SolSmart awards cities and counties points using objective criteria for removing obstacles to solar energy development. Communities that receive sufficient points are designated SolSmart Gold, Silver or Bronze.
SolSmart Bronze Designation[60 points]
- Public statement of solar goals via a Commitment Letter and tracking of key metrics such as number of systems and installed capacity. These goals should include the community’s intended areas of focus for the SolSmart Designation, and a commitment of staff resources.
- Solar permit checklist posted online detailing the steps of the permitting process for solar.
- Review of zoning requirements and identification of restrictions intentionally or unintentionally prohibiting PV development. Compile findings in a memo, and commit to reducing barriers to PV during next zoning review. Examples include height restrictions, set-back requirements, allowing solar “by-right” in residential and commercial zones without requiring a conditional use permit.
- The community achieves at least 20 points in the Permitting, and at least 20 points in the Planning, Zoning, and Development Regulations categories.
- The community achieves 20 points across the remaining categories.
SolSmart Silver Designation[100 points]
- Achieve SolSmart Bronze
- SolSmart Silver Pre-requisite: Allow accessory use solar by-right in all major zones, and implement any zoning ordinance adjustments identified through the zoning review to improve solar-friendliness.
- SolSmart Silver Pre-requisite: Provide cross-training for permitting and inspection staff on solar PV.
- Communities must achieve a minimum total of 100 points across all categories.
SolSmart Gold Designation[200 points]
- Achieve SolSmart Silver.
- SolSmart Gold Pre-Requisite: Streamlined permitting pathway for small PV systems with turn-around time at or below 3 days.
- SolSmart Gold Pre-Requisite: Communities must achieve a minimum total of 200 points across all categories.
Special Awards and Innovation
- Communities can submit their own proposals for innovative activities to be considered for points in a particular category. These proposals will be reviewed by a technical committee for consideration for points on a quarterly basis. A single innovative action cannot earn more than 20 points. All innovative actions cannot contribute more than 50 points to a community’s score.
- Communities which complete 60% of points in a particular special focus category will be eligible for a special award (e.g. Award for Excellence in Planning, Zoning, and Development Regulations).
- If communities are involved with and/or have implemented processes at a regional level, these can be counted towards a community’s score if documentation is provided. For example, if a community participated in a regional Solarize program, energy task force, or has engaged with utilities as part of a group effort, these actions could earn points if documented.