SolSmart is recognizing seven new communities as national leaders for cutting red tape and making solar energy more affordable and accessible.
Two cities received the highest designation of SolSmart Gold: Louisville, Kentucky and New York, New York. Also, five communities were designated SolSmart Bronze: Maricopa County, Arizona; Moab, Utah; Plano, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Summit County, Utah.
Three other communities achieved a higher designation after they were previously designated SolSmart Bronze. Denver, Colorado is now designated as SolSmart Gold, while Charleston County, South Carolina and Pinecrest, Florida are now SolSmart Silver.
“Today, we are recognizing these communities for removing barriers to solar energy development and lowering costs for homes and businesses,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation. “The solar industry is also one of the nation’s leading sources of job growth, and promoting solar energy use is a fantastic way to build strong local communities.”
A total of 36 communities have now received SolSmart designation since the program was launched in 2016, representing 21.8 million people in 18 states. SolSmart designation recognizes communities for taking steps to reduce the cost of solar energy and becoming “open for solar business.”
“We are thrilled to achieve Gold designation in the SolSmart program. Solar power has become very cost effective and our citizens are eager to harness the sun’s energy in their homes and businesses,” said Maria Koetter, Director of the Louisville Metro Office of Sustainability. “Through participating in the SolSmart program, we now have a clear-cut process for permitting and installing solar panels.”
“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, LLC. “When we entered the city’s solar 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 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.”
The National League of Cities is honoring the cities and towns receiving designation at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference, which takes place March 11-15 in Washington, D.C. The National Association of Counties also honored the two counties receiving designation at a recent Washington, D.C. legislative conference.
“Cities are leading the way on solar deployment and driving our country toward a sustainable future,” said Matt Zone, president of the National League of Cities and councilmember on the Cleveland City Council. “As a proud SolSmart partner, the National League of Cities congratulates the new designees on their achievement and we look forward to empowering more communities to expand their local solar markets.”
“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). “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.”
Communities achieve SolSmart designation by reducing solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Soft costs represent up to two-thirds of the cost of an installed residential system.
The SolSmart designation team, led by ICMA, awards communities points based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. Based on the number of points they receive, communities are designated either gold, silver, or bronze. Cities and counties receiving a silver or bronze designation have the opportunity to increase their point total and move up to the gold tier in the future.
A team of national solar experts led by The Solar Foundation offers no-cost technical assistance to help participating cities and counties achieve designation. In addition, eleven communities have been selected to host SolSmart Advisors, fully-funded temporary staff who provide personalized, hands-on assistance to communities for up to six months. The next round of communities to host SolSmart Advisors will be announced in the coming weeks.
All US cities and counties are eligible to join SolSmart and receive no-cost technical assistance to achieve designation. Communities can begin the process by visiting SolSmart.org.