Since 2016, the SolSmart Program has recognized more than 390 cities and counties nationwide for taking key steps to encourage solar development in their communities. Administered by ICMA and The Solar Foundation, SolSmart provides no-cost technical assistance to help local governments streamline their permitting, update zoning and planning processes, and implement best practices to make it faster, easier, and more affordable for residents and businesses to go solar.

This year, after several months of review, the SolSmart team is excited to announce the release of improved criteria along with an updated program guide that will better assist applicants. The new criteria now span five categories: Permitting & Inspection; Planning & Zoning, Government Operations; Community Engagement; and Market Development. The updated version of the criteria also includes several new actions that communities can choose from as they pursue SolSmart Bronze, Silver, and Gold designations. These new criteria include actions such as: 

  • Exempt or waive fees for residential solar PV permit applications.  
  • Post an online checklist detailing the required permit(s), submittals, and steps of your community’s energy storage system permitting process 
  • Ensure the zoning ordinance includes a native perennial vegetation and/or habitat-friendly ground cover requirement or standard for large-scale solar PV. 

Based on national best practices from leading solar communities and experts, SolSmart criteria encourages solar energy growth, reduces barriers to solar energy deployment, and makes it possible for more homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Communities currently working on their application with SolSmart will have the option to continue with the legacy criteria or apply with the updated criteria.SolSmart

In addition to the updated criteria, the SolSmart team improved the program guide. The guide now provides a comprehensive overview of the program and a slew of information for each credit. Each credit includes background information and intent of the credit, community examples, templates, and additional resources. Previously, program participants had to refer to both the program guide and a verification appendix; now participants will find all information in the program guide.

Join SolSmart to prime your area for solar energy, regardless of your local government size or level of solar energy experience. visit to start a consultation today.

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