Solar Power in Pine County

Planning and Zoning

Getting Started with Solar – Pine County
Solar Landing Page 

Pine County is committed to supporting solar energy systems and technology. As part of that commitment, the County has assembled information on solar power as it relates to planning, permitting, and education.  This information is provided to earn SolSmart recognition for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for community members to go solar. 

About Solar Energy
Solar energy can be used to generate electricity, to provide hot water, and to heat, cool, and light buildings.  Minnesota is a great place for solar energy.  Much of the Midwest has the same solar potential as Tallahassee, FL and Houston, TX! Through a combination of utility rebates and new technology, solar electricity continues to become more affordable and a more common part of our energy system. 

Zoning, Permit and Inspection Process
For solar systems in Pine County, the following permit process is required:

  • Pine County requires a building permit in Shoreland and Floodplain locations. If solar systems are not in shoreland or floodplain locations, a building permit is not required.
  • Electrical permits are granted through the State of MN. To apply for an electrical permit online, click here.
  • Inspections occur through a State of Minnesota Inspector, more information can be found on the state webpage . A Solar PV Inspection Checklist for Minnesota can be found at this link. Communities within Pine County that adopt the Minnesota building code should consult this inspection checklist as a best practice.
  • For more information on electrical permitting, contact our state inspectors:
    • Stephen Fischer: 320-279-7580
    • James Kilian: 218-851-9648

Interested in your own solar energy system? 
Wondering if a particular site in Minnesota is good for solar energy? The Minnesota Solar Suitability App  can help. This tool displays the solar potential of every spot in the state of Minnesota. With this data, and the services provided through this application, home and business owners can easily identify the solar potential of their property.  

How can I find a solar developer?  
Minnesota is home to many solar companies. The Clean Energy Project Builder is a great place to find an assortment of clean energy businesses including solar installers, community solar garden developers, energy auditors and more.  Wondering what questions to ask? Check out The State of Minnesota’s list of questions to ask potential renewable energy installers 

What is Pine County doing around solar energy? 
Pine County is participating in SolSmart, a national program that provides free technical assistance with addressing local barriers to solar energy. Through this program, Pine County is working to make it easier for residents and businesses choose solar energy. 

Is Financing Available for Solar Energy Projects? 
Residents interested in installing photovoltaic solar panels (the kind that produce electricity) on their property can access financing through the Center for Energy and Environment. Click here for more information. 

Businesses can finance solar energy projects through a tool called “Property-Assessed Clean Energy”, or PACE, in which energy-saving measures are paid for through property taxes. This can work well even for businesses that rent their space. More information on PACE financing is available here

Interested in Employment in the Clean Energy Sector? 
The MN Clean Energy Job Board is a tool that job seekers can use to find jobs in the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields, and that employers can use to post their latest openings.