Last week, SolSmart attended the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) 84th Annual Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event welcomed nearly 3,000 county officials. The objective of the conference was for elected county officials to share opinions on how they work to realize their goals of fostering healthy, safe and vibrant counties across America.
The three-day conference was a great opportunity for the SolSmart team to meet staff from designated communities in person and congratulate them on their solar efforts. Representatives from Will County, Illinois; Charleston County, South Carolina; Loudoun County, Virginia; Summit County, Utah; Palm Beach County, Florida; and Johnson County, Kansas stopped by the SolSmart booth for photographs.
Despite the 110-degree weather, representatives from Klamath County, Oregon, and Miami Dade County, Florida, made it to the Las Vegas sign to proudly display their community’s commitment to solar energy. The famous Las Vegas sign is 100 percent powered by solar energy. The 60-year-old neon sign is powered by three free-standing “solar trees” that are installed just south of the sign.
NACo hosted a session on the best practices for installing and using community solar projects. Stephen Treat from the Cadmus Group moderated this session and introduced the SolSmart program to the audience. The speakers on the panel were Erica Bjelland from Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, Tom Figel from GRID Alternatives, and Lynn Padgett from San Miguel County, Colorado.
Ms. Padgett spoke about San Miguel County’s SolSmart designation and how it has been instrumental in initiating solar development in the county. County officials in the audience also expressed the challenges they have experienced with their utilities with respect to solar development. There was an acknowledgement amongst the attendees that for solar development to foster in their respective communities, collaboration between local government and utilities is paramount.
Jack Morgan from NACo discussed the benefits of SolSmart designation which include advancing streamlined permiting, promoting community solar and assisting communities in demonstrating solar best practices. He announced the program’s county designees since March. To date SolSmart has designated over 60 counties nationwide.