Today (Sept. 26) SolSmart announced that 22 communities across the US achieved SolSmart status from the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. The program recognizes cities, towns and counties for making it faster, easier and cheaper to go solar largely by reducing the “soft costs” or non-material costs of going solar.
Of the awardees, the majority, 14, achieved gold status for taking significant steps to reduce costs of going solar. One, Boulder County, achieved silver status and the remaining seven achieved bronze status under the recognition program.
The program was developed by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICCMA) to help communities make it easier for their residents to go solar by streamlining processes like permitting, inspection, financing options and approval. “A SolSmart designation signals that a community is ‘open for solar business,’ helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs,” explained ICCMA’s Emily Sparks and The Solar Foundation’s Philip Haddix, who are spearheading the program. It is the latest in a series of programs aiming to help speed the deployment of local solar power, like the Solar Friendly Communities recognition program, but with more support, after all, SolSmart has up to 40 employees that are able to help municipalities make it easier to go solar.
“Local governments have a huge role to play in advancing solar energy development,” Haddix and Sparks wrote in a piece about the initial designations. “Solar soft costs can represent up to two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. By taking the initiative to cut red tape and streamline local processes, communities can reduce soft costs and make solar significantly more affordable for homes and businesses.” The first round of gold designees include Austin; four municipalities in California: Freemont, San Carlos, Santa Monica and Santa Rosa; two in Colorado: Fort Collins and the City of Boulder (the county achieved silver status); Hartford, CT; Satellite Beach FL; Minneapolis; two in Missouri: Columbia and Kansas City; and Milwaukee, WI. The municipalities that achieved bronze are Claremont and Redwood City, CA; Denver, St. Paul, MN; Somerville, MA; Philadelphia; and Burlington.
“While we’re excited to honor the 22 designees today, it’s important to note that we consider this announcement only the beginning,” Haddix and Sparks said. “SolSmart aims to designate at least 300 communities over the course of the three-year program. As we work with cities and counties to provide no-cost technical assistance, we hope and expect that your community will join the SolSmart designees soon.”Tweet