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Planners consider ordinance for solar

The Glencoe City Planning Commission discussed the addition of a solar ordinance in the city at its Thursday, Nov. 19, meeting.
Currently, Glencoe has nothing to regulate solar power. City Administrator Mark Larson said the city wants to establish regulations because there is concern that panels are not always attractive.
The city currently has two solar panel systems within the city.
Larson provided model ordinances from other cities and the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) as examples to help create Glencoe’s own ordinance. He said the Planning Commission can use these to decide what regulations to include, from setbacks to height and anything else.
Commissioner Greg Ettel asked if the city will have something different for industrial use versus residential use. Larson said that would probably be the case.
Commissioner Lynn Exsted said the city should step back and make only a few regulations so the energy movement can move forward.  
“I don’t want to see us limiting people,” she said. “We should be encouraging solar.”
City Council Member Gary Ziemer asked if those with solar panels are always hooked into the city’s electrical grid. Exsted said there are options.
Larson explained the MMUA would recommend mandating that solar users hook into the city’s system.
Commissioner Ron Knop said it’s not practical not to be hooked in because then the user would have to rely completely on solar without a backup option.
Exsted said she’d like to see common sense regulations but nothing constricting enough to stop growth. Commissioner David Stark agreed with her.
“I don’t think the intent would be to regulate the heck out of it,” he said. “You want to foster the new technology.”

For more, see the Nov. 25 print edition of The Chronicle.