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.  South Bend has earned the highest level Gold designation from the U.S. Department of Energy's SolSmart program for being a solar-ready community.

Steps South Bend has 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.

In 2021, 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. South Bend also participated in past Solarize initiatives in 2017 and 2019, similar volunteer-powered group discount programs which assisted property owners in the South Bend area in going solar.

Information about permitting and inspection process for solar installations in South Bend

The Building Department provides Solar Photovoltaic Permit Guidelines and Solar Installer Guidelines for inspections.

Receiving Approval from the 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.

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.

What other approvals may I need

Solar projects in Local Historic Districts require a Certificate of Appropriateness. To apply or find more information about each District’s Standards and Guidelines, visit the Historic Preservation Commission.

Where can I find more information?

Visit the MACOG Solar Energy page for additional resources, including a list of local installers, policies and incentives, consumer resources, a map of solar projects in Indiana, and information on pollinator-friendly solar.