Solar Development

Since 2019, the Maine State Legislature has passed several laws encouraging and shaping the development of large-scale solar arrays, with the intent of reducing the state’s reliance on nonrenewable energy and fossil fuels. While residential and individual solar power generation has been legal for some time, these laws have introduced a new type of development, one which many municipalities are not prepared to plan and regulate.


Pros and Cons

Very few communities have ordinances which address solar specifically, and some are able to regulate the use under a more general use type, such as utilities. However, communities with limited to no zoning have little control over this development, and may be taken by surprise with new proposals.


Commercial large-scale solar arrays, for the purpose of generating solar energy for purchase and contribution to the power grid, have several benefits for communities and the state.

  • They are a needed technology to transition our society to one that is more dependent on electricity, specifically electricity generated in renewable ways.
  • Like most large commercial development, they also have the potential for substantial tax revenue for municipal budgets.


At the same time, many Maine communities feel that ground-mounted solar arrays, as is, are contradictory to their scenic and rural character.

  • There are some concerns such as stormwater runoff, clear cutting, and decommissioning which communities may take into consideration.


What to Do?



Several communities statewide, and some in our region, have enacted moratoriums to temporarily ban development of solar arrays while the community takes steps to ensure that their zoning ordinance has provisions for where the use is allowed, and what performance standards must be met to allow development. The Maine Town and City Magazine interviewed several communities who have taken this route in a recent publication.


Ordinance Updates

SMPDC has developed a solar ordinance for the Town of Waterboro and recently drafted an ordinance for the Town of Lovell who has enacted a Moratorium due to a large-scale solar project of over 200 acres. We can share these ordinances with you if you have an interest in optional models.

There are also several online resources which include model ordinances, and considerations for performance standards: