South Burlington proposes solar requirement on new constructions

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - South Burlington is shining a spotlight on solar as officials look to make more major changes to their land development regulations. As development across South Burlington continues, the focus on building sustainably remains center stage.

The most recent proposal is to require solar on most new construction. “At least 70% of a rooftop area needs to be able to carry solar,” said City Planner Paul Conner.

With that, that they’ll need to purchase panels, but it doesn’t mean they need to be connected to a grid. Conner adds solar usage in the city is underutilized. “There’s a lot of room for rooftop solar on new buildings, existing buildings, parking lots, there’s a lot of room to grow in.”

This proposal will be before city councilors for the first time on Monday night to start the public process. Council Chair Helen Riehle says they’ll carefully consider the proposal, but it seems like a good idea.

“It provides some opportunity to make the case it’s just not affordable, or [if] the systems too small or its too big,” she explained.

Other land use changes the city has made to keep in line with their climate goals include restrictions to building in forested areas and regulations requiring carbon-free heating and water systems in new construction. “This is a complimentary action at looking at our need to generate power,” Conner said regarding the solar proposal.

The city’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by at least 2050. “Climate change is not something you can say ‘well yeah, we can’t do anything,’ it’s so long off, it’s really here,” Riehle said.

There will be a public hearing on the proposed solar requirement on June 5th.