Permits: Renewable Energy Projects

ADEQ issues approvals, certifications and general and individual permits, through its three divisions, for a number of activities that may occur at renewable energy development projects. Please click on the division links below for information about the kinds of permits that may apply to you depending on the nature of your project. If you have questions as you begin the application process, please contact Kurt Maurer in the ADEQ Director’s Office.


Air Quality Division

Renewable energy projects under ADEQ's jurisdiction may be subject to air permitting requirements depending on the type of equipment used and the associated level of air emissions. Solar and wind projects may be subject to air permitting because of the use of process-support boilers and emergency-use engines. It is possible such activities can be covered by the department's general air quality permits, which are typically pre-written for a source category. Biomass boilers and other combustion-related processes require an individual permit that involves a site-specific analysis and longer approval periods.

Information about ADEQ air quality permits and applications is available on the AQD Permits page.

Please note that Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties have their own approved air quality permitting programs. Facilities that will be located in these counties should work with the respective air quality agencies to assess permitting needs.

Maricopa County Air Quality Department

Pima County DEQ Air Program

Pinal County Air Quality Department


Waste Programs Division

ADEQ's Waste Programs Division issues a variety of permits, approvals, and registrations for facilities that generate, treat, store, dispose, or transport wastes. Developers of renewable energy projects may need to consider the following permits or approvals for constructing and operating a renewable energy facility.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous Waste Generators
The Waste Programs Division implements state and federal hazardous waste laws pursuant to delegation from the U.S. EPA. A facility that generates hazardous waste may need an EPA Identification Number which can be obtained from ADEQ. More information regarding hazardous waste and requirements applicable to a facility generating hazardous waste can be found on the Hazardous Waste Management page.

Hazardous Waste Facility Permits
A hazardous waste facility permit is required for any facility that accepts hazardous waste from off-site for the purpose of storage, treatment, or disposal. Some hazardous waste generators may require a hazardous waste permit for certain types of treatment operations. It is unlikely that a renewable energy facility will require a hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility permit. Further information can be found at Hazardous Waste Permits page.

Solid Waste

Registrations and Notifications
ADEQ's solid waste program requires the registration of specific types of facilities including used oil collection centers, lead-acid battery collection sites, waste tire collection sites, transfer stations, septage haulers, and biohazardous medical waste transporters. Renewable energy facilities are unlikely to require any notification or registration within ADEQ’s solid waste program. Additional information can be found on the Registrations, Certifications, and Notifications page.

Special Waste
Arizona law defines two types of special waste: petroleum-contaminated soils and waste from shredding motor vehicles. Generators, transporters, and receivers of these wastes are required to register with ADEQ to obtain a Special Waste Identification Number. More information can be found on the Special Waste page.

Solid Waste Facility Plan Approval
Solid Waste Facility Plan Approval is required for specific types of facilities including landfills and facilities that store, treat, or dispose biohazardous medical waste or special waste. Renewable energy facilities are unlikely to require solid waste plan approval for their operations. Additional information can be found on the Permits and Plan Reviews page.


Water Quality Division

Developers of renewable energy projects may need one or more of the following water quality permits for constructing and operating a renewable energy facility.

Section 402 Clean Water Act (CWA) Permits

Arizona has authorization from the U.S. EPA to operate the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit Program (Section 402 of the CWA) on the state level. The NPDES program and the surface water permits issued are referred to as the Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) Permit Program. The program includes individual permits as well as general permits for construction, de minimus discharges, and municipal and industrial stormwater (Multi-Sector General Permit) discharges. For more information, please visit the Arizona Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (AZPDES) Permit Program page.

Any point source discharge to waters of the U.S. (including ephemeral washes and their tributaries) requires AZPDES permit coverage. Discharges from industrial facilities, such as the parabolic trough facilities to produce electricity using a steam turbine generator, would likely require an individual AZPDES permit if the discharges were to a. U.S. water.

Stormwater discharges associated with construction activities, such as clearing, grading, or excavating, that disturb one acre or more must obtain permit coverage under the AZPDES Construction General Permit. Permit coverage also is required for construction activities that will disturb less than one acre of land but the project is part of a larger common plan of development or sale and the entire project will ultimately disturb one or more acres. As part of permit coverage, a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) must be prepared and implemented before ground disturbance begins. The Construction General Permit, SWPPP checklist, and associated forms are available on the Construction General Permit (CGP) page.

If pesticides and herbicides will be applied over or near U.S. waters, then AZPDES permit coverage may be required. ADEQ has issued the Pesticide General Permit for discharges from the application of pesticides or herbicides on and near U.S. waters. ADEQ's permit is based on EPA's pesticides general permit. For more information, please visit the Pesticide General Permit (PGP) page.

Renewable energy projects are not currently a sector recognized as needing coverage under the Multi-Sector General Permit. Certain activities, such as cleaning mirrors or photovoltaic panels, subterranean dewatering, and well development, that create discharges having the potential to reach waters of the U.S. may require AZPDES permit coverage.

ADEQ issues a De Minimis General Permit (DMGP), which is designed to cover specified types of discharges that:

  • Meet the applicable Surface Water Quality Standards;
  • Are generally of limited flow and/or frequency;
  • Are managed using appropriate best management practices;
  • Do not last continuously for longer than 30 days unless otherwise approved in advance by ADEQ.

For more information, please visit the De Minimis General Permit (DMGP) page.

Section 401/404 Clean Water Act (CWA) Permits

If project activities occur inside the Ordinary High Water Mark of any water of the U.S., then a CWA section 404 permit (a.k.a. dredge and fill) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may be required. If a 404 permit (or any other federal permit) is required for the project, a state-issued CWA section 401 certification of the permit may be required to ensure that the permitted activities will not result in a violation of Arizona’s surface water quality standards. For more information, please visit the Clean Water Act (CWA) 401 Water Quality Certification Program page.

Drinking Water

Drinking water to support a workforce may be subject to regulation. A water system that has at least fifteen service connections or regularly serves an average of at least twenty-five individuals daily at least 60 days out of the year must comply with state drinking water regulations. As part of the regulatory requirements, an applicant for a new drinking water system, or for modifying an existing system, must submit plans for review and approval before construction begins. Future drinking water systems may require that ADEQ approve the source water as a drinking water source. Also, ADEQ may need to evaluate and approve an Elementary Business Plan to ensure that the water system has and can maintain adequate technical, managerial, and financial capabilities to consistently provide safe drinking water. For more information, please visit the Safe Drinking Water page.

ADEQ has delegated permitting and enforcement responsibilities of state rules for drinking water systems to some counties, meaning the owner of the water system contacts the county where the project is located for drinking water approvals, except when a government entity is the owner or applicant. Information for the delegated counties is available at:

Aquifer Protection Program

Facilities that discharge (i.e., add a pollutant either directly to an aquifer, to the land surface or the vadose zone in such a manner that there is a reasonable probability that the pollutant will reach an aquifer) generally must obtain an Aquifer Protection Permit (APP). Discharging facilities, such as blow down cooling towers and evaporation ponds may require an APP. ADEQ offers individual and general permits. If a facility cannot meet the rule requirements for a general permit, then an individual APP is required. Also, both the individual and general APPs establish specified closure requirements. For more informatiuon, please visit the Aquifer Protection Permit (APP) Program page.

Wastewater treatment facilities for a workforce, including on-site treatment facilities, require an APP. A general APP is available for most sewage collection systems and on-site systems (septic) that have a design flow less than 24,000 gallons per day. ADEQ has delegated permitting and enforcement responsibilities for general permits regarding septic/wastewater and wastewater treatment facilities to Arizona counties, meaning the owner of the wastewater treatment facility contacts the county where the project is located for approvals, except when a government entity is the owner or applicant. Information for the delegated counties is available on the Application Submittal Locations for Select Water Quality Division Reviews, Approvals, and Permits page.

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