SolSmart Presents at the Sustainable States Network Conference

By Brian Ross, Great Plains Institute Vice President, Renewable Energy

The Great Plains Institute, a liaison for the SolSmart program in the Midwest, presented the SolSmart program to the annual Sustainable States Network (SSN) conference in May, and facilitated discussions about how SSN programs can integrate SolSmart into their work.

The SSN is a coalition of state- and regional-level programs that assist cities and local governments with sustainability and climate initiatives. The network covers 15 states with over 2,000 participating communities, making it the largest coalition of local government technical assistance programs in the nation. SSN is managed by the Great Plains Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a mission to transform the energy system to benefit the economy and environment. The Great Plains Institute acts as SSN’s fiscal sponsor.

Some SSN programs, like Sustainable Jersey and Sustainable Connecticut, already recognize SolSmart certification as a demonstration of solar readiness and include SolSmart designation as a component of their own climate certification process. Those programs, plus others that serve solely as recruitment partners, like Minnesota’s GreenStep Cities, are invaluable in helping more communities become solar ready through SolSmart.

“The SolSmart program provides a clear framework for municipalities to encourage residential solar deployment by making the solar permitting process clear and simple,” said Jessica LeClair, a Senior Program Director at Sustainable CT.

At the conference in Buffalo, New York this year, SSN programs in Indiana, California, New York, and Maryland expressed interest in becoming more involved with SolSmart recruitment. GPI will continue to develop relationships with these organizations to help more communities capture their solar energy reserves and create clear and transparent pathways for solar installation.

“Small towns of just a few thousand residents, to some of our larger cities, have taken advantage of this no-cost opportunity, simplifying their solar permitting processes, all while earning points in our statewide Sustainable CT certification program,” LeClair said.