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News

SolSmart Reaches New Milestone With 400 Designees!

The SolSmart program has reached an exciting new milestone: Over 400 municipalities, counties, and regional organizations have achieved designation! SolSmart communities can be found in 41 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, representing a total of 99 million people.

The 400 SolSmart designees have reduced obstacles to solar energy, expanded local knowledge, and increased solar deployment in their communities. Here are just a few examples of what SolSmart designees have achieved:

  • As the first U.S territory to achieve SolSmart designation, the U.S. Virgin Islands developed and implemented a streamlined, web-based distributed solar generation permitting portal.
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan launched a Solarize campaign in 2020 that led to 1 MW of residential solar installed, a four-fold increase from the prior year.
  • In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, solar energy has been taking off after state policies made it easier for residents to go solar. The number of residential permits increased from only one in 2017 to 160 in 2020.
  • Pulaski County, Virginia worked with SolSmart to streamline permitting and zoning processes to make it easier for residences and business to go solar. This year, the county approved a 300 MW utility scale solar project that would be one of the largest on the Eastern Seaboard.
  • Fairfax County, Virginia is ramping up for a major expansion of solar energy on county buildings, including over 120 government facilities, park facilities, and schools.
  • The North Central Texas Council of Governments is helping communities across the Dallas-Fort Worth region go solar by providing widespread outreach and educational resources through the website GoSolarTexas.org.

Read our community fact sheet to learn more about SolSmart designees and their accomplishments.

New Research Shows Impact on Solar Market

We’re also pleased to share the results of a new third-party evaluation of the SolSmart program. This research shows that SolSmart provides significant benefits to participating communities and has measurable impacts on the solar market.

The research from Missouri University of Science & Technology, Florida State University, University of Miami, and University of Texas at Austin found that SolSmart designees added between 300-450 MW of solar capacity and 12,800-19,200 new installations nationwide. This translates the $10 million in taxpayer funds for SolSmart into $1-2 billion in additional solar investment.

The study also found that SolSmart speeds up the permit process for solar installations by 7.5 days on average. In addition, local governments and industry officials say one of the largest impacts of the SolSmart program has been increased local knowledge about solar energy.

To learn more about this research, you can read the Research Insights report or view a presentation on the results.

How SolSmart Can Help Your Community

All municipalities, counties, and regional organizations in the United States are eligible to join the SolSmart program. We offer no-cost technical assistance to help your community meet the SolSmart criteria to make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar. Technical assistance from national experts is available at no cost to the community.

Read our SolSmart fact sheet to learn more about the program. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today.

In Their Own Words

“Across the nation, SolSmart is helping communities reduce costs, shorten permit waiting times, and expand solar energy installations. The success of this program shows that local governments have taken the lead in setting ambitious solar energy goals that boost economic development, sustainability, and job growth.” Larry Sherwood, Administrator of The Solar Foundation and  President and CEO of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)

“SolSmart is an asset to local governments across the country as we continue to strive towards more resilient, sustainable, and economically buoyant communities. With SolSmart’s support, hundreds of cities and counties are now seeing significant growth in renewable energy and the economic benefits that come with it, including a larger job market.” Marc Ott, CEO and executive director of the International City/County Management Association

“The impact of the historic Winter Storm Uri in the Southern United States highlighted the importance of solar energy as a tool for resiliency. SolSmart is helping cities and counties reduce barriers and develop a pathway for the accelerated use of solar. As a designated regional organization, we’ve been proud to help communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth region achieve their goals through SolSmart designation and to educate communities on the benefits that solar energy can offer.” Lori Clark, Program Manager at the North Central Texas Council of Governments