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MU Law Expert Receives Funding to Improve Solar Energy Laws

Model statutes and ordinances will make it easier to “go solar”

Sept. 27, 2011

Story Contact(s):
Nathan Hurst, hurstn@missouri.edu, 573-882-6217

COLUMBIA, Mo. – In an era of rising energy prices and growing concerns over climate change, demand for renewable energy sources such as solar power has steadily increased.  One hurdle that many potential solar energy users face is a lack of adequate state and local laws to enable the efficient use of solar energy. To help address this problem, Troy Rule, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Missouri School of Law and a renewable energy law expert, is drafting new model statutes and ordinances that should make it easier for people to use solar power.

Troy Rule is an associate professor of law at the University of Missouri School of Law and a renewable energy law expert.

Rule says one of the obstacles encountered by landowners who are considering new solar panels is solar access. A person who wants to install solar panels on his roof must be confident that his neighbor will not build a second story on his house or plant a large tree that would shade the panels from the sun. Rule seeks to provide state and local government officials with clearer guidelines and better model language for enabling citizens to protect solar access on their properties.

“Solar access is an issue that can be a major obstacle to solar energy development,” Rule said. “The statutes and ordinances we are drafting are aimed at eliminating such obstacles. It won’t cost local governments much to implement these provisions, and the provisions will better address solar access disputes and thus promote solar energy use.”

The new model ordinances will be structured to allow for easier adaptation into existing zoning codes and will include an innovative set of optional provisions designed to incentivize developers to consider solar access when planning new real estate developments.

Funding for the project comes from a $52,800 grant from SolarTech, a non-profit industry group with a mission to remove cost-barriers and help accelerate the growth of U.S. solar markets. SolarTech’s Solar3.0 process innovation platform recently won a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop model codes, standards, rules, and processes that will enable reduced deployment times and costs for solar installations.

Troy Rule joined the University of Missouri law faculty as an associate professor of law in 2009. Rule has published articles on renewable energy law in the Utah Law Review, Illinois Law Review, and San Diego Law Review. Prior to entering law teaching, he was an attorney at K&L Gates LLP in Seattle, where his practice focused primarily on commercial real estate transactions and wind energy development. He graduated with honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 2005, where he served on the Chicago Journal of International Law.

Operating at the intersection of industry, consumers, local governments, and utilities SolarTech provides the path to make solar happen through better tools enabling the industry to execute faster at lowest possible cost, accelerating the growth of solar energy at the state and local level. On behalf of their 120 members, Board, and partners, their mission is to develop, deploy and disseminate best practices and standards that make mass adoption of solar a reality through our core initiatives: workforce development, financing, performance, installation, permitting, and interconnection. For information on SolarTech, visit www.solartech.org.

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