Maricopa County recognizes the national importance of building a renewable energy portfolio and the opportunities for solar energy
development present within our region. To facilitate this development, Maricopa County created two programs related to solar energy:
Utility-Scale and Distributed Energy Distributed Energy.
Distributed Energy is itself separated into Residential
For purposes of administering the Maricopa County Zoning Ordinance (MCZO) and other regulatory documents, Maricopa County defines
“utility-scale” as “an electrical generating system whereby electricity is allowed to enter into the
electrical utility grid by means other than a bi-directional revenue meter”. A typical power plant where the electricity that is
generated at the facility is stepped up through a series of transformers then routed to the electrical transmission grid through a switchyard
or switchgear and distributed to a utility company’s customers falls into this category. This is compared to “grid-connected”, which is defined
as “an electrical generating system whereby electricity is allowed to enter into the electrical utility grid
solely through a bi-directional revenue meter”, or “off-grid”, which is defined as “an electrical
generating system whereby electricity is not allowed to enter into the electrical utility grid by any means”. Residential rooftop solar
will fall into the grid-connected or off-grid category.
Essentially, it is the relationship between the energy production source and the utility customer’s service connection that is the distinction.
If the energy is being produced commercially on the “line” side of the utility customer’s electrical meter, it is considered utility-scale. If
the energy is produced on the “load” side of the utility customer’s electrical meter, it is considered grid-connected. Similarly, if the primary
use of the property is the production of electrical power, then a Special Use Permit or IND-3 zoning is required. If the electricity being
generated on site is in support of some other allowed primary use also located on site, then it is considered an accessory use and is allowed
by-right in all zoning districts.
We hope you find this information beneficial. For more information regarding solar energy in unincorporated Maricopa County, please contact
Darren Gerard, AICP, Deputy Director, at (602) 506-7139 or
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has approved the
Green Government Program
and is committed to supporting sustainability efforts.