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SolSmart awards cities and counties points using objective criteria for removing obstacles to solar energy development. Communities that receive sufficient points are designated SolSmart Gold, Silver or Bronze.

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SolSmart Bronze Designation[60 points]
  • Public statement of solar goals via a Commitment Letter and tracking of key metrics such as number of systems and installed capacity. These goals should include the community’s intended areas of focus for the SolSmart Designation, and a commitment of staff resources.
  • Solar permit checklist posted online detailing the steps of the permitting process for solar.
  • Review of zoning requirements and identification of restrictions intentionally or unintentionally prohibiting PV development. Compile findings in a memo, and commit to reducing barriers to PV during next zoning review. Examples include height restrictions, set-back requirements, allowing solar “by-right” in residential and commercial zones without requiring a conditional use permit.
  • The community achieves at least 20 points in the Permitting, and at least 20 points in the Planning, Zoning, and Development Regulations categories.
  • The community achieves 20 points across the remaining categories.
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SolSmart Silver Designation[100 points]
  • Achieve SolSmart Bronze
  • SolSmart Silver Pre-requisite: Post an online document from the Planning/Zoning Department that states accessory use solar PV is allowed by-right in all major zones.
  • SolSmart Silver Pre-requisite: Provide cross-training for permitting and inspection staff on solar PV.
  • Communities must achieve a minimum total of 100 points across all categories.
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SolSmart Gold Designation[200 points]
  • Achieve SolSmart Silver.
  • SolSmart Gold Pre-Requisite: Streamlined permitting pathway for small PV systems with turn-around time at or below 3 days.
  • SolSmart Gold Pre-Requisite: Communities must achieve a minimum total of 200 points across all categories.
  • SolSmart Gold Pre-Requisite: Codify in the zoning ordinance that accessory use solar PV is explicitly allowed by-right in all major zones.
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Special Awards and Innovation
  • Communities can submit their own proposals for innovative activities to be considered for points in a particular category. These proposals will be reviewed by a technical committee for consideration for points on a quarterly basis. A single innovative action cannot earn more than 20 points. All innovative actions cannot contribute more than 50 points to a community’s score.
  • Communities which complete 60% of points in a particular special focus category will be eligible for a special award (e.g. Award for Excellence in Planning, Zoning, and Development Regulations).
  • If communities are involved with and/or have implemented processes at a regional level, these can be counted towards a community’s score if documentation is provided. For example, if a community participated in a regional Solarize program, energy task force, or has engaged with utilities as part of a group effort, these actions could earn points if documented.

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