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Birmingham eases home solar standards

By Kevin Elliott

Birmingham homeowners will have an easier time going solar, as the city commission on Monday, July 26, eased some requirements for residential solar electric systems.

“Solar panels have been permitted in the city since 2009,” said Birmingham City Planner Nicholas Dupuis. “We wrote our initial technology when the technology was a little new, so we were careful, naturally, just to make sure that the aesthetics matched what we want in Birmingham. Ten years later, in 2019, we discussed that evolution.”

Dupuis said one issue to some solar systems may be that front-facing roofs, or those with panels that slant toward the street, require a full design review from the planning board. The planning board and city commission have since been reviewing the city’s solar energy ordinance.

“Substantively, they are not very different, but we did remove the front-facing design review for solar panel arrays, and we also added a couple of new things to update the ordinance,” he said. “There are some new technologies for energy storage, batteries, Tesla power walls, and other brands, and potentially solar shingles, as well.”

Commissioner Clinton Baller said it’s likely the extra requirements had inhibited some residents from moving to solar systems.

The ordinance amendments were unanimously approved by commissioners.


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