November 29, 2022

Volume XII, Number 333


November 28, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

LUPC Proposes Amendments to Solar Facility Permitting Rules

In response to increased solar development in Maine, the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) is proposing amendments to its rules regulating the permitting of solar energy generation facilities. With these proposed amendments, the LUPC hopes to ease the permitting of solar projects in the state, and specifically in Maine’s unorganized territories.

The LUPC serves as the planning and zoning authority for townships that have chosen not to administer land use controls at the local level or do not have local government.

The proposed amendments create four size classes of solar energy generation facilities:

  1. Accessory: A freestanding solar energy system that generates electricity or heat that is used on-site, and which has a project area of 750 square feet or less.

  2. Small-scale: A solar energy system that generates electricity or heat that is used on-site, and which has a project area of more than 750 square feet but not more than one acre.

  3. Mid-scale: A solar energy system that generates electricity that is either used on-site or commercially sold to be used off-site, and which has a project area of more than one acre but not more than 10 acres.

  4. Grid-scale: A solar energy system that generates electricity primarily or solely for commercial sale for off-site use, and has a project area of more than 10 acres.

The proposed amendments also identify six land use districts (referred to as “sub-districts”) where a small-scale, mid-scale, and/or grid-scale solar energy generation project would be permitted. The current rules allow the permitting only of large, grid-scale size solar projects, and only in two sub-districts.

Although the proposed amendments are an important move toward streamlining solar project permitting, the amendments are still quite conservative and favor solar projects designed for small-scale use. The proposed amendments will allow larger, commercial solar projects in only three sub-districts, a small fraction of the LUPC’s 32 land use sub-districts.

Interested stakeholders may submit comments on the proposed rule until October 23, 2022. 

©2022 Pierce Atwood LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 277

About this Author

Matthew D. Manahan, Pierce Atwood LLP, Environmental lawyer

Since 1989 Matt Manahan has worked closely with businesses to find innovative solutions to the environmental law issues they face. He provides strategic counsel in regulatory, legislative, and judicial proceedings involving a broad range of environmental and land use issues, including those relating to energy project development, transfer and development of contaminated property, water use, energy, and Native American regulatory claims.

Matt is adept at stakeholder negotiations, including with state and federal regulators, that are a necessary part of large...

(207) 791-1189
Lisa Gilbreath, Pierce Atwood, Environmental lawyer

Lisa Gilbreath is an associate in the Environmental & Land Use and Energy Infrastructure Development, Acquisition & Financing practice groups. Lisa works on a wide variety of environmental and energy matters, offering clients strategic advice in regulatory, legislative, and judicial proceedings.

In her environmental practice, Lisa assists clients with numerous issues including energy project development permitting, energy and environmental litigation, air quality legislative and regulatory activities, air quality enforcement, hazardous substances and...

(207) 791-1397
Brian M. Rayback, Pierce Atwood, environmental regulatory lawyer

Brian Rayback focuses his practice on environmental and land use law, with expertise in all aspects of water, air, natural resources, solid waste, and zoning regulation.

Brian provides cost-effective, strategic advice on project permitting, enforcement matters, appeals of agency decisions, regulatory compliance, and legislative issues for property developers and owners, trade associations, utilities, construction companies, and industrial and manufacturing facilities. He regularly appears before federal, state, and local boards and agencies to assist clients in...

(207) 791-1188
Georgia M. Bolduc Environmental Attorney Pierce Atwood Portland, ME

Georgia Bolduc is an associate in the Environmental Practice Group, where she specializes in a broad array of environmental issues, including due diligence and permitting of renewable energy projects (particularly in the solar space), hazardous and solid waste management, air emissions, wastewater discharges, natural resource issues, and zoning law.

Georgia is a recent graduate of Boston University School of Law, where she was a member of the International Law Journal, secretary of the Energy and Environmental Law Society, and pioneered...