PRESS RELEASE: Five California Cities Join National Program to Reduce Solar Energy Costs

San Francisco, Santa Monica, Santa Rosa, Cupertino, and Redwood City join SolSmart, a new federal program to encourage solar energy development

WASHINGTON, DC, July 14, 2016— Five California cities have joined an elite cohort of nearly 30 cities and counties nationwide as founding participants in SolSmart, a national program to encourage solar energy development locally. SolSmart will provide official recognition to cities and counties for making solar more affordable and accessible in their communities.

These California cities are among the nation’s first participants in the SolSmart program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. SolSmart will award a designation of Bronze, Silver, or Gold to communities that have taken key steps to reduce costs and remove barriers to solar. Communities will also receive no-cost technical assistance to help them achieve designation.

San Francisco, Santa Monica, Santa Rosa, Cupertino, and Redwood City have signed on as “Early Adopters” in the SolSmart program. SolSmart is administered by a team of national experts led by the International City/County Management Association and The Solar Foundation.

“California has long been a national leader in its groundbreaking policies to encourage solar energy growth, which have helped make rooftop solar a bright spot in the California economy,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. “SolSmart will help support local action to cut costs and make it easier to develop solar projects, spurring more jobs and economic development in their communities. We applaud the five California cities that have joined SolSmart as Early Adopters, and we hope more cities and counties in California will take advantage of the opportunities of the SolSmart program.”

California has 75,598 solar jobs statewide, more than any other state, according to The Solar Foundation’s California Solar Jobs Census 2015. California is also home to 2,336 solar companies. SolSmart will help California cities and counties identify policies to attract even more solar jobs and economic development to their communities.

“The role of local governments in building stronger and more resilient communities has never been greater,” said ICMA Executive Director Robert J. O’Neill, Jr. “Cities, towns, and counties consume a large portion of the nation’s electricity, which is why they can also have a significant impact on the financial, environmental, and economic health of the country by adopting solar energy technologies. The SolSmart program will recognize that impact.”

“We are excited to work with local governments to reduce costs and other barriers to solar energy development,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “We hope many more communities across the nation will be encouraged to pursue a SolSmart designation and take advantage of the no-cost technical assistance available.”

To receive a SolSmart designation, communities must take action to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning; permitting, interconnection, and inspection; financing; customer acquisition; and installation labor. Reducing these costs will lead to savings that are passed on to consumers.

Communities seeking designation are eligible to receive no-cost technical assistance from SolSmart experts. They can also apply to host SolSmart Advisors, which will be fully funded temporary staff embedded in up to 40 communities to help each achieve designation.

SolSmart announced the finalized criteria for its solar designation program on April 27, 2016. Other communities can apply to join the SolSmart program and find more information at 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 www.solsmart.org

About the SunShot Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.

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 Solar Foundation

An independent nonprofit founded in 1977, the purpose of The Solar Foundation (TSF) is to increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research and education that transforms markets. While solar energy is a key part of our energy future, TSF is committed to excellence in its aim to help people fairly and objectively gauge the value of the solar industry worldwide.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Avery Palmer, The Solar Foundation, 202-302-2765, apalmer@solarfound.org

Emily Dodson, International City/County Management Association, 202-962-3694, edodson@icma.org