November 4, 2023

Energy Storage in Local Zoning Ordinances


Increasing policy support and declining prices for battery energy storage systems (BESS) are driving rapid growth in the installation of these systems in the United States and around the world. Because a BESS is modular in nature and has limited infrastructure requirements, it can be built in close proximity to existing uses, which creates the potential for conflict. As the use of BESS grows, local planning and zoning staff are increasingly being asked to determine where the systems can be built and how their impacts on surrounding uses can be mitigated. While a large-scale BESS offers significant electric grid and societal benefits, it can also pose safety, visual, auditory, and environmental impacts on the community in which it is located. While these are material impacts, current safety codes for energy storage systems and land use frameworks provide planners with the necessary tools and processes to mitigate those impacts and ensure that their communities safely receive the benefits of energy storage systems. This report provides an overview of BESS from a land use perspective and describes their implications for zoning and project permitting. It concludes with an analysis of current energy storage zoning standards adopted by local jurisdictions in the U.S. Its intent is to objectively inform land use decisions for energy storage projects by equipping planning officials with relevant information about these technologies and knowledge of what questions to ask during review processes, so that energy storage projects can move forward in ways that will benefit electric systems while not unduly affecting host communities.

Published: November 4, 2023


Twitchell J.B., D.W. Powell, and M.D. Paiss. 2023. Energy Storage in Local Zoning Ordinances Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.