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.
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Navigating local solar markets and incentives policies can be complex. Providing relevant local information on active installers, financing options and incentive programs can assist community members as they consider their own installations.
Resources and Examples:
Key solar metrics such as total installed capacity can help communicate progress towards state and local renewable energy goals. Other related metrics could include the percentage of municipal energy provided by renewable generators, installed capacity per capita and progress towards greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Many different financing options are available for residential and commercial PV. Local governments can play an important role in providing access to neutral information about available options.
Local governments can generate energy savings from installed solar PV on their facilities. The first step in going solar on public facilities is conducting feasibility assessment to discover which rooftops or grounds have the highest solar potential. Municipalities can then issue RFPs for solar projects to complete work.
Local governments can lead by example by installing solar on municipal facilities or leasing land for solar development. Solar installations can generate revenue for local governments, deliver energy savings and serve as an educational tool for community members.
PACE financing is an on-bill financing mechanism which enables repayment of long-term, low-interest loans on property tax bills. PACE must be enabled at the state and local level. Residential and commercial programs exist around the country to finance renewable and efficiency investments.
In addition to state and federal incentives, local governments can also encourage solar development within their jurisdictions. In addition to providing local rebates or incentives, some jurisdictions have enabled community finance through revolving loan funds or credit enhancement facilities for renewable energy projects. These actions can help lower the cost of solar for residents.
Loans can provide a lower cost of capital for solar installations. Local lenders are critical source of capital within communities, but often these organizations have not provided funds for residential PV. Local governments can serve an important role in facilitating conversations and educating lenders about solar market growth and local trends.
The reference for the installed capacity per capita is state data from March 2016 the Solar Market Insights Report from GreenTech Media and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Per capita installed capacity metrics exceeding 99 watts/person represent market leadership by local governments.
Solar can provide unique benefits when paired with other distributed energy solutions and emerging technologies. In example, pairing solar and storage can provide deeper energy savings to host-sites through demand-charge reductions. Solar can also offset increases in load from plug-in electric vehicles.
Solar can provide emergency power to critical infrastructure facilities, and serve as back-up generation. To date, local governments have leveraged distributed PV and storage to provide lighting for evacuation routes, power to shelters, and extend the fuel supply of diesel generation.
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