SolSmart is a national designation program designed to recognize communities that have taken key steps to address local barriers to solar energy and foster the growth of mature local solar markets.
Are you ready to become SolSmart? You can schedule a consultation with a technical expert, or use our online form to complete and submit your application.
Energy task forces or sustainability committees keep residents and key stakeholders actively engaged in community energy policy and development. These working groups can also assist in leading community-based solar initiatives and provide guidance for communication and outreach strategies for solar initiatives to reach the entire community.
Resources and Examples:
Solar landing pages can serve as resources for both the public and solar installers on local solar markets and regulations. Some information communities have commonly included are information on local regulation, active area non-profits and information existing installed capacity.
Non-profit facilities, affordable housing developments and community centers can enable a diverse set of consumers to interact and directly and indirectly benefit from solar. Installations on non-profits have traditionally occurred at lower rates because these installations cannot take advantage of federal or state tax incentives. Local incentives can improve the feasibility of these installations.
Local governments can support or host community group purchase programs for solar energy. Bulk purchasing can reduce the costs of solar installations for community members. These limited time-offers have had consistent success in providing discounts of up to 20% of installed costs for residential systems.
An engaged and informed community can encourage solar market growth and increase the likelihood that local homes and businesses will pursue solar and generate energy savings. In addition to conducting outreach, local governments can partner with local sustainability organizations, community development corporations, solar installers and other stakeholders to increase the impact of outreach programs.
Solar jobs have grown 12 times faster than the U.S. economy since 2014. Local governments can encourage community colleges or reach out to government training initiatives such as Solar Ready Vets to engage residents. As local solar markets grow, local governments can ensure community colleges are aware of job opportunities with local installers and solar industry stakeholders.
Solar energy development can revitalize otherwise vacant or under-utilized land and generate revenue for local governments. These can also serve as important educational and outreach sites for community schools. Some states and the Environmental Protection Agency have developed guidance documents and prioritized brownfield solar development.
Install or lease land for solar PV development on brownfields, landfills, formerly contaminated lands and/or other under-utilized properties.
Regional planning councils and other organizations can facilitate regional coordination on solar. These organizations can lead unified permitting or building code updates for PV across multiple jurisdictions or counties, and are also well-suited to foster bulk purchasing initiatives for municipal solar.
Local governments can provide an important voice into state-level renewable energy policy development, including Clean Power Plan implementation, renewable energy goals and incentives. Government staff can track policy developments actively and develop appropriate strategies to interact with state activity.
Solar maps are a resource which can provide residents with a rough feasibility assessment of solar on their rooftops. Maps can also show the locations of municipal solar installations and connect users with local installers.
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