SolSmart recognized seven new cities and counties for their work to reduce the soft cost barriers that limit solar market growth. Soft costs, or non-hardware investments like attaining proper permits to install solar arrays and connect them to the grid, now represent up to two-thirds of the cost of an installed residential system. SolSmart is a campaign supported by the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to reduce such barriers.
“Technological advances are making renewable energy resources more affordable and local governments around the world are paying attention,” said David Grossman, director of global programs at the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). ICMA leads the program. “Through this designation program, cities and counties across the U.S. are demonstrating their commitment to installing clean energy systems in their pursuit of sustainable communities.”
The SolSmart team awarded participating communities with points based on how each cuts the red-tape of installing rooftop solar. The points determine each community’s designation as a gold, silver or bronze SolSmart community. Communities can then add to their point total to move up to gold tier status in future. Since SolSmart’s inception, 36 communities in 18 states have received SolSmart designations. Each participating community received no-cost technical assistance to help achieve the designation.
This year, Louisville, KY, and New York City were recognized as gold SolarSmart cities for the first time. The program also recognized five communities as bronze SolSmart communities for the first time. They were from Maricopa County, AZ; Moab, Utah; Plano, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah and Summit County, Utah. Other communities improved their status as SolSmart communities. Denver moved from silver to gold, while Charleston County, SC, and Pinecrest, FL, moved up to SolSmart Silver.
“The SolSmart Gold designation recognizes that New York City is a great place for solar companies to do business,” said David Buckner, president of Solar Energy Systems. “When we entered the city’s solar PV market in 2002, we identified plenty of barriers, including unruly regulations, high system costs, and a lack of customer awareness. We have worked with the City University of New York (CUNY) and other installers and advocacy groups over the years to identify and erase many of the hurdles related to permitting, interconnection, and customer uptake. Today, New York City is one of the largest, most advanced solar markets in the country.”Tweet