SolSmart Introduces the 2018 City and County Challenge for Solar Energy

Local governments play a fundamental role in shaping energy choices in their communities. To help them make informed decisions, SolSmart is encouraging cities and counties to apply for the 2018 SolSmart City and County Challenge for Solar Energy. This exciting opportunity, which is administered by the National League of Cities (NLC) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), will allow the prize recipients to influence the success of solar energy development in their respective communities and move toward designation as SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze.

This year, SolSmart is offering brand-new prize opportunities for local governments seeking to install solar on their facilities or land. Cities and counties can enter to win any or all of the following advanced solar technical assistance options:
• A “techno-economic analysis” for solar installations on up to five community sites; and/or
• Drafting and/or review of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for municipal solar installations; and/or
• Guidance on how to customize a model Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for municipal solar installations.

The “techno-economic analysis,” generated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will examine technical performance and financial considerations for proposed solar installations to help a community better understand the costs and benefits of proposed solar projects.

There are two categories for entry based on city or county size: 1) small cities or counties with a population of 100,000 or fewer, and 2) large cities or counties with populations greater than 100,000. Four winners will be selected – a city and county from each category – based on a review by a three-person committee that will weigh the feasibility of the request, demonstrated need, and impact.

The Challenge will run until Friday, September 14, 2018. Interested cities and counties must submit the following items to Zach Greene (, SolSmart Program Director, to be considered:

1) A Solar Statement that demonstrates the city or county’s commitment to pursue SolSmart designation.

2) A 1-page memo explaining the advanced solar technical assistance request, which includes:
• Desired prize(s) of the 3 advanced solar technical assistance options outlined above
• Details of the proposed solar project location(s) and operational use(s) (e.g. a ground-mounted system at a police station, a roof-mounted system at a library, etc.);
• Reason for selecting the site(s); and
• Desired outcome/impact of the solar project for the city or county.

SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program for local governments funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The program promotes the use of best practices by local governments to streamline solar processes and increase affordability and accessibility for residents and businesses. All communities can access no-cost technical assistance, even outside of this Challenge. To date, SolSmart has over 200 designees who have achieved SolSmart designation for fostering the growth of local solar markets in their cities and counties.

Please note: the 2018 SolSmart City and County Challenge is open to new submissions only. Cities and counties that submitted a SolSmart application prior to July 16, 2018, are not eligible to participate and receive prizes. Existing SolSmart designees, resubmissions, SolSmart Early Adopter Communities, and communities with a SolSmart Advisor are also ineligible for the SolSmart City and County Challenge. Even if your community is not eligible, however, we encourage you to share this challenge with any neighboring community that might be interested!