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Oregon Considers New Rules for Solar Farming

January 25, 2011

Anticipating that Oregon counties will see an increase in the number of proposals to farm solar energy, the State late last year assembled a committee to recommend any needed changes to the rules that govern those permits.  The committee combines energy company representatives, staff from various State and county agencies, a rancher, and a farmer.

The hope was that new rules would (1) recognize changes in solar technology over the past few decades and (2) bring some uniformity to the treatment of such farms across the State.

Three months into the process, the committee is struggling to find consensus.  The debate breaks down along lines familiar to Oregon’s rural community:

  • When should the immediate economic boost that such farms could provide (in areas experiencing exceptionally high unemployment right now) trump the overarching imperative to protect the productivity of prime farmland;
  • Should the State plan for relatively few large farms or a greater number scattered about;
  • What is the right threshold for engaging the public in a hearing process to determine whether a given proposal is an appropriate size and location.


Dunn Carney will continue to monitor the work of the committee and update you on any resulting recommendation for rule changes.   If you have any questions about this post, please contact me at

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