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The U.S. Department of Energy and the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center are excited to announce that a new, modernized DSIRE is under construction. The new version of DSIRE will offer significant improvements over the current version, including expanded data accessibility and an array of new tools for site users. The new DSIRE site will be available in December 2014. Staff are currently working hard on the new version of DSIRE but are also maintaining the content of the current version of DSIRE. Thank you for your continued support and patience during this transition. We hope you are as excited for December as we are!

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Incentives/Policies for Renewables & Efficiency

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Santa Clara County - Zoning Ordinance   

Last DSIRE Review: 08/20/2012
Program Overview:
State: California
Incentive Type: Solar/Wind Permitting Standards
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Photovoltaics, Wind
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Residential, Agricultural
Web Site:
Authority 1:
Santa Clara County Zoning Ordinance

Santa Clara County's Zoning Ordinance includes standards for wind and solar structures for residential, agricultural, and commercial uses.

Commercial Wind Structures

Commercial-scale wind systems must be setback from property lines by a distance equal to the height of the tower plus the radius of the blades. The structure must also be placed in such a manner to minimize its overall visual impact, may not obstruct the view for neighbors, and must be colored to help the structure blend into the surrounding environment. Lettering and graphics are not permitted on wind systems, and the system should not subject neighbors to excessive noise. The base of the structure must be protected to prevent climbing.

Commercial Solar

Commercial solar systems must be set back from property lines by at least 30 feet. Signage that is visible from a public road is limited to 2 signs of no more than 200 aggregate square feet, and may only include information identifying the manufacturer, installer, owners and public health and safety information. Construction, design, and operation of the facility must minimize soil disturbance and drainage. If use of the equipment is discontinued, the equipment must be removed from the site and recycled to the extent possible.

Residential/Agricultural Small Wind Structures

Wind structures in residential and agricultural areas are limited to 50 kW per customer site. Structures must be set back from all property lines by a distance equal to the height of the system plus the radius of the blades. On parcels between one and five acres, the height of the system may not exceed 80 feet. Parcels of five or more acres may have towers of up to 100 feet. Noise from the system cannot exceed 60 decibels or the maximum noise level allowed by other applicable laws. The base of the structure must be secured and enclosed to prevent climbing, and lighting may only be used for security and aviation safety.

Residential/Agricultural Solar

Solar systems may be placed on any portion of the lot other than within the front yard setback applicable to the principal structure. Solar panels attached to the roof may not exceed the the structure's maximum height by more than five feet.

  General Information
Santa Clara County
Planning Office
70 W. Hedding Street
7th Floor, East Wing
San Jose, CA 95110
Phone: (408) 299-5770
Fax: (408) 288-9198
Web Site:
NCSU - home
Disclaimer: The information presented on the DSIRE web site provides an unofficial overview of financial incentives and other policies. It does not constitute professional tax advice or other professional financial guidance, and it should not be used as the only source of information when making purchasing decisions, investment decisions or tax decisions, or when executing other binding agreements. Please refer to the individual contact provided below each summary to verify that a specific financial incentive or other policy applies to your project.

While the DSIRE staff strives to provide the best information possible, the DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. make no representations or warranties, either express or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of the information. The DSIRE staff, the N.C. Solar Center, N.C. State University and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. disclaim all liability of any kind arising out of your use or misuse of the information contained or referenced on DSIRE Web pages.

Copyright 2014 - 2015 North Carolina State University, under NREL Subcontract No. XEU-0-99515-01. Permission granted only for personal or educational use, or for use by or on behalf of the U.S. government. North Carolina State University prohibits the unauthorized display, reproduction, sale, and/or distribution of all or portions of the content of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) without prior, written consent.