Delaware's New Castle County Council recently passed Substitute No. 1 to Ordinance No. 22-091, which will require newly constructed commercial buildings with low-sloped roofs to be "solar-ready." While some buildings may already be designed for rooftop-solar, others may require enhancements involving additional construction materials.
Of concern to commercial property owners and developers, the ordinance does not grandfather projects already seeking subdivision or land development plan approval. Rather, it will apply to new building permit submissions as of January 1, 2023. This requirement impacts projects in unincorporated County areas, excluding municipalities such as the City of Wilmington and Newark, Delaware. So far, neither of Delaware's two other counties, Kent and Sussex, both with less commercial and industrial development, have a similar law.
The ordinance will require any new building 50,000 square feet or more to be built with basic infrastructure to allow a rooftop solar photovoltaic system to be easily and cost-effectively installed at a future date. The building permit application will need to reflect the requirement. Developers should take special note of how square footage is calculated under the New Castle County Code, especially as to mezzanine areas, if a project does not want to fall under the law. Some discretionary hardship exceptions may be allowed.
Morris James is available to advise on compliance with all Delaware solar laws, as well as ancillary matters such as zoning, title, leasing, and regulatory services. Consider timing of building permit submissions with regard to the new requirement as the end of the year approaches.
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