This page provides a detailed description of each criterion in the Regional Pathway: Market Development category. It includes recommended verification for designation review, community examples, templates, and/or resources.
Learn more about the SolSmart designation process here. To access this information in a PDF document, download the SolSmart Program Guide.
Overview: Market Development
Regional organizations can collaborate and partner with organizations to promote solar development within their region. Supporting a community solar program, promoting a solarize group-buy campaign, or partnering with a local financial institution can make solar energy more affordable and accessible for homes and businesses while improving business opportunities for solar installers.
Many of the criteria in the market development category can be verified by providing news articles about the organization’s role in supporting solar development or by providing official documents that established policies or programs.
The Regional Pathway includes 10 Market Development criteria, totaling 145 points.
MD-1 (20 Points)
Demonstrate activity in state regulatory and/or legislative proceedings regarding solar PV.
Regional organizations can provide an important voice into the development of state-level solar energy policy, strategies, and incentives. Staff can track policy developments actively and develop appropriate strategies to interact with state regulators and legislators. Interactions with ISO/RTO are included in this criterion.
- Provide a link to public comments on solar energy or related proceeding; or
- Provide agenda, minutes and/or recording of meetings in which the regional organization participated
MD-2 (20 Points)
Support a community-wide group purchase program (e.g., Solarize). Program must have occurred within the last 2 years.
Regional organizations can support or host community group purchase programs for solar energy. Bulk purchasing can reduce the costs of solar installations for community members. These limited time-offers have had consistent success in providing discounts of up to 20% of installed costs for residential systems. To be eligible for MD-2, the regional organization must be an official partner and/or provide tangible support (staff time, resources, etc.) to the group purchase program.
- Provide a link to a website where the Solarize campaign has been publicly announced.
- Provide details about the status of an ongoing solarize campaign or final metrics of a completed solarize campaign.
MD-3 (10 Points)
Define and implement a pathway specifically for low-to-moderate income (LMI) residents to participate in a community-wide group purchase program through program design and/or financing support options.
It can be particularly difficult for low-to-moderate income (LMI) households to participate in solar purchasing programs. These programs may require a minimum credit score, an upfront deposit, or have contract terms that present barriers for some residents. Regional organizations can help to identify these barriers and help overcome them, for example by providing incentives for income-qualified participants.
Recommended Verification: Provide signed memo that explains the forms of financing support or program design elements that support LMI residents in solar PV group purchase program.
MD-4 (20 Points)
Support a community solar program.
Community solar offers residents and businesses an opportunity to own or lease a portion of a solar project in exchange for economic benefits proportional to their share. These economic benefits are commonly delivered in the form of electricity bill credits. For renters, and homes or business that are not suitable sites for solar, community solar programs allow consumers to access solar without installing panels on their homes or business. Community solar can be provided by utilities, a third party, or a non-profit. Supporting actions include making community solar information available on the regional organization website/solar landing page, map of community solar projects, how to subscribe and what a subscription entails. To be eligible for MD-4, the regional organization must be an official partner and/or provide tangible support (staff time, resources, etc.) to the community solar program.
Recommended Verification: Provide a link to information about the community solar program, including any outreach materials and details about program design.
MD-5 (10 Points)
Define and implement a pathway specifically for low-to-moderate income (LMI) residents to participate in a community solar program through program design and/or financing support options.
It can be particularly difficult for low-to-moderate income (LMI) households to participate in solar purchasing programs. These programs may require a minimum credit score, an upfront deposit, or have contract terms that present barriers for some residents. Regional organizations can help to identify these barriers and create strategies to overcome them, by providing incentives for income-qualified participants.
Recommended Verification: Link to information on solar landing page or provide signed memo summarizing the forms of financing support or program design elements that support LMI residents in solar PV group purchase program.
MD-6 (10 Points)
Host a regional workshop focused on the topic of siting solar PV and procuring renewable energy.
Regional organizations can play an important role in convening and training member communities. Siting solar PV and strategies for procuring renewable energy are both important topics that regional organizations can get involved in. These topics are often best explored at a regional scale where trainings can be adapted to reflect state-specific policies, land use concerns, procurement policies, etc.
- Provide a memo with details about in-person permit training including name of training, name of trainer, attendees (name, title, department), date and time, location, agenda, and presentation/slides.
- Provide a link to online training posted to a public streaming platform or the organization’s solar landing page.
MD-7 (5 Points)
Provide an inventory of local incentives provided by member communities for solar PV to low-to-moderate income (LMI) households, disadvantaged communities, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), and/or non-profit organizations that provide community services.
There are often a variety of different incentives available to LMI households, DBEs, and non-profit organizations. It can be difficult for a home or business owner to navigate these different programs and understand what is applicable to them. Regional organizations can help create an organized inventory of the incentive programs and help improve access to these programs.
Recommended Verification: Provide a link to the relevant information on the organization’s solar landing page.
MD-8 (20 Points)
Partner with financial institutions and/or foundations to offer loans, rebates, grants, or other incentives for solar PV projects. (Financial institutions could include entities such as a local or regional bank, CDFI, or credit union).
In addition to state and federal incentives, organizations can also encourage solar development within their region by providing tax exemptions, rebates, or other financial incentives. Loans, rebates, or grants can improve the financial prospects of a solar project, allowing more community members to install solar.
Recommended Verification: Provide a link to an application or form that are required for a solar PV system to be eligible for incentives or financing.
MD-9 (20 Points)
Develop a regional funding model or institution that directly funds or facilitates new solar PV adoption within the region.
The regional organization and its partners can work together to understand local needs and gaps in current funding or financing programs. Together, they can take action to develop a new funding model or institution to serve the region and fill identified gaps. New solar loans, rebates, or grants can improve the financial prospects of a solar project, allowing more residents and organizations in the region to access funds and install solar.
Recommended Verification: Signed memo describing the new regional funding model or institution, the role the regional organization played in developing or implementing the effort, and the types of solar projects that will be supported.
MD-10 (10 Points)
Develop a regional grant application process and/or team to apply for or sponsor competitive grants, maximizing the impact of state and federal funding opportunities for your members that alone would be ineligible.
The regional organization should develop a process to apply for federal and state grants of which they are eligible for and will provide solar benefits; either for their member communities or directly assist in solar installations. The regional organization can also connect member communities and state and federal agencies providing funds directly to local government, provide technical assistance for grant applications, co-sponsor grants, connect members with appropriate grant co-sponsors if the regional organization is ineligible, and keep an eye on relevant grants and application timelines.
Recommended Verification: Signed memo summarizing the grant application process and outcomes.