More communities than ever are using solar energy thanks in part to a program that makes it easier for local governments to make the switch to sun. The Great Plains Institute (GPI) led the Upper Midwest cohort of communities seeking SolSmart designation, the largest in the nation. Working with Clean Energy Resource Teams, Metropolitan Council, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, and Winneshiek Energy District, communities across Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are now designated as “solar ready.”
- Created an online permitting checklist, increasing transparency for community members and solar installers.
- Reviewed local zoning codes and identified restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit solar PV development
- Allowed solar by-right accessory use in all zones (so solar installations don’t require special permits or hearings)
- Cross-trained both inspection and permitting staff on solar PV