Published on April 28th, 2016 | by Dawn Killough
SolSmart Helps Communities Reduce Solar Energy Costs
The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and The Solar Foundation (TSF) recently announced the launch of the SolSmart designation program, a program to help communities advertise their solar energy-friendliness. SolSmart will also provide cities and counties with no-cost technical assistance to help them streamline and reduce solar energy costs in their area.
SolSmart Advisors, fully-funded temporary staff that will be embedded in up to 40 communities to help them achieve designation, will provide no-cost technical assistance to assist in cutting the red tape around going solar and make it possible for more American homes and businesses to use solar energy to meet their electricity needs.
The SolSmart program seeks to address solar “soft costs,” which are business processes or administrative costs that can increase the time and money it takes for residents or businesses to install a solar power system.
Local governments are in a unique position to both reduce these costs and to promote the use of solar in their jurisdictions.
The SolSmart designation will signal that a community is “open for [solar] business,” helping to attract local economic development and create solar jobs.
“Our city has worked hard to make solar more affordable and easier for our residents and small businesses to install,” said City Manager Scott Wingerson of Gladstone, Missouri. “We have seen firsthand how our actions have led to considerable social and economic benefits locally.”
“The solar panels that have been installed at our water treatment plant have served to partially offset the annual utility costs at this facility. Solar gives us another tool to help manage operational costs. SolSmart presents cities and counties nationwide with an opportunity to realize similar benefits and I encourage every community to join Gladstone and get involved.”
SolSmart offers three levels of designation – Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Communities can earn points to achieve designation tiers by taking action across eight categories.
To achieve designation, communities must meet minimum requirements pertaining to two main categories: (1) permitting, and (2) planning, zoning, and development regulations. SolSmart communities then have flexibility in achieving the remaining points toward designation in six special-focus categories.
ICMA will lead the effort to designate communities under SolSmart by reviewing applications and determining whether a community meets the criteria for designation. Communities that apply and do not reach the base designation level will be referred to The Solar Foundation and their team to receive no-cost technical assistance from SolSmart Advisors to help the community reduce solar energy costs and qualify for designation.
“The Solar Foundation and its technical assistance partners have extensive experience working with communities to implement best practices,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation.
“We look forward to collaborating with local governments on SolSmart to tackle soft cost barriers and establish robust solar markets. Additionally, we are excited to roll out the SolSmart Advisors program, and encourage all communities pursuing designation to apply to host an Advisor by mid-June.”
For more information on the program, or to apply for assistance, visit SolSmart.org.
Source and Graphic: SolSmart, DepositPhotos