SolSmart recognizes cities and counties that remove barriers to solar development and make it faster, easier, and cheaper for local homes and businesses to go solar.
The first step for communities pursuing SolSmart designation is to establish a vision and concrete goals for the adoption of solar within the community via a formal letter of commitment and begin tracking key metrics, such as the number of systems and installed capacity. Details on requirements for the letter of commitment can be found in the designation criteria document and the “Help” sections of the online application.
Designees must meet requirements across the eight categories of the SolSmart critera. To be considered for all levels of designation, communities must meet the overall program prerequisites and points requirements in the two Foundational categories: Permitting and Planning, Zoning and Development Regulations. These prerequisites require communities to create and post a permit checklist online and conduct a review and develop a memo on existing barriers to solar in the zoning code.
Communities must then earn points by taking actions across Special Focus categories of their choice, which also encourage solar cost reductions. These categories include: Inspection, Construction Codes, Solar Rights, Utility Engagement, Community Engagement, and Market Development and Finance. Points reward actions taken to reduce soft costs and point values are related to the level of difficulty and effect the actions have on improving the local solar market. Special Awards are available for communities that have made significant achievement in any of these categories. Communities can submit ideas for additional qualifying actions, which are not listed under the existing designation criteria, to receive Innovation points. These innovative actions will be eligible for credit as determined by a panel of experts and can potentially be selected to be showcased on the SolSmart website.
To qualify for SolSmart Bronze designation, a community must meet the overall program prerequisites addressed above. Communities must earn 20 points each in the Permitting and Planning, Zoning, and Development Regulations categories and achieve an additional 20 points across all remaining categories (for a total of 60 points).
To qualify for SolSmart Silver, a community must first achieve the requirements for SolSmart Bronze. The community then must meet additional prerequisites in Planning, Zoning and Development Regulations and Inspection and earn 100 points total (i.e., 40 points beyond the Bronze level) across all categories.
To qualify for SolSmart Gold, a community must first achieve the requirements for SolSmart Silver. The community must then complete one additional prerequisite in Permitting and achieve 200 points total across all categories.