Community Spotlight: InYO County, CA
Solsmart Designation: BRonze
Inyo County received the Bronze designation for removing obstacles to solar energy development, including creating an online permitting checklist, reviewing local zoning codes, and for allowing solar by-right accessory use in all major zones.
SUCCESSFUL PROGRAMS DISPLAYING SOLAR LEADERSHIP
Inyo County has been a leader in renewable energy planning in California. Inyo County’s award-winning Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment identifies Solar Energy Development Areas where large-scale solar energy facilities may be sited, based on site-specific studies and environmental review. The county prepared an Environmental Impact Report to evaluate overall environmental consequences of the amendment, which streamlines future permitting within the Solar Energy Development Areas. The county reports that a public process was key in developing a plan that had public support, and no lawsuits were filed to challenge the project.
Using the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative's Solar Roadmap, Inyo County deployed a program to encourage small solar energy systems and energy efficiency for local residents and businesses. The county developed an expedited permitting process for small-scale solar energy systems and instituted a small-scale solar-friendly zoning ordinance. In cooperation with Southern California Edison, the county updated its General Plan to incorporate energy efficiency goals, policies, and implementation measures.
Looking toward the future
Looking toward the future, Inyo County hopes to further encourage building a network of local contractors to develop small-scale solar and energy efficiency projects. The county is strategizing to work with the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to better incentivize small-scale solar and energy efficiency in the Owens Valley.