County Administrator's Office

Ordinance No. 6046

Renewable Energy Amendment

Adopted September 10, 2013

An ordinance of the board of supervisors of the county of Sonoma, state of California, adopting changes to chapter 26 of the Sonoma county zoning code for renewable energy by amending uses allowed in zoning districts, establishing general development and special use standards for renewable energy systems and facilities, adding a renewable energy combining district, adding to the existing density bonus program, providing for reduced parking incentives and by adoption of definitions.

Exhibit A - Combining Zone Regulations
Exhibit B - Required Parking Standards
Exhibit C -  Allowed Uses and Permit Requirements (PDF: 93 kB)
Exhibit D - General Development Standards for Renewable Energy Projects
Exhibit E - Bioenergy Facilities Special Use Standards
Exhibit F - Solar Energy Facilities – Special Use Standards
Exhibit G - Wind Energy Special Use Standards
Exhibit H - Density Bonus for Renewable Energy Systems

The Board of Supervisors of the County of Sonoma, State of California, ordains as follows:

Section I Findings

The Board finds and declares that the adoption of this Ordinance is necessary and appropriate to implement state law and the policies and programs of the Sonoma County General Plan, to ensure neighborhood compatibility, protect the general welfare of residents in the County, and facilitate the development of alternative energy sources. The Board hereby finds that the facts supporting the adoption of this Ordinance are as follows:

  1. The State of California enacted the Global Warming Solutions Act, Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) in 2006 which requires a reduction in California's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and the County of Sonoma has adopted a bold goal of reducing GHG by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2015.
  2. The County has adopted a Community Climate Action Plan which identifies a number of actions to be taken in order to address the AB 32 requirements and the County’s GHG reduction goals by 2015.
  3. The Sonoma County General Plan contains numerous policies and programs within its Open Space and Resource Conservation Element and its Circulation and Transportation Element that will be supported and implemented with the adoption of the ordinance amending the Zoning Code. The proposed ordinance is consistent with the goals, policies and objectives of the General Plan, including the proposed amendment to ORSC-15D and the Glossary.
  4. This ordinance provides specific measures to identify and facilitate development of a variety of alternative energy systems and provides clarification on standards for placement, construction, operation and maintenance of renewable energy systems, as well as making provisions for density bonuses and parking allowances, in order to encourage and facilitate the provision of new distributed energy systems and to reduce uncertainly in the permitting process for new renewable energy production facilities.
  5. Based upon the information contained in the Initial Study dated September 11, 2012 and included in the project file, it has been determined that there will be no significant environmental effect resulting from this project, and a Negative Declaration has been prepared. The Negative Declaration has been completed, reviewed, and considered, together with comments received during the public review process, in compliance with CEQA and State and County CEQA Guidelines, and reflects the independent judgment and analysis of the Board.

Section II Chapter 26, Zoning, of the Sonoma County Code is amended as follows:

Section 26-02-140, Definitions, is amended to incorporate the following definitions, in their alphabetical locations:

Accessory renewable energy system: An on-site renewable energy system, including but not limited to wind, bioenergy, solar, low-temperature geothermal heating systems, geothermal heat pump systems, and fuel cells and combinations thereof, where the energy generated is used primarily to meet the energy demands of the lawful use on the property where the system is located. Accessory renewable energy systems are subject to the applicable general development standards set forth in 26.88.200 A.

Biodiesel: A liquid fuel intended for consumption by compression ignition engines that is produced by chemical modification of plant oil, animal fat, or algae feedstock.Production involves reacting the feedstock with an alcohol such as ethanol in the presence of a catalyst.

Bioenergy: Renewable energy made available from materials derived from from feedstocks that consist of recently living organisms or their metabolic by-products from sources such as farming, forestry, and biodegradable industrial and municipal waste.

Capacity (Electrical): The maximum amount of electricity that a generating unit, power facility, or utility can produce under specified conditions. Capacity is measured in kilowatts (KW) or megawatts (MW).

Co-generation: The successive production of electrical or mechanical energy and useful heat energy.

Commercial renewable energy facility: An energy generation facility using renewable fuel sources, including but not limited to wind, bioenergy, solar, geothermal, and fuel cells and combinations thereof, where the energy generated is used to meet off- site energy needs. Commercial renewable energy facilities are subject to the general development standards set forth in 26.88.200.B. as well as any applicable Special Use Regulations.

Community Choice Aggregator (CCA): As defined in Public Utilities Code Section 331.1 refers to any of the following entities, if that entity is not within the jurisdiction of a local publicly owned electric utility that provided electrical service as of January 1, 2003: any city, county, or city and county whose governing board elects to combine the loads of its residents, businesses, and municipal facilities in a community wide electricity buyers’ program or any group of cities, counties, or cities and counties whose governing boards have elected to combine the loads of their programs, through the formation of a joint powers agency established under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 6500) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code.

Distributed energy system or facility: A small-scale electricity generation system or facility that is interconnected to the distribution network. Distributed energy systems primarily serve on-site uses, while distributed energy generation facilities generate power for both on- and off-site power needs.

Emerging renewable technology: Technology that uses a renewable power source, such as solar or wind energy, to generate electricity, and that has emerged beyond the research and development phase, is commercially available, and has significant commercial potential as determined by the Energy Commission. Emerging renewable technologies include photo voltaic, solar thermal electric, fuel cells using a renewable fuel, and small wind turbine technology no greater than 50 kilowatts in size.

Fuel Cell: An advanced energy conversion device that combines hydrogen-bearing fuels with airborne oxygen in an electrochemical reaction to produce electricity very efficiently and with minimal environmental effects.

Geothermal: Natural heat from within the earth, captured for production of electrical power.

Hybrid alternative energy facilities: An alternative energy system using one or more renewable fuel sources to provide electricity, gas, or heat energy. Batteries or fuel cells may be a part of a hybrid alternative energy facility.

Important farmland: Lands mapped by the state Farmlands Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP) as Prime Farmland, Farmland of Statewide Importance, or Unique Farmlands. Does not include lands mapped by the FMMP as Farmlands of Local Importance unless specifically noted.

Megawatt (MW): 1,000 kilowatts. (Example) One megawatt is about the amount of power needed to meet the energy demands of up to 750 homes.)

Net metering: Contractual agreement or tariff wherein the system owner/generator produces more electricity than is needed to serve the on-site electrical load, and the surplus electricity is supplied to the electrical distribution grid. The owner/generator’s utility meter records the difference, or net, between what the utility supplies to the owner/generator and what the owner/generator supplies to the grid.

Photo-voltaic (PV): A technology that uses a semiconductor to convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Solar energy system: An system of photo-voltaic cells, panels or arrays designed to collect and convert solar power into energy for on-site use. See also Accessory Renewable Energy System.

Solar thermal electric: The conversion of sunlight to heat and its concentration and use to power a generator to produce electricity. Typically, solar concentrators boil water with focused sunlight, generating high-pressure steam which drives conventional turbine generators.

(b) A new Article 60, RE Renewable Energy Combining District, is added to replace the previously reserved Article 60, as shown in the attached Exhibit A

(c) Section 26-86-010, Required Parking, is amended beginning at section (h) and continuing through (k) and adding a new Section 26-86-020, as shown in the attached Exhibit B, in order to provide parking allowances and recommendations to encourage alternative means of transportation. In all other respects, Section 26-86-010, at sections (a) through (g) shall remain unchanged.

(d) A new Table 1, Renewable Energy Systems and Facilities Land Use Table, is added at Section 26-88-200 as shown on the attached Exhibit C.

(e) Section 26-88-200, Renewable Energy General Development Standards, is added as shown in the attached Exhibit D.

(f)Section 26-88-202, BioEnergy Special Use Standards, is added as shown in the attached Exhibit E.

(f)Section 26-88-204, Geothermal and Thermal Solar Facilities, is added as a placeholder as follows:

Geothermal and Thermal Solar Facilities (Reserved)

(h) Section 26-88-206, Solar Energy Special Use Standards, is added as shown in the attached Exhibit F.

(i) Section 26-88-135, Small Wind Energy Systems, is deleted in its entirety, for purposes of moving it to a new section of the County Code.

(j) Section 26-88-208, Wind Energy Special Use Standards, formerly known as Small Wind Energy Systems, is added as shown in the attached Exhibit G.

(k) Section 26-89-050, Density Bonus Programs, Subsection D, County supplemental density bonus program, is amended to provide additional density bonus for renewable energy facilities, as shown on the attached Exhibit H. In all other respects, Section 26- 89-050 shall remain unchanged.

Section Ill

The Board of Supervisors hereby adopts the Negative Declaration and certifies that the Negative Declaration has been completed, reviewed, and considered, together with comments received during the public review process, in compliance with CEQA and State and County CEQA Guidelines. The Board of Supervisors finds and declares that the Negative Declaration reflects the independent judgment and analysis of the Board.

Section IV

If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this Ordinance is for any reason held to be unconstitutional and invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portion of this Ordinance. The Board of Supervisors hereby declares that it would have passed this Ordinance and every section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses or phrases be declared unconstitutional or invalid.

Section V

This Ordinance shall be and the same is hereby declared to be in full force and effect from and after thirty (30) days after the date of its passage and shall be published once before the expiration of fifteen (15) days after passage, with the names of the Supervisors voting for or against the same, in a newspaper of general circulation, published in the County of Sonoma, State of California.

In Regular Session of the Board Supervisors of the County of Sonoma, passed and adopted this 10 day of September, 2013, on a regular roll call of the members of said Board by the following vote:

Supervisors:

Gorin: Aye
Zane: Aye
McGuire: Aye
Carrillo: Aye
Rabbitt: Aye

Ayes: 5
Noes: 0
Absent: 0
Abstain: 0

So Ordered.

Whereupon, the Chair declared the above foregoing Ordinance duly adopted and attested and signed by the Chair of the Board of Supervisors and attested by Clerk of the Board of Supervisors

Contact Information

Address
575 Administration Drive
Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.464665, -122.725235

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