PRESS RELEASE: Somerville, Massachusetts Joins National Program to Reduce Solar Energy Costs
Somerville to receive no-cost technical assistance making solar more affordable and accessible
WASHINGTON, DC, July 6, 2016 — Somerville, Massachusetts has joined a leading-edge cohort of nearly 30 cities and counties nationwide as a founding participant in SolSmart, a national program to encourage solar energy development at the local level. The SolSmart program will provide official recognition to cities and counties for making solar more affordable and accessible in their communities.
Somerville 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 no-cost technical assistance to reduce barriers to solar energy growth in Somerville and make solar more affordable for homes and businesses. In recognition of these efforts, the goal is for Somerville to soon receive a national SolSmart designation – Bronze, Silver, or Gold – which are awarded to communities that have taken key steps to encourage solar energy development.
Massachusetts is home to 15,095 solar jobs, ranking second in the nation for the number of solar jobs after California, according to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2015. The same report found there are 403 solar companies in the state, including three in Somerville.
Somerville was recently selected as a 2016 Solarize Mass community by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. As the most urban community yet to participate in Solarize Mass, Somerville’s Solarize campaign, which will launch in July 2016, aims to demonstrate that affordable, sustainable energy is possible in dense cities.
“Somerville is striving to do its part to address climate change by achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and to reach that goal, solar must play a part in powering our City,” said Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone. “It’s a win-win for us—solar will help our residents and businesses lower their monthly bills with clean energy that meets our sustainability goals.”
“Our participation in SolSmart will help us mitigate costs and other obstacles to solar energy growth. The designation from the Department of Energy recognizes that Somerville is a city that is taking important steps in clean energy,” said Oliver Sellers-Garcia, Somerville’s Director of Sustainability and Environment.
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.
Somerville is among nearly 30 communities nationwide that are “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.
“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.
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.
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.
Avery Palmer, The Solar Foundation, 202-846-7509, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Dodson, International City/County Management Association, 202-962-3694, email@example.com