WASHINGTON, D.C.—SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, will recognize seven new communities as national leaders for cutting red tape, making solar energy more affordable and accessible, and becoming “open for solar business.” The communities will be honored on March 13 in Washington, D.C.
Two cities will receive the highest designation of SolSmart Gold: Louisville, Kentucky and New York, New York. Five other communities also will be designated as SolSmart Bronze: Maricopa County, Arizona; Moab, Utah; Plano, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Summit County, Utah.
“Today, we recognize 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.”
“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 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.”
To date a total of 36 communities representing 21.8 million people in 18 states have received SolSmart designation since the program was launched in 2016. Three other communities moved up to a higher designation after they were previously designated SolSmart Bronze. Denver, Colorado moved up to SolSmart Gold, and Charleston County, South Carolina,and Pinecrest, Florida,moved up to SolSmart Silver.
“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.”
The National League of Cities will honor the cities and towns receiving designation at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference, which takes place this week in Washington, D.C. The National Association of Counties also honored the two counties receiving designation at their 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.”
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 will 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 periods of up to six months. The next round of communities to host SolSmart Advisors will be announced in the coming weeks.
All U.S. 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.
SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Learn more at SolSmart.org.
About The Solar Foundation
The Solar Foundationâ is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate adoption of the world’s most abundant energy source. Through its leadership, research, and capacity building, The Solar Foundation creates transformative solutions to achieve a prosperous future in which solar technology is integrated into all aspects of our lives. Visit us at TheSolarFoundation.org.
ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, advances professional local government management worldwide. Its mission is to create excellence in local governance by developing and advancing professional management to create sustainable communities that improve lives worldwide. The management decisions made by ICMA’s members affect millions of individuals living in thousands of communities, from small villages and towns to large metropolitan areas.
About the SunShot Initiative
The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity and support solar adoption. SunShot aims to make solar energy a low cost electricity source for all Americans through research and development efforts in collaboration with public and private partners. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.