By adopting solar friendly practices, like streamlining the permitting process and providing online resources for local solar development, communities position themselves for greater solar investment opportunities. A new SunShot funded program aims to capitalize on this effort by recognizing communities who make it faster and easier to go solar.
Called SolSmart, this new program evolved from SunShot’s Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC) funding program. SolSmart encourages city and county governments throughout the United States to improve local solar policies and processes and recognizes them for their efforts. Participation not only helps to reduce the soft costs of going solar, but it signals that these communities are “open for solar business,” which can help to spur solar adoption, create jobs, and boost local economies. More than 300 communities will have the opportunity to receive one of three designations—bronze, silver, or gold—and will be nationally recognized for their participation.
If a community wants to pursue SolSmart designation but doesn’t have the resources or knowledge to reach the bronze or silver participation levels, they’re eligible for no-cost technical assistance. If communities need more extended, in-person support to achieve the SolSmart designation, they can apply to host a SolSmart Advisor. These fully-funded, temporary staff members will travel to 40 communities, helping to ensure that everyone has a chance to succeed in the new program.
The program has already named 35 communities from Santa Monica, CA to Columbia, MO and Burlington, VT as Early Adopters. The SolSmart team has provided these communities with no-cost technical assistance to help them reduce barriers to solar deployment and get a jump start on achieving SolSmart designation. So far, communities in more than 20 states across the country have applied to become SolSmart and the team expects to announce the first designations later this summer.