PRESS RELEASE: Plano, Texas Joins National Program to Reduce Solar Energy Costs

Plano to receive no-cost technical assistance making solar more affordable and accessible

WASHINGTON, DC, June 2, 2016 — Plano, Texas has joined an elite cohort of nearly 30 cities and counties nationwide as a founding participant in SolSmart, a national program to encourage solar energy development locally. The SolSmart program will provide official recognition to cities and counties for making solar more affordable and accessible in the community.

Plano is among the nation’s first participants in the SolSmart program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. SolSmart is providing the community no-cost technical assistance to reduce barriers to solar energy growth in Plano and make solar more affordable for homes and businesses. The goal is for Plano to soon receive a national SolSmart designation – Bronze, Silver, or Gold – showing the community has taken key steps to encourage solar energy development.

Texas is home to 7,030 solar jobs and 445 solar companies, including nine solar companies in Plano, according to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2015.

“We know the solar industry will continue to create jobs in Texas, and the only question is whether some of these jobs end up in Plano. As one of the first participants in SolSmart, we are supporting economic opportunities in our community as we take steps to make solar energy an accessible and affordable option for homes and businesses,” says Rachel Patterson, Director of Environmental Health & Sustainability.

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.

Plano is among nearly 30 communities nationwide that are “Early Adopters” in the SolSmart program. In Texas, the city of Brownsville is also among the first participants in the program. SolSmart is administered by a team of national experts led by the International City/County Management Association and The Solar Foundation.

“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.”

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 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 mission 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, 202-846-7509, apalmer@solarfound.org

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