Model Ordinance for Renewable Energy Projects

August 11, 2023


NOTE: This model ordinance was designed to provide guidance to local governments that wish to develop their own siting rules for renewable energy projects. While it was developed by the Oregon Department of Energy, the model itself has no legal or regulatory authority.

The Oregon Department of Energy issued guidance to local governments to address wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and co-generation project planning needs at the city and county level in July 2005. The Model Ordinance describes energy projects and siting issues and includes model ordinance language and commentary. Energy projects below certain thresholds are not regulated by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council, so the model ordinance can serve as a basis for local regulation of these energy projects. The model language provides a conceptual framework that local governments can adapt to suit local circumstances and to address local energy resources.

The model ordinance not only includes general standards for all energy projects, but also details specific standards for different technologies. Specific standards for wind address visual impact, wildlife resources, public safety, and setbacks. The model ordinance is intended to apply to commercial wind projects; residential or agricultural projects under 50 kilowatts (kW) in size are exempt. Specific standards for solar address acreage, ground leveling, wildlife resources, misdirection of solar radiation, public safety, airport proximity, and cleaning chemicals and solvents. The model ordinance is intended to apply to large-scale solar electric projects that generate electricity for structures located off-site. It should be noted that the specific setback and clearance distances in the model ordinance are meant to be suggestions only; they illustrate the concept, but are not formal recommendations or standards.

The model ordinance also includes guidance on electric power transmission and distribution lines, natural gas and petroleum pipelines, and biofuel production plants.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: State
Category: Regulatory Policy
State: Oregon
Incentive Type: Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Web Site:
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Geothermal Electric
  • Solar Thermal Electric
  • Solar Photovoltaics
  • Wind (All)
  • Biomass
  • Combined Heat & Power
  • Wind (Small)
  • Anaerobic Digestion


Name: Model Ordinance for Energy Projects
Date Enacted: 2005


Name: Assistant Director, Energy Siting, Todd Cornett
Organization: Oregon Department of Energy
Phone: (503) 428-2962

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.