Solar Energy

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Solar Energy

South Bend has taken steps to make it easier, faster, and more affordable for property owners to install solar energy systems. In 2021, South Bend earned the highest level Gold designation from the U.S. Department of Energy's SolSmart program for being a solar-ready community.

How do I go solar in South Bend?

Please visit the Going Solar in South Bend website on the Office of Sustainability’s webpage for a step-by-step outline for how to get solar for your property in South Bend.   

Until February 2022, homeowners, businesses, and others can sign up to participate in a solar co-op with group rates. Learn more about the Northern Indiana Solar Co-op, in partnership with the non-profits Solar United Neighbors and Solarize Indiana.

In 2022, nonprofits and community organizations can apply for the Energy Assistance and Solar Savings Initiative to access solar energy and improve energy efficiency.

What steps has South Bend taken to become solar friendly?

South Bend reviewed and streamlined internal processes, clarified zoning ordinance language, trained firefighters on solar safety, and trained city staff to create a more seamless permitting and inspection process for new solar projects.

The South Bend Common Council issued two resolutions (4578-16, 4650-17) in support of a transition to clean energy. The Historic Preservation Commission passed Resolution 17-03  encouraging building owners in Local Historic Districts to apply for approval of solar installations on a case-by-case basis.

South Bend also participated in past Solarize Indiana initiatives in 2017 and 2019, a volunteer-powered group discount programs which assisted property owners in the South Bend area in going solar.

How does the zoning ordinance apply to solar?

Visit the Zoning webpage for the latest version of the zoning ordinance.  Standards for solar energy systems where there is already a building (i.e. solar as an "accessory use") can be found in Section 21-06.02.  In some zoning districts, solar is allowed as a principle use (i.e. "solar farm") or may be allowed via Special Exception - see Table 21-06A.

For installers: Where can I get more information about permitting and inspection process for solar installations in South Bend?

The Building Department provides an Electrical Permit Application for solar, as well as Solar Photovoltaic Permit Guidelines (helpful for determining which type of review process will be required for your permit) and Solar Installer Guidelines for installers to prepare for inspections.

For installers: What is the process for receiving approval from South Bend’s electric utility?

Grid-tied solar energy systems require approval from the electric utility Indiana Michigan Power prior to installation. Instructions for submitting an Interconnection Application to Indiana Michigan Power through the online platform can be found on their Installing Generating Equipment page.

Where can I find more information?

Visit the Going Solar in South Bend page, Solar Untied Neighbor’s FAQs page, and MACOG Solar Energy page for additional resources.