updated 4/18/2007 10:17:33 AM ET 2007-04-18T14:17:33

Former Vice President Al Gore's upscale neighborhood granted the environmental activist approval Tuesday to install 33 solar panels on the roof of his mansion.

The city of Belle Meade had blocked his application until new rules were approved unanimously late Tuesday, said Gore spokesman Chris Song. The city, located within metropolitan Nashville, said the panels must be placed in areas where they can't be seen by neighbors.

Gore, who starred in the documentary film "An Inconvenient Truth" about global warming, already buys enough energy from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and methane gas to balance 100 percent of his electricity costs.

He is also upgrading the furnace, windows, and light switches, as well as installing new floor radiant heat and solar vents, to improve the home's energy standards, said Kalee Kreider, a Gore spokeswoman.

The home bought by Gore in 2002 is more than 70 years old and illustrates the challenges of renovating an older home to conserve more energy, Kreider said.

"It's obviously easier to build a green home from the get-go," she said. "When you purchase an older home, these retrofits take lot longer."

Gore earlier this year had been criticized by a group that cited the high energy consumption of his home.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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