The Arizona Planning Association recently presented Pima County Development Services an Honorable Mention Award for the Renewable Energy Incentive District (REID). This award in the “Best Ordinance” category was accepted by Arlan Colton, FAICP, Planning Director, at the state association’s annual conference in Flagstaff last week.
Approved by the Board of Supervisors in March 2012, REID offers incentives to the solar industry to develop on selected sites within unincorporated Pima County. REID gives solar developers the opportunity to build more swiftly and less expensively. “We are pleased that the County has been recognized for this effort, which was several years in the making,” says Colton. “The properties identified for utility-scale photovoltaic solar can proceed to development much quicker, having been pre-cleared for most development requirements.”
There are also financial incentives. The County waives the $15,000 fee charged for accelerated plan processing, and does not require roadway development impact fees.
Pima County is the first jurisdiction in the state to develop a REID ordinance. The model ordinance was a result of a subcontract with the City of Tucson, funded by a federal grant from the Department of Energy.
“Other communities and counties are welcome to use Pima’s REID ordinance as a basis for their own incentive district,” Colton says.
Because of complex requirements for utility-scale solar development, Development Services worked closely with other County departments including Transportation, Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Quality, Regional Flood Control District and Cultural Resources.
The ordinance is limited to photovoltaic systems or comparable technologies that use an equivalent amount of water, to recognize the County’s priority for water conservation. The ordinance also minimizes solar developers’ risk by providing pre- assessed sites and an expedited development process.