I recently attended a green careers workshop at NC State, where I spoke to a planner who works at the North Carolina Solar Center about how energy issues fit into planning, and what planners should know about green energy. Here’s a summary of what he had to say:

- Planners can address regulatory policies like density bonuses and green building initiatives, which affect energy efficiency and the uptake of renewables.
- Solar and wind access laws and nuisance ordinances can make it difficult for people to use solar panels or windmills. Homeowners’ associations also often restrict such structures, but cities can sometimes override the HOA’s rules.
- He also pointed out that some states (including North Carolina) have adopted renewable portfolio standards, which specify a percentage of energy that utilities must produce from renewable sources, and that planners would be important to meeting those objectives.