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Last Updated July 28, 2021

Program Overview


Regulatory Policy



Incentive Type:

Solar/Wind Access Policy



Start Date:


Expiration Date:


Web Site:

Applicable Sectors:


Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:



Madison, Wisconsin, has established several local laws to facilitate the planning and permitting of solar and wind systems. The planning guidelines are specific to solar, while the permitting laws and procedures include wind as well.

To facilitate solar access, Madison’s land subdivision regulations require streets to be "oriented in an east-west direction to the maximum extent possible or to within 20 degrees of such orientation." There are some exceptions based on topography, property size and shape, existing street patterns, and other considerations. In addition, subdivision lots should be oriented to maximize solar access for buildings, and open space lots within subdivisions should be placed "where the location of open space lands provide greater achievement of solar access objectives and requirements of the entire subdivision." Finally, "the installation of trees shall take into account solar access objectives; so as to "minimize future shading of the most southerly side of contemplated building locations."

Solar and Wind Access
In Wisconsin, a state solar and wind access law defines how local governments are permitted to regulate solar and wind energy systems. In 2008 the City of Madison adopted revisions (Ordinance No. 08-00122) to their existing zoning ordinance in order to bring the city in line with state law. The revised ordinance permits solar and wind energy systems as accessory uses in all zoning districts with approval of the Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development. The ordinance also contains additional language describing details of the approval process, planning requirements, and setbacks for wind energy systems.

For wind, a new section has been adopted (See authority 4) where each district allows as a "conditional use" all that are described in each use list table. 

For Solar, according to 28.151 supplemental regulations, each district allows as a "permitted use" all that are described in each use list table. 

Chapter 16.23 also provides guidelines on how to orient streets to maximize solar access in the attach lots. As well as guidelines for the size shape and orientation of subdivision lots. These measures include but are not limited to the use of cluster development and building setbacks.