ASSESSING STATE POLICIES FOR UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR SITING IN MARYLAND, TEXAS AND FLORIDA THROUGH AN ENERGY JUSTICE LENS: A COMPARATIVE CASE STUDY

Abstract
With the current increased focus on greenhouse gas emissions reductions and recognizing and responding to past inequities, understanding ways to improve existing regulatory frameworks and guidance to be more inclusive becomes increasingly important. This capstone project aims to understand the state of existing utility-scale solar deployment in the U.S., considerations when choosing a specific site for a utility-scale solar installation, and factors that drive public opposition and acceptance of renewable energy installations in their communities through an intensive literature review. Then, a qualitative, case study comparison was conducted of the statutes, regulations and guidance related to utility-scale solar siting in Maryland, Florida, and Texas at the state level. The comparison characterizes the procedural energy justice aspects of each state’s processes and differences, through criteria related to public and local government opportunities for participation and transparent guidance. Potential strategies to provide opportunities for more meaningful public and local government input, with the aim to increase community acceptance, were then identified. Each state has different regulatory characteristics and level of state involvement in the utility-scale solar siting process that impacted the ability of the public and local governments to be involved in the decision-making process. The study concludes with potential technical solutions to increase public acceptance of planned utility-scale solar, including integrated vegetation management and agrivoltaics.
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