County Land-Use Regulations for Solar Energy Development in Colorado

Allison Jackson, Kate Doubleday, Brittany Staie, Allison Perna, Mariel Sabraw, Liz Voss, Apolonia Alvarez, Byron Kominek, Jordan Macknick

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


We present a survey of county-level policies on ground-mounted solar development across Colorado, including both solar-specific ordinances as well as general land-use code that might be applicable in counties without solar-specific policies. This report provides an accessible reference for stakeholders interested in identifying counties with particular regulations or in analyzing the diversity of regulations across Colorado. We defined a set of search criteria to find information on solar definitions and classifications, permitting processes, and use-specific requirements requirements in each of Colorado's 64 counties. With those criteria, we reviewed relevant ordinances, land-use code, and comprehensive and master plans. If any uncertainties were identified, we contacted county officials for clarification. The findings are categorized and mapped to illustrate the distribution of key policies adopted across Colorado's counties on the following topics: solar definitions, solar siting policy documentation, categorization of PV systems for permitting, 1041 permitting, solar on agricultural land, panel height restrictions, fencing requirements, vegetation management, visual impacts, decommissioning plans, and financial assurance for decommissioning. Additionally, we identify and discuss policies that might impact the deployment of agrivoltaics, a dual land use combining both agriculture and solar on the same land, which might not fit neatly in existing zoning definitions and solar-specific regulations.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages85
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-88556


  • agrivoltaics
  • Colorado
  • county
  • land use
  • permitting
  • solar
  • zoning


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