WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — West Des Moines is drafting its first ordinance regarding solar panel installation at homes and businesses.

The Des Moines Register reports that the ordinance would dictate where the panels could be located and could require screening to shield their view from neighboring properties.

The issue arose last year when resident Scott Whitney approached the city about installing a solar energy system at his home. City officials told him he would have to wait because the city code didn’t cover social panel installation and use.

scott-whitney-solar-panels

West Des Moines would be one of the first Iowa cities to create rules governing solar panels, and the decisions could eventually affect other cities that follow its lead.

A draft proposal has few limitations for rooftop panels, but rules governing backyard units are more restrictive.

The city would require ground units to be building material similar to the home in order to block their view from neighboring properties and the street. It would also restrict their height to 7 feet.

The requirements would add costs to an already expensive process that could make the difference for people considering adding solar panels.

“This is something new that will take time to get used to,” Whitney said. “But I think the value of it needs to be considered in parallel with the aesthetic value. We have plans to make them look good, but they’re giant black panels. Whether they’re on the ground or on the roof, they’ll be noticeable.”

Nathaniel Baer, energy program director for the Iowa Environmental Council, said solar energy is on the verge of statewide adoption and that it’s encouraging to see West Des Moines address the issue.

But he said new rules could turn away some people interested in installing panels.

“There’s opportunities across the entire state,” he said. “This is one issue that is of real concern, if communities adopt ordinances that dampen the adoption of solar.”

___

Information from: The Des Moines Register, desmoinesregister.com

Experts worry W.D.M. solar proposal too limiting

New rules for solar panels being considered in West Des Moines could limit expansion of clean energy in the community, according to green energy advocates.

The city is drafting its first ordinance covering the installation of solar panels at homes and businesses. It would dictate where the panels could be located and require screening to shield their view from neighboring properties.

West Des Moines would be one of the first cities in the state to create rules governing solar panels. The decisions it makes could have ramifications elsewhere if other cities decide to follow its lead.

A resident’s plan
Scott Whitney approached the city last year about installing a solar energy system at his West Des Moines home.

His goal is to offset 80 percent of his electricity costs — a savings of about $1,000 a year on his energy bill.

But he was told by city officials that he would have to wait. West Des Moines did not have any rules in the city code covering the installation and use of solar panels.

Since Whitney’s request the city has been working on an ordinance.

A draft proposal reviewed by the Register has few limitations for rooftop panels, but rules governing backyard units — like the one Whitney hopes to install — are more restrictive.

The city would require ground units to be wrapped in a building material similar to the home to block their view from the street and neighboring properties.

The screening requirements would add costs to an already expensive process that could make the difference for some people considering adding solar panels.

Whitney’s system would cost approximately $25,000. He planned to add shade-tolerant plants and flowers around the panels in his yard.

“This is something new that will take time to get used to. But I think the value of it needs to be considered in parallel with the aesthetic value,” Whitney said. “We have plans to make them look good, but they’re giant black panels. Whether they’re on the ground or on the roof they’ll be noticeable.”

He said the city’s delays have cost him about $750, and if the panels aren’t installed this year, he could lose out on $11,000 in tax credits.

 

 

Related:

Tagged on: