3 SolSmart Success Stories, from Rural Virginia to Metro Chicago
As a national program, SolSmart is ready to help all types of local governments go solar, from major cities to suburbs to small towns and rural counties. Every community stands to benefit from the new jobs, improved air quality, and clean energy growth that solar energy makes possible. SolSmart’s expert technical assistance team works with local officials to identify common barriers and encourage solar development.
In the short video you can watch below, we chatted with local government officials from three different regions about the benefits of going solar and achieving SolSmart designation.
Southwest Virginia is known for its coal production, but as the economy changes the region is looking to diversify its energy sources and attract new business growth. SolSmart helped eight communities in the area achieve designation and open the doors to new solar projects.
“Southwest Virginia has always been an energy producing region,” says Josh Sawyers, Town Council Member of St. Paul, Virginia. “Traditionally it’s been coal and natural gas, but as we transition to the future solar has to be part of that component as we move forward. The SolSmart program is great because it offers wonderful technical assistance for your community. It allows you to look at any shortcomings you may have or opportunities you have for improvement.”
The Chicago metropolitan area includes many suburban communities with untapped potential for solar energy growth. As a SolSmart Advisor, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus helped more than 30 of these communities collaborate and share best practices to achieve region-wide solar growth.
“The SolSmart program helped the village of Schaumburg achieve its goal by providing resources that we could use to give information to the public,” said Martha Dooley, Landscape and Sustainability Planner for the Village of Schaumburg, Illinois. “They helped us update our solar energy code, they also provided education for the village’s employees, and then they additionally helped to simplify our permitting process, making it easier for folks to install solar energy.”
“We function better when we are working with our neighbors,” said John Hucker, Mayor of the Village of Beach Park, Illinois. Using SolSmart’s collaborative approach, he said, “we could multiply our small, efficient staff’s abilities by working with other communities that had similar interests. We pooled our resources and we got it done a lot faster.”
The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a national leader that has made huge strides in expanding solar energy use through city-wide Solarize campaigns, solar training programs, and much more. SolSmart helped the city take the next step by reviewing local permitting processes that can unnecessarily hamper solar development.
“Here in Philadelphia, we knew that solar companies in the region were hesitant to do work within the city boundaries because of barriers to permitting and interconnection,” said Laura Rigell, Solar Manager for the Philadelphia Energy Authority. “The SolSmart framework provided us with a solid foundation and set of standards that we could use to streamline those processes and make Philadelphia open for solar business.”
These are just a few of the SolSmart success stories among more than 350 communities across 41 states. Contact SolSmart today to find out how your community can be next.