-1 vote.

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