SolSmart Celebrates 100 City and County Designees!

Big news: More than 100 cities, counties, and small towns across America are designated SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze!

Since we launched the SolSmart program in April 2016, we’ve been providing no-cost technical assistance to help communities improve the business climate for solar energy. With over 100 communities receiving designation -- and many more working toward designation in the near future -- this milestone is an opportunity for local governments to celebrate what they’ve achieved.

Where are these designees? Check out our map and you’ll see they’re everywhere. They range from major metro areas like New York City, Atlanta, and Chicago; to small towns like Red Wing, Minnesota and Pinecrest, Florida; to rural counties like Inyo County, California and Delta County, Colorado.

We’re more confident than ever that every local government has the tools to make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar -- no matter the size of the community or where they are located.

What does a SolSmart designation mean? To start with, the communities receive well-deserved recognition and a SolSmart plaque to hang in their offices. However, this designation is much more than just an award. It indicates that local governments have met objective criteria to remove obstacles to solar development and become “open for solar business.”

For the solar industry, a SolSmart designation shows that a community is an attractive place to enter the market. Businesses can be confident they won’t face procedural obstacles such as long permitting waiting times, burdensome zoning regulations, or other local procedures that unnecessarily impair solar development.

When local governments streamline their procedures, this allows companies to provide solar at a lower cost and pass these savings on to consumers. That means even more households and businesses will be able to obtain clean, affordable, and reliable energy through solar.

And by attracting more solar to the community, cities and counties position themselves for job creation and economic development. The solar industry created 1 in 50 American jobs in 2016, and the solar jobs market is growing 17 times faster than the overall economy. Local action to drive solar energy growth helps keep those jobs in the community.

SolSmart designees are national leaders that should be an example to their peers. Congratulations to them all, and we can’t wait to recognize many more designees in the near future!

Join us in San Antonio for the ICMA Annual Meeting

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SolSmart will be at the 103rd International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas from October 22-25. As a local government engaged in the SolSmart program to make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar, we hope you can join us! We’ll be honoring and recognizing the cities and counties that were designated SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze, as well as those that are now on the path to designation.

This conference will be an opportunity to meet the SolSmart team and network with other government leaders taking steps to go solar. We hope you will join us at the conference for two engaging events. Register now.

The ICMA Annual Conference offers local government managers and staff an abundance of educational, information-sharing, and networking tools to help you manage your community in today’s complex environment.


Special Session | Getting Smart About Solar: How to Build a Strong Solar Market and Get National Recognition

Date: Monday – October 23, 2017

Time: 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM

Room: Hemisfair Ballroom C2


Getting Smart about Solar is an ICMA Annual Conference Special Session that provides local government members insight into the dynamics of the growing solar landscape within our communities. Need help streamlining your local inspection and permitting processes? Interested in zoning best practices, launching a group buy program, or installing municipal solar? During this session, local government staff and energy utility representatives will share details about their solar work and efforts, operational improvements, challenges experienced, and solutions implemented as their communities worked toward national solar designation within the SolSmart Program. Don’t miss this opportunity to get answers to your solar questions!


Reception | SolSmart Community Reception

Date: Monday – October 23, 2017

Time: 5:30–  6:30 PM

Room: Grand Hyatt San Antonio – SeguinAB


The SolSmart Community Reception is taking place on Monday, 10/23, from 5:30 – 6:30pm. The reception is not only a celebration for all our communities participating in the program, those who have achieved designation, and those who have earned special recognition awards, but also a celebration of all the communities across the U.S. who are fostering increased sustainability through the development of solar and clean, renewable forms of energy.

We hope to see you at the Annual Conference. Not yet registered? Register here.

SolSmart Designees Up to 78 Nationwide!

County government officials receive SolSmart designations at the National Association of Counties annual conference.

County government officials receive SolSmart designations at the National Association of Counties annual conference.

The SolSmart team was at the National Association of Counties Annual Conference in Franklin County, Ohio, this weekend to announce a host of new counties receiving SolSmart designation! In addition to that, we’ve seen numerous cities and towns in recent weeks receive designations of SolSmart Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

At the conference, the mood was bright and cheerful as county officials gathered to celebrate the new designees. What's more, representatives from other communities expressed hope that they would soon be designated themselves.

SolSmart recognizes cities and counties for taking steps to cut red tape and reduce the costs of solar energy at the local level. So far, a total of 78 communities have received their designations as “open for solar business” in just over a year since the launch of SolSmart. A map with a list of all designees can be found here

The latest SolSmart designees are all over the country, from Athens-Clarke County in Georgia to Contra Costa County, California. Recently designated cities include Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Sacramento, California; Providence, Rhode Island; and many more.

Here are all the new communities receiving designations in recent weeks, as well as the communities that have moved from Bronze or Silver to a higher Designation:

Adams County, Colorado

Coventry, Connecticut

Goshen, Indiana

Pima County, Arizona

Sacramento, California

Sonoma County, California

Duluth, Minnesota

Linn County, Iowa

Providence, Rhode Island

Albemarle County, Virginia

Athens-Clarke County, Georgia

Contra Costa County, California

Franklin County, Ohio

Marin County, California

Melrose, Massachusetts

DeKalb County, Georgia

Nappanee, Indiana

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Savannah, Georgia

Will County, Illinois

Carrboro, North Carolina – Gold

Cupertino, California – Gold

Orange County, North Carolina – Silver

Winners of the 2017 SolSmart County Challenge Announced!

The National Association of Counties (NACo) has announced the winners of their 2017 SolSmart County Challenge. As a component of the SolSmart program, the competition challenged counties across the U.S. to Think SolSmart and showcase their commitment to advancing solar energy.

Starting in April and running until June 23, the challenge saw participation from a diverse group of counties. After reviewing the submitted SolSmart designation scorecards, the two winners have been selected.

And the winners are...

1st Place: Sonoma County, CA

2nd Place: Pima County, AZ

Each winner receives:

More to come...

Next week, SolSmart will announce our most recent cohort of designated communities! We'll be recognizing designated counties and the SolSmart County Challenge winners during the Resilient Counties Forum on July 23rd at the 82nd NACo Annual Conference & Exposition in Franklin County, Ohio.

New Communities to Host SolSmart Advisors

SolSmart is happy to announce new communities ready to host the second round of SolSmart Advisors, experienced professionals who will aid these communities in reducing costs and facilitating the growth of solar energy.

Working in the communities for approximately six months, SolSmart Advisors provide no-cost, hands-on technical assistance in communities that are selected through a competitive process based on their potential to benefit from the Advisors’ assistance.

Through their experience in public policy, energy consulting, or local government, and after completing training in Washington, D.C., the Advisors work full-time with cities and counties to help them implement changes that will open their communities for solar business.

We announced the first round of Advisors in January serving 11 communities, and these Advisors are now close to completing their work. The cities and counties they work in are now well on their way to achieving SolSmart designation, and several will be announced in the coming weeks.

The second round will include not only individual Advisors, but also organizations that will provide technical assistance on a team basis.

The organizations serving as Advisors include:

Sustainable CUNY

Serving between eight and ten communities throughout New York State, including Clifton Park, Erie County, Huntington, North Hempstead, Warwick (town), and Warwick (village).

Great Plains Institute

Serving Minnesota communities including Stearns County, Pine City, Chisago County, Hutchinson, Austin, St. Francis, Grand Rapids, and Rochester; and the Iowa communities Linn County and Cedar Rapids.

Spark Northwest (formerly Northwest SEED)

Serving Washington State communities including Bellevue, Edmonds, Mercer Island, Langley, Issaquah, and King County.


Serving approximately ten individual local governments in Colorado.

CT Green Bank

Serving Connecticut communities including Coventry, Fairfield, Hamden, Hartford, Middletown, and Stratford.

Montana Renewable Energy Association

Serving Montana communities including Missoula (city), Missoula County, Bozeman, Whitefish, and Helena.

Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus

Including approximately one dozen local governments in the metropolitan Chicago area.

Midwest Renewable Energy Association

Including the following Wisconsin communities: Ashland City, Bayfield, Ashland County, Bayfield County, Eau Claire, and Wisconsin Rapids; and Johnson County, Iowa.

Mid-America Regional Council

Serving at least ten individual local governments in Missouri and Kansas.

North Central Texas Council of Governments

Including the following Texas communities: Cedar Hill, Denton, and Kennedale.

These communities or groups of communities are receiving individual advisors:

South Florida Communities

Including Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Lantana, and Delray Beach.

Northern Middlesex Council of Governments

Including the following Massachusetts communities: Chelmsford, Dracut, Lowell, Pepperell, Tewksbury, and Tyngsborough.

Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council

Including the following Ohio communities: Athens, Somerset, Amesville, and Athens County.

Northern Virginia Regional Commission

Including the following Virginia communities: Fairfax (city), Alexandria, and Arlington County.

58 Communities in 25 States Are Now "Open for Solar Business"

Just over a year after the SolSmart program launched, 58 communities in 25 states have achieved designation as "open for solar business." Representing more than 29 million people, these cities and counties are cutting red tape to reduce the cost of solar energy at the local level.

You can see a map and list of all SolSmart designees here.

Today, SolSmart is announcing the latest 22 new designations at the American Planning Association National Planning Conference in New York City. We're excited and proud to recognize what they've achieved.

Nine new communities achieved the highest designation of SolSmart Gold: Atlanta, Georgia; Beaverton, Oregon; Davis, California; El Paso, Texas; Hillsboro, Oregon; Huntington Beach, California; Madison, Wisconsin; Washington, D.C.; and Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Two new communities were designated SolSmart Silver: Ames, Iowa and Oro Valley, Arizona.

Eleven new communities were designated SolSmart Bronze: Carrboro, North Carolina; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Charlottesville, Virginia; Cupertino, California; Dartmouth, Massachusetts; Lincoln, Nebraska; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Natick, Massachusetts; Orange County, North Carolina; Raymore, Missouri; and San Antonio, Texas.

And four more communities achieved SolSmart Gold after they were previously designated silver or bronze: Charleston County, South Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Somerville, Massachusetts.

A few examples of their achievements include:

Atlanta, SolSmart Gold: The city developed a process to approve certain solar permit applications over the counter; proposed a solar plus storage project on an urban farm; launched a solar landing page on the city’s sustainability website; and created a streamlined permitting pathway for small solar systems.

 Ames, SolSmart Silver: The city created an interactive map to share solar information with the public; encouraged solar projects on community facilities; provided clear guidance for solar in historic and special use districts; and provided intensive cross-training to permitting and inspection staff.

San Antonio, SolSmart Bronze: The city developed an online solar permitting process; installed solar on public facilities including the San Antonio International Airport; and created incentives through the local utility to make solar more affordable.

A huge congratulations is in order for all new SolSmart designees! To find out how your community can achieve recognition and no-cost technical assistance under the SolSmart program, contact us at

“The City of Atlanta is proud to receive the SolSmart Gold Designation in recognition of our path-breaking leadership with solar energy. We launched the Solar Atlanta program in 2015, and are now installing solar panels on 28 municipal buildings, saving money and reducing our carbon emissions. With our new, streamlined permitting process, we are also sending the message that solar works for our residents and property owners." -- Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

“The SolSmart program created a national benchmark for communities to reach and provided the guidance and resources to support adoption of best practices in solar policy. The actions that we took to be the first in the State of Virginia to achieve the SolSmart designation will help the city meet important climate protection and job creation goals." -- Maurice Jones, City Manager of the City of Charlottesville and President-Elect of the Virginia Local Government Management Association

“As the City of Madison strives to be a more sustainable community with a smaller carbon footprint, we are proud to receive this gold designation through SolSmart. Madison will continue to strive to do better and we look forward to additional milestones.” -- Paul Soglin, Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin