Programming: Utility-Scale & Distributed Energy Distributed Energy
Maricopa County recognizes the national importance of building a renewable energy portfolio and the opportunities for solar energy development present within our region. To facilitate this development, Maricopa County created 2 programs related to solar energy: Utility-Scale and Distributed Energy Distributed Energy. Distributed Energy is itself separated into Residential and Commercial.
For purposes of administering the Maricopa County Zoning Ordinance (MCZO) and other regulatory documents, Maricopa County defines "utility-scale" as "an electrical generating system whereby electricity is allowed to enter into the electrical utility grid by means other than a bi-directional revenue meter." A typical power plant where the electricity that is generated at the facility is stepped up through a series of transformers then routed to the electrical transmission grid through a switchyard or switchgear and distributed to a utility company's customers falls into this category. This is compared to "grid-connected," which is defined as "an electrical generating system whereby electricity is allowed to enter into the electrical utility grid solely through a bi-directional revenue meter," or "off-grid," which is defined as "an electrical generating system whereby electricity is not allowed to enter into the electrical utility grid by any means." Residential rooftop solar will fall into the grid-connected or off-grid category.
Essentially, it is the relationship between the energy production source and the utility customer's service connection that is the distinction. If the energy is being produced commercially on the "line" side of the utility customer's electrical meter, it is considered utility-scale. If the energy is produced on the "load" side of the utility customer's electrical meter, it is considered grid-connected. Similarly, if the primary use of the property is the production of electrical power, then a Special Use Permit or IND-3 zoning is required. If the electricity being generated on site is in support of some other allowed primary use also located on site, then it is considered an accessory use and is allowed by-right in all zoning districts.
Solar Energy Contact
We hope you find this information beneficial. For more information regarding solar energy in unincorporated Maricopa County, please contact Darren Gerard, AICP, Planning Division Manager, at 602-506-7139 or via email.