Fifty-Eight Communities in 25 States Are Now “Open for Solar Business”

SolSmart designates new cities and counties including Atlanta, Madison, Charlottesville, D.C., San Antonio

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 8, 2017 — Fifty-eight communities in 25 states have now achieved designation under SolSmart, a national program that recognizes cities and counties for lowering barriers to solar energy development. Representing more than 29 million people, these cities and counties are cutting red tape to reduce the cost of solar energy at the local level and become “open for solar business.”

Today, SolSmart is announcing 22 new designations at the American Planning Association National Planning Conference in New York City. Since the program launched in April 2016, 58 communities have received designation. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart aims to designate at least 300 communities within three years.

“In just one year, 58 communities have demonstrated national leadership by making it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation. “These cities and counties are installing new solar capacity, reducing interconnection times, streamlining permitting requirements, and reducing the cost of solar for homes and businesses, opening the door to tremendous job growth and economic expansion.”

Today, nine new communities achieved the highest designation of SolSmart Gold: Atlanta, Georgia; Beaverton, Oregon; Davis, California; El Paso, Texas; Hillsboro, Oregon; Huntington Beach, California; Madison, Wisconsin; Washington, D.C.; and Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Two new communities were designated SolSmart Silver: Ames, Iowa and Oro Valley, Arizona.

Eleven new communities were designated SolSmart Bronze: Carrboro, North Carolina; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Charlottesville, Virginia; Cupertino, California; Dartmouth, Massachusetts; Lincoln, Nebraska; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Natick, Massachusetts; Orange County, North Carolina; Raymore, Missouri; and San Antonio, Texas.

And four more communities achieved SolSmart Gold after they were previously designated silver or bronze: Charleston County, South Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Somerville, Massachusetts.

“The City of Atlanta is proud to receive the SolSmart Gold Designation in recognition of our path-breaking leadership with solar energy,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “We launched the Solar Atlanta program in 2015, and are now installing solar panels on 28 municipal buildings, saving money and reducing our carbon emissions. With our new, streamlined permitting process, we are also sending the message that solar works for our residents and property owners.”

Local governments achieve SolSmart designation by evaluating programs and practices, such as permitting, planning, and zoning, in order to reduce obstacles to solar energy development and pass cost savings on to consumers.

A few examples of their achievements include:

Atlanta, SolSmart Gold: The city developed a process to approve certain solar permit applications over the counter; proposed a solar plus storage project on an urban farm; launched a solar landing page on the city’s sustainability website; and created a streamlined permitting pathway for small solar systems.

Ames, SolSmart Silver: The city created an interactive map to share solar information with the public; encouraged solar projects on community facilities; provided clear guidance for solar in historic and special use districts; and provided intensive cross-training to permitting and inspection staff.

San Antonio, SolSmart Bronze: The city developed an online solar permitting process; installed solar on public facilities including the San Antonio International Airport; and created incentives through the local utility to make solar more affordable.

A list of all SolSmart designees and further details on actions the communities took to achieve designation is available at SolSmart.org.

The SolSmart designation team, led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), awards communities points based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. SolSmart’s team of national solar experts, led by The Solar Foundation, offers no-cost technical assistance to help participating cities and counties achieve designation.

All U.S. cities and counties are eligible to join SolSmart and can begin the process by visiting SolSmart.org.

 

About SolSmart

SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Learn more at SolSmart.org.

 

About The Solar Foundation

The Solar Foundation® is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate adoption of the world’s most abundant energy source. Through its leadership, research, and capacity building, The Solar Foundation creates transformative solutions to achieve a prosperous future in which solar technology is integrated into all aspects of our lives. The Solar Foundation is considered the premier research organization on the solar labor workforce, employer trends, and the economic impacts of solar. It has provided expert advice to leading organizations such as the National Academies, the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. Department of Energy, and others during a time of dynamic industry growth and policy and economic uncertainty. Visit us at TheSolarFoundation.org.

 

About ICMA

ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, advances professional local government management worldwide. Its mission is to create excellence in local governance by developing and advancing professional management to create sustainable communities that improve lives worldwide. The management decisions made by ICMA’s members affect millions of individuals living in thousands of communities, from small villages and towns to large metropolitan areas. 

 

About the SunShot Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity and support solar adoption. SunShot aims to make solar energy a low cost electricity source for all Americans through research and development efforts in collaboration with public and private partners. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:  Avery Palmer, The Solar Foundation, 202-866-0908, apalmer@solarfound.org