Solar at Scale Guidebook

Key Project Information


U.S. Department of Energy

Period of Performance



United States

ICMA's Role

Solar@Scale aims to help cities, towns, counties, and special districts understand and realize the potential benefits of large-scale solar development.

Project Details

Over the past 15 years, technological developments have dramatically reduced the cost of installing solar photovoltaic systems in the United States, and large-scale solar projects have experienced a new surge in market share. However, despite high demand for utility-scale solar, few local governments have pursued utility-scale solar projects. In order to better understand and address this disparity, ICMA is partnering with the American Planning Association to launch a new program, Solar@Scale. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the program aims to help cities, counties, and special districts understand and realize the potential benefits of large-scale solar development.

Solar@Scale builds off recent articles in Planning (“Are You Solar Ready?”) and PAS Memo (“Planning for Utility-Scale Solar Energy Facilities”), as well as the Solar Outreach Partnership, a previous DOE-funded collaboration between APA and ICMA that provided extensive educational materials and opportunities to help cities and counties grow local solar markets. The program also builds off other DOE-funded programs managed by ICMA, including the SolSmart program, which works to help local governments reduce soft cost barriers to entering the solar market, and the Solar in Your Community Challenge designed to expand solar access to low and moderate income households.

How Solar@Scale Helps Your Community

Over the past few months, ICMA and APA have assembled stakeholders in both the private and public sector to identify strategies for overcoming common local barriers to the development of large-scale solar in communities of all sizes across the United States. Now, the Solar@Scale team is working to translate these strategies into easily digestible trainings, webinars, and workshops alongside a guidebook that outlines scalable procedures and tools for planners and local officials. Over the next few years, the team aims to train over 1,000 local government officials on how they can take advantage of opportunities in context-sensitive ways that will make large-scale solar development on private sites easier.

Solar@Scale Guidebook

The purpose of this guidebook is to help local government practitioners—including planners, economic development professionals, local government managers, and elected and appointed officials—make decisions that improve large-scale solar development outcomes.


Solar@Scale Webinar Series

The 9-part webinar series followed the publication of the guidebook and begins with an overview of the entire Solar@Scale guidebook. The following eight parts follow the topics of the eight modules in the guidebook, from understanding the market for large-scale solar development, to improving land-use decision-making, to zoning and community planning for large-scale solar. Each webinar includes real-world community examples and takeaways from a variety of speakers who work in local government and the solar industry across the nation. 


Free Hands-on Workshops

To help local officials further their understanding of large-scale solar, ICMA is conducting a series of half-day hands-on workshops based on the Solar@Scale guidebook:

  • Free training customized to your interests, issues, and specific situation.
  • Educators leading the workshop are experienced in both the science and how solar projects fit in with such local government concerns as permitting.
  • All materials included.
  • Option for remote access.

No-cost in-person workshops only require meeting space, outreach to your staff and others interested in attending, and light coordination on logistics.

Sign Up for Updates and Events

For updates regarding the guidebook's release, webinar updates, and general information about Solar@Scale, contact ICMA senior project manager, Debra Perry, at

New, Reduced Membership Dues

A new, reduced dues rate is available for CAOs/ACAOs, along with additional discounts for those in smaller communities, has been implemented. Learn more and be sure to join or renew today!