Zoning Rules Stifle Urban Clean Energy. Can The Rules Be Rewritten?
Outmoded and often discriminatory zoning laws block clean energy development in low-income urban neighborhoods. An effort is underway to update rules, and enable clean energy equity.
An energy transformation is underway in the United States, with clean energy and energy efficiency reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. Yet the advantages of clean energy aren’t enjoyed equally throughout the country. Clean energy development has lagged in older, densely built urban areas. Low-income neighborhoods, in particular, have seen relatively less investment in renewables, and can find it hard to take advantage of technologies like rooftop solar that can lower electricity bills. And, while there are many efforts underway to address these equity challenges, for example through community energy programs, fundamental barriers to energy transformation remain.
Sara Bronin, professor of law at the University of Connecticut and former chair of Hartford, Connecticut’s Planning and Zoning Commission, explores the impact that one such hurdle, outmoded and often discriminatory community zoning rules, can have on access to clean energy. Progressive rules can ease the adoption of clean infrastructure, yet many zoning regulations date back decades and fail to take modern energy into account. Bronin discusses the interplay of zoning and energy, and efforts to reform zoning regulations for greater clean energy access.
Sara Bronin is Faculty Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Law at the University of Connecticut.
Balancing Renewable Energy Goals with Community Interests https://kleinmanenergy.upenn.edu/policy-digests/balancing-renewable-energy-goals-community-interests
The Best Local Response to Climate Change is a Comprehensive Efficiency Plan https://kleinmanenergy.upenn.edu/paper/best-local-response-climate-change-comprehensive-efficiency-plan
Electric Vehicles in the City: The Relationship of EV Infrastructure and Spatial Development in Beijing https://kleinmanenergy.upenn.edu/policy-digests/electric-vehicles-city