New Partnership Aims to Boost Hoosier Communities’ Access to Solar

This news item is based on a press release from the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI). On October 3, ERI hosted a webinar featuring leaders from Indiana Communities that reduced barriers to solar energy through SolSmart. Participating communities included Goshen (SolSmart Gold), Richmond (SolSmart Silver), and Michigan City (SolSmart Silver), as well as the SolSmart partner organization Great Plains Institute. A recording of the webinar is available here.

Through a new partnership, Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) is helping Hoosier communities improve their solar readiness and benefit from the economic and environmental gains offered by renewable energy.

The initiative is the latest development in ERI’s collaboration with SolSmart, a national program focused on fostering solar growth in cities, towns, counties, and regional organizations across the country and administered by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International City/County Management Association.

What’s So Smart About SolSmart?

As a SolSmart engagement partner, ERI will connect Indiana local governments to no-cost technical assistance that lowers barriers to solar adoption for businesses and residents. Disadvantaged communities, rural communities, and communities that have not previously participated in SolSmart are especially being encouraged to join the program.

“Communities committed to solar are empowering residents and local businesses to take advantage of lower energy costs, increase community resilience, and participate in the fast-growing clean energy economy,” said Therese Dorau, ERI assistant director for policy and implementation. “This partnership is a natural extension of ERI’s work helping local governments take actions to become more resilient and sustainable in the face of climate change. We’re excited to help Hoosier communities get started on their SolSmart journey.”

To date, 15 Indiana local governments have received recognition as SolSmart communities, taking steps to receive a Bronze, Silver, or Gold designation. (A new Platinum designation is now available for communities looking to achieve the next level.) More than half of these communities began working with SolSmart in 2021 as members of ERI’s Resilience Cohort.

Through the program, local government staff learned how to fast-track the solar installation process for companies and residences, reduce red tape, and update zoning codes. Local government staff also received training on solar permitting and inspections, as well as advice on how to grow their local solar market.

“ERI has already been invaluable in helping Indiana’s local governments expand solar energy use, bolster their resilience, and strengthen their commitment to equity,” said Theresa Perry, Solsmart program director at IREC. “We are very pleased to welcome ERI as a SolSmart engagement partner so that even more Indiana communities can benefit from their expertise.”