September 26, 2016 – Today SolSmart announced that 22 communities across the United States achieved SolSmart status from the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. The program recognizes cities, towns, and counties for making it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar; they accomplish this largely by reducing the “soft costs” or non-material costs of going solar.
Most of the awardees (14) achieved gold status for taking significant steps to reduce costs of going solar; one achieved silver status; and the remaining seven achieved bronze status under the recognition program.
The program was developed by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICCMA) to help communities streamline processes like permitting, inspection, financing options, and approval for solar. A SolSmart designation signals that a community is “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs. It is the latest in a series of programs, like the Solar Friendly Communities recognition program, aiming to help speed the deployment of local solar power.
“Local governments have a huge role to play in advancing solar energy development,” according to a recent article co-authored by The Solar Foundation’s Philip Haddix and ICCMA’s Emily Sparks. “Solar soft costs can represent up to two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. By taking the initiative to cut red tape and streamline local processes, communities can reduce soft costs and make solar significantly more affordable for homes and businesses.”
The first round of gold designees include:
Boulder County in Colorado received a silver designation, and bronze recipients included Claremont and Redwood City, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; St. Paul, Minn.; Somerville, Mass.; Philadelphia, Penn.; and Burlington, Mass.
Haddix and Sparks noted that while excited to recognize the first 22 designees, they believe this is just the beginning. SolSmart aims to designate at least 300 communities over the course of the three-year program, providing no-cost technical assistance on the way to achieving that goal.
In addition to ICCMA and The Solar Foundation, the SolSmart initiative is supported by Home Innovation Research Labs, the National Civic League, Meister Consultants Group, and TSF. Joining TSF on the technical assistance team are the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Meister Consultants Group, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Electric Power Research Institute, the Regulatory Assistance Project, and Brooks Engineering.
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