Guide

Metrics Guide

| By SolSmart

Introduction to the Metrics Guide

In an era of increasing demands and limited budgets, metrics have become an indispensable tool for local governments striving to optimize performance, responsibly steward public resources and communicate their achievements to stakeholders in a transparent and engaging manner. 

The purpose of this guide is to: 

  • provide local governments with a helpful framework for measuring and tracking their progress towards clean energy goals
  • effectively assess the impact, and
  • make informed decisions based on data-driven insights.

Download the document here.

Developing Your Metrics Framework 

A well-designed metrics framework is essential for tracking progress towards your clean energy goals. Follow these steps to create an effective framework:

  1. Identify your overarching goals and priorities. 
  2. For each goal, identify specific metrics that indicate progress.
  3. Determine baselines for each metric to establish a starting point.
  4. Set benchmark targets to define successful progress.
  5. Document the methodology for consistency and transparency.
  6. Plan for regular evaluation and adjustments.
  7. Develop a dashboard for reporting and accountability.
Establishing Baseline Metrics

Baseline metrics are measurements that establish an initial reference point or starting level for tracking performance. They can serve several additional purposes:

  • Establish the current state prior to interventions (or perhaps the state prior to SolSmart adoption) so that impact can be quantified
  • Create basis for improvement targets
  • Allow benchmarking against industry standards or best practices
  • Demonstrate progress over time

Baseline metrics for some goals can be fairly straightforward. For example, if the goal is to have a maximum 3-day turnaround time for residential solar permitting, the baseline could be the average time in a given period that it took a local government to process residential solar permits. It could also look at how many permits compared to the total that took longer than 3 days to process. Having more than one metric for a goal allows analysis of the progress towards success to come from several perspectives, sometimes at additional cost. 

Metrics Examples

When it comes to developing your clean energy metrics framework, remember that you don’t have to start from scratch. Chances are, peer communities have similar goals and priorities and have already begun tracking metrics that could be relevant to your local government. Reaching out to these communities can provide valuable insights and save time and resources in the process of identifying meaningful metrics that help align with industry best standards. The following communities provide great examples of local government reporting and accountability via public-facing metrics dashboards: Chester County, Pennsylvania; Metropolitan Council; City of Fremont, California; and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

To help local governments get started with tracking their solar permitting metrics, we have developed a user-friendly Excel spreadsheet that simplifies the process of data input, analysis, and reporting. The spreadsheet includes instructions for data organizing and input. By utilizing this tool, local governments can easily monitor key metrics such as permit processing times, approval rates, and the impact of solar deployment in their communities. 

It’s important to note that this excel spreadsheet is designed to be a starting point and a template for collecting and analyzing metrics relevant to solar and the SolSmart program. Local governments are encouraged to customize the spreadsheet to align with their specific goals, priorities, and data availability. The metrics included in the spreadsheet can be expanded, modified, or replaced to better suit the needs of each community. By adapting this template to their unique circumstances, local governments can create a tailored metrics framework that effectively tracks progress towards their clean energy goals and supports data-driven decision-making. 

The following table provides examples of common metrics tracked by local governments in three key areas: solar deployment, EV charging infrastructure, and internal processes. 

Solar Deployment
  • Total installed solar PV capacity (KW/MW)
  • Number of solar installations per capita
  • Number of buildings by sector with solar
  • Distributed generation’s share of total electricity use
  • Solar incentives and policies adopted
  • Community solar participation
  • Annual energy savings for LMI (MWh/GWh)
  • Annual greenhouse gas emissions reduced/avoided in tons of CO2 equivalent
  • Number of developers or entities that have installed solar in the last year
  • Percentage of solar installations in disadvantaged communities
  • Percentage of solar incentives allocated to LMI households or disadvantaged communities 
  • Demographics of those who’ve installed solar (LBNL Solar Demographics Tool)
EV Charging Infrastructure
  • Total installed EV charging capacity (KW/MW)
  • Number of Level 2 and DC Fast charger installations per capita
  • Number of buildings per sector with EV charging
  • EV charging incentives and policies adopted
  • Percent and number of EVs in municipal fleet (light duty vs. medium/heavy duty)
  • Percentage of EV charging installations that have required a service panel upgrade
  • Number of charging stations reserved for employee use
  • Percentage of installed chargers publicly available
  • Average charging system size and number of ports 
  • Number of developers or entities that have installed EVSE in the last year
  • Percentage of LMI households with access to EV charging 
  • Percentage of EV charging installations in disadvantaged communities
  • Percentage of EV charging incentives allocated to LMI households or disadvantaged communities
Internal Processes
  • Solar permitting time
  • Solar permitting queue time
  • Solar permit applications received per capita
  • Permit approval rates
  • Solar training sessions held
  • Number of departments required for a solar permit
  • Number of departments required for an EV charging permit
  • Median solar permit cost
  • Median EV charging permit cost
  • AHJ EV charging permit time
  • EV charging and/or solar inspection time
  • EV charging and/or solar inspection queue time
  • Pre-install EV charging and/or solar interconnection time
  • Post-install EV charging and/or solar interconnection time
  • Total PII (Permitting, Inspection, and Interconnection) cycle time for EV charging
  • Average permitting and interconnection times for solar and EV charging projects in LMI and disadvantaged communities compared to overall averages
  • Number of community outreach events targeting LMI households and disadvantaged communities for solar and EV charging education
  • Number of multilingual resources available for solar and EV charging permitting and interconnection processes

Conclusion

Implementing a thoughtful clean energy metrics framework empowers local governments to effectively track progress, communicate impact, and make data-driven decisions. By following the steps outlined in this guide and prioritizing key considerations such as alignment with goals, measurability, and transparency, local governments can accelerate their transition to clean energy and contribute to a sustainable future for their communities. The development of effective metrics frameworks requires collaboration and refinement over time, balancing the need for credibility, comparability, and feasibility in impact reporting.