Designation Level: SolSmart Gold
Year Designated: 2016
- Installed solar on local facilities, including a 2 kW array on The Columbia Area Career Center
- Hosted solar workshops to inform the Columbia community about the benefits of solar
- Established partnerships with local non-profits on solar. For example, the city supported Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to build Columbia’s first solar-powered “net-zero” home
- Columbia Water and Light’s rebate program pays customers whose solar panels contribute to the grid.
- 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
- Provided a streamlined permitting pathway for small PV systems
The city hopes the technical help [from SolSmart] will allow Columbia to expand its solar power initiative and bring in new jobs. The city has seen a 55 percent increase in solar power usage since it began its initiative, with a total of around 90 businesses and homes in Columbia now using solar power.
- Connie Kacprowicz, spokesperson for the city of Columbia