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News

Updated SolSmart Criteria and Program Guide Released

The SolSmart program updated the standard pathway criteria by improving language and ensuring the criteria reflects the most up-to-date national best practices. SolSmart’s standard designation criteria now spans five categories: Permitting & Inspection; Planning & Zoning, Government Operations; Community Engagement; and Market Development. The updated version of the criteria now includes 75 actions that can help cities and towns become “solar-ready.” Communities currently working on their application with SolSmart will have the option to continue with the legacy criteria or apply with the updated criteria.

What’s Changed  

The updated criteria include several new actions that communities can choose from as they pursue SolSmart Bronze, Silver, and Gold designations. These new criteria include actions such as: 

  • Exempt or waive fees for residential solar PV permit applications.  
  • Post an online checklist detailing the required permit(s), submittals, and steps of your community’s energy storage system permitting process 
  • Ensure the zoning ordinance includes a native perennial vegetation and/or habitat-friendly ground cover requirement or standard for large-scale solar PV. 

The most significant changes from the previous SolSmart criteria are the additions of Government Operations as a new category and combining Permitting and Inspection categories. For streamlining purposes, Construction Codes, Solar Rights and Utility Engagement categories have been removed and the criteria has been reassigned to other categories. We also added considerable credits related to large scale solar and storage. There were no changes to the required points for each designation level. Click here to learn more about the criteria.

Updated Program Guide 

In addition to the updated criteria, the SolSmart team improved the Program Guide to become a more inclusive, standalone document. The guide now provides a comprehensive overview of the program and a slew of information for each credit. Each credit includes background information and intent of the credit, community examples, templates, and additional resources. Previously, program participants had to refer to both the program guide and a verification appendix and now participants will find all information in the program guide.

 

What the Criteria Measure 

Based on national best practices from leading solar communities and experts, SolSmart criteria encourages solar energy growth, reduces barriers to solar energy deployment, and makes it possible for more homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs.

Our team of national solar experts offer no-cost technical assistance to help communities meet the criteria. By taking these actions, communities earn points toward SolSmart Bronze, Silver, or Gold designation.

 

Check out the full SolSmart application here to learn about the 75 actions our team of national solar experts can help your community achieve to become “solar-ready.” If you’re interested in learning more about the SolSmart application or designation process request a consultation here.