Located in California’s East Bay area, Fremont has long been a leader in solar-friendly policies. The city’s work has already made a big impact, seeing solar deployment double in the last four years. Now, through DOE’s national recognition and technical assistance program, SolSmart, Fremont is the first-ever local government to earn SolSmart’s new Platinum designation, which acknowledges local governments for prioritizing solar energy in their communities.
SolSmart recognizes local governments across the country for adopting solar-friendly policies and encouraging solar energy deployment. Last year, SolSmart expanded to include a Platinum-level designation, which requires among other things, that communities adopt a platform, such as SolarAPP+, that automates residential solar permitting for local governments.
"DOE congratulates the city of Fremont on being the first-ever SolSmart platinum designee and commends the city for prioritizing clean energy for its residents--including automated permitting with the adoption of SolarAPP+," said Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. "DOE encourages cities throughout the country to take advantage of the assistance SolSmart provides to enable American homes and businesses to better access affordable and clean solar energy."
In order to achieve SolSmart Platinum designation, the city of Fremont:
- Adopted instant permitting using SolarAPP+.
- Posted public metrics and numerous online resources for residents interested in adding solar to their homes.
- Installed solar PV on multiple city-owned properties.
- Developed community partnerships to equitably expand solar in the city by leveraging funds from foundations and state government. That included partnerships with affordable housing developers and groups such as ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability and Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley.
In line with the Justice40 initiative, SolSmart emphasizes the importance of just and equitable deployment of solar in low-income and disadvantaged communities, which tend to have higher household energy burden, environmental and climate impacts, and socio-economic vulnerabilities. SolSmart aims to have at least 40% of all new designees be underserved communities.
"Fremont's achievement of the SolSmart Platinum designation marks a significant milestone in our commitment to a sustainable and clean energy future," said Fremont Mayor Lily Mei. "By actively promoting the adoption of renewable energy and streamlining the solar permitting process, we are empowering our community to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions and advancing our vision towards a climate ready Fremont. This remarkable designation is a credit not only to our dedicated city staff but also to the unwavering commitment and active participation of our incredible community. Together, we stand proud of this extraordinary achievement, which showcases the collective effort and shared vision of a brighter, greener future for all."
"Fremont has embraced best practices that make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar," said Brandy O'Quinn, program director for SolSmart at IREC. "Their focus on equity as part of the clean energy transition, including creative partnerships that are improving the lives of all residents, makes them stand out as a national leader."
As other communities look to expand solar energy within their jurisdictions, the city of Fremont offers a bright example to follow.
To date, the program has helped more than 500 cities, towns, counties, and regional organizations in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. SolSmart is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).
Any city, town, county, or regional organization is eligible to join the SolSmart program and work toward Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum designation. Learn more about achieving SolSmart designation.