Below are resources on solar siting on farmland for the state organized by laws, literature and other resources. Some links take you to The Farmland Information Center (FIC)--a clearinghouse for information about farmland protection and stewardship operated in partnership between the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and American Farmland Trust (AFT). There you can search for additional information on solar siting on farmland by state, type of resource and other categories. Connecticut solar resources on FIC
Summary of the solar siting processes and criteria: In 2017, the Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act 17-218, An Act Concerning the Installation of Certain Solar Facilities on Productive Farmlands, Incentives for the Use of Anaerobic Digesters by Agricultural Customer Hosts, Applications Concerning the Use of Kelp in Certain Biofuels and the Permitting of Waste Conversion Facilities. This Act primarily impacts the Siting Council process for solar photovoltaic facilities of greater than 2 megawatts that seek a “declaratory ruling” from the Connecticut Siting Council as opposed to a certificate. Pursuant to Public Act 17-218, such facilities must meet the following requirements:
- The Siting Council must not find a “substantial adverse environmental effect” and
- For facilities that are to be located on prime farmland or forestland (excluding facilities selected by DEEP prior to July 1, 2017), the Department of Agriculture must write to the Council that such projects “will not materially affect the status of such land as prime farmland” and/or the DEEP must write to the Council that such project will not materially affect the status of such land as core forest. Both DOA and DEEP may consult with USDA and soil and water conservation districts to conduct this evaluation.
Proposed facilities may elect to proceed through the certificate proceeding at Siting Council and avoid the requirement of a letter from DOA or DEEP. However the certificate proceeding requires more time and is more costly. The certificate process also requires that Siting Council conduct a more detailed review of the environmental impact of the facility that, since the passage of Public Act 17-218, must include every significant adverse effect on agriculture.
- Core solar siting law: Connecticut Solar Siting Statute (2017) This law establishes siting standards and creates incentives for installing solar facilities in Connecticut. It incorporates recent amendments addressing whether projects require certificates demonstrating environmental compatibility and public need.
- Related for siting on protected agricultural lands: Connecticut PACE Enabling Statutes This statute authorizes Connecticut's state-level Farmland Protection Program.
- Related for definition of prime farmland: Connecticut uses USDA’s definition of prime farmland CFR 65
- Energy Sprawl in Connecticut: Why Farmland and Forests are Being Developed for Electricity Production; Recommendations for Better Siting Special report from Council on Environmental Quality “Energy Sprawl in Connecticut—Why Farmland and Forests are Being Developed for Electricity Production; Recommendations for Better Siting” (2017)
- Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is dedicated to conserving, improving and protecting our natural resources and the environment - and increasing the availability of cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy.
- Overview of Connecticut climate plan's best practices shared as part of U.S. Climate Alliance
CONTACT: Atty Kirsten Rigney, Legal Director, Bureau of Energy Technology and Policy, CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection email@example.com