Image of solar panels.

Planning & Zoning for Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Michigan Local Governments

Michigan’s diverse energy future is set in motion. Utility companies have bold plans to expand solar options and other forms of renewable energy over the next two decades and beyond. The shift in the utility sector from centralized power generation to a higher number of accessory and principal use solar energy systems (SES) means nearly every jurisdiction in Michigan will be approached about a solar installation within the next five years. However, relatively few of Michigan's 1,850 local government jurisdictions are prepared with policy or regulation. The purpose of this training is to help Michigan communities meet the challenge of becoming solar-ready by addressing SES within their planning policies and zoning regulations.

This training is based on the newly-released Planning and Zoning for Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Michigan Local Governments and will explain:
  • The context for solar energy development in Michigan;
  • How various components, scales, and configurations of SES fit into landscape patterns ranging between rural, suburban, and urban;
  • Planning and siting considerations for solar energy systems including colocation with other land uses; and 
  • Sample zoning approaches that attempt to balance the interests of property owners and the community as a whole.
Participants of in-person events will receive a printed version of Planning & Zoning for Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Michigan Local Governments.

This training is part of a series of events planned this spring and summer on planning and zoning for renewable energy. Participants in this solar training will be eligible to also participate in bus tours (June) and more in-depth online workshops (July/August) organized by the Michigan Association of Planning and University of Michigan, in collaboration with MSU Extension. Registration information for those follow-on activities will be emailed to solar training registrants.

The training series is intended for local government elected and appointed officials; Local government staff, consulting planners, and attorneys.

Program Details:
Available training locations, formats, and times include:
Region Date Format/Location
Evening Webinar Thursday, May 12, 6:30 - 8 p.m. Zoom Webinar
Central Upper Peninsula Monday, May 16, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Marquette Charter Township
Community Room
1000 Commerce Dr.
Marquette, MI 49855
NW Lower Michigan Wednesday, May 18, 3 - 5 p.m. Michigan Works!
1209 S. Garfield Ave., Suite C
Traverse City, MI 49686
Southeast Michigan Monday, May 23, 3 - 5 p.m. Macomb County - Verkuilen Building Assembly Room
21885 Dunham Rd.
Clinton Twp, MI 48036
South Central Michigan Tuesday, May 24, 3 - 5 p.m. Jackson County Health Department
1715 Lansing Ave., Room 005
Jackson, MI 49202
West Michigan Tuesday, May 24, 3 - 5 p.m. Mecosta County Services Building
14485 Northland Dr.
Big Rapids, MI 49307
Southwest Michigan Wednesday, May 25, 1 - 3 p.m. Van Buren Intermediate School District
Elberta and Loring Rooms
490 South Paw Paw St.
Lawrence, MI 49064
Mid-Day Webinar Wednesday, June 1, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Zoom Webinar

Continuing Education: Professional planners attending any training will earn 1.5 AICP CM Credits. Master Citizen Planners (MCP) will earn 1.5 hours of continuing education.

Cost: There is no cost to attend the training thanks to a generous grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

  • Wayne Beyea, JD, AICP, Senior Specialist, MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction
  • Harmony Gmazel, AICP, Extension Educator - Government & Community Vitality
  • Charles Gould, Extension Educator - Bioenergy
  • Sarah Mills, PhD, Senior Project Manager, University of Michigan - Graham Sustainability Institute
  • Brad Neumann, AICP, Senior Extension Educator - Government & Community Vitality
  • Mary Reilly, AICP, Extension Educator - Government & Community Vitality
Banner photo by Rob Davis

Registration for Planning & Zoning for Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Michigan Local Governments is open.

Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on May 31, 2022.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For more information, or with any questions, contact Brad Neumann, Senior Extension Educator, at: or 906-315-2661; or Mary Reilly, Extension Educator, at: 231-889-4277 ext. 1 or