Designation Level: SolSmart Gold
Year Designated: 2017
Located in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona, Pima County is host to 350 days of sunshine annually. Given its geography and climate, Pima County has capitalized on the sun as a natural asset and has emerged as a national leader in advancing solar energy. The steps that the county has taken to incorporate solar—including committing to local green building standards, creating incentive zones for solar and streamlining the solar inspection processes—led to the county being awarded the SolSmart Gold designation in July 2017.
- 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
- Created a streamlined process to approve certain solar permit applications over the counter
Pima County has for years been proactive and forward-looking on sustainability issues. We adopted the first Sustainable Action Plan for county operations in 2008, and were a leader in establishing Renewable Energy Incentive Districts to promote large-scale solar installations because we recognize the need to minimize our dependence on energy sources that rely on fossil fuels. Through fee waivers and other incentives, we will continue to promote renewable and alternative energy sources in our county operations and throughout Pima County.
- Sharon Bronson, Pima County Supervisor