U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Selects The Solar Foundation to Lead $10.3 Million Solar Technical Assistance Effort for Local Governments

Combined Technical Assistance and Designation Program Efforts Seek to Reduce Soft Costs in 300 Communities Nationwide

Anaheim, CA – September 16, 2015

Today it was announced that The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent, national solar energy research and education nonprofit, has been selected as the recipient of a three-year, $10.3 million award to provide solar technical assistance to communities through the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative.

This effort is part of the broader Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC) award, which seeks to develop a designation program to recognize communities that have taken steps to become more “solar friendly” by addressing local soft cost issues and promoting the use of solar within their jurisdiction. Communities pursuing designation will be eligible for complimentary technical assistance from the TSF team aimed at supporting the staff who will lead local efforts to improve or streamline policies and processes, develop solar programs, and otherwise qualify their communities for designation.

“The Solar Foundation is honored to have been selected for this prestigious award and is excited to leverage its years of experience in developing solar best practices and delivering assistance to communities,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “Local governments are uniquely positioned to take action to make solar more affordable in their jurisdictions and to unlock the economic development benefits associated with increased solar deployment. We look forward to assisting local governments in tackling soft cost barriers and growing their solar footprint in order to further benefit their constituents.”

“As a Solar America City, we have experienced a lot of the benefits from having Department of Energy-funded technical assistance. We look forward to future opportunities that could assist Milwaukee, and our solar program Milwaukee Shines, in growing our local solar industry,” said Mayor Tom Barrett of the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Solar Foundation’s efforts will be supported by a team of national local government membership organizations and solar energy experts, including the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Meister Consultants Group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Electric Power Research Institute, the Regulatory Assistance Project, and Brooks Engineering, LLC.

“The National Association of Counties is dedicated to building leadership and pursuing transformational new practices that will bolster counties’ ability to deliver efficient, affordable, sustainable solutions to the communities they serve,” said Matt Chase, Executive Director of NACo. “Our members are dedicated to boosting their communities’ resilience and prosperity with innovative approaches to energy services, and we look forward to expanding our efforts to empower county leaders to leverage local assets through the SPARC program.”

“By streamlining processes to make solar installations easier and cheaper, communities across the country are delivering the benefits of solar to residents and business owners,” said National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “The National League of Cities is excited to be a part of this team and to help America’s cities and towns become more solar friendly.”

Together, the team will provide technical assistance to local governments both directly and through a national program to select and place highly-qualified fellows in local governments. Fellows will provide expertise in making recommendations for policy and process improvements and temporary staff support for ensuring these solutions are fully and properly implemented. Upon selection, fellows will attend a week-long training, orientation, and networking event, followed by their deployment to communities, where each will perform a baseline assessment of the policies and processes affecting soft costs locally and devise actionable plans for qualifying the community for designation. Each fellow will be provided with competitive stipends over the four to six months of their appointment.

“The fellows are a core component of our strategy for delivering expert guidance and will provide the additional operational capacity required to make the policy and process improvements required to qualify host communities for SPARC designation,” said Philip Haddix, the TSF Program Director leading the SPARC technical assistance program. “Through their participation, fellows will receive an unparalleled opportunity to gain hands-on experience in local solar issues and become the next generation of solar policy and market leaders.”

About The Solar Foundation

The Solar Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research and education that transform markets. Since 2010, TSF has published its annual National Solar Jobs Census, which established the first credible solar jobs base line for the U.S. The Solar Foundation is considered the nation’s authority on the solar labor force and advises many organizations on the topic. TSF is also a leading provider of educational materials on the economic impacts of solar for local governments through its work with the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition, TSF chairs the National Solar Schools Consortium, a group of stakeholders seeking to make solar a larger part of the national K-12 system. Learn more at TheSolarFoundation.org

About the U.S. Department of Energy 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.

Media Contact

Andrea Luecke, TSF President and Executive Director, aluecke@solarfound.org, (202) 469-3732