Important New Information for Counties

We have some important information to share for county governments pursuing a SolSmart designation. First, we have established a Modified Designation Pathway that county governments may use to achieve designation. Second, the National Association of Counties (NACo) is announcing a Member Challenge Campaign for county governments that apply to join SolSmart by May 31.

Modified Designation Pathway 

SolSmart recognizes the important role counties can play in influencing their constituent communities. While several counties, including Inyo County, CA, and Charleston County, SC, have been successfully designated through our existing Standard Designation Pathway, we understand that not all counties have control over key elements required for SolSmart designation -- such as permitting, planning and zoning, and inspection processes.

That’s why SolSmart is rolling out a Modified Designation Pathway, to make sure that all counties are able to participate and achieve designation. However, counties that would prefer to continue using the Standard Designation Pathway are free to do so.

The Modified Designation Pathway is divided into Prerequisites and four Special Focus Categories: Solar Rights; Utility Engagement; Community Engagement; and Market Development and Finance.

For SolSmart Bronze, counties must complete four prerequisites, and achieve 40 points overall from actions taken in any combination of Special Focus Categories. For SolSmart Silver, counties achieve an additional Silver prerequisite beyond those required for Bronze designation, and achieve 80 points overall from actions taken in any combination of Special Focus Categories. For SolSmart Gold, counties must achieve all Silver criteria and 150 points overall from actions taken in any combination of Special Focus Categories.

Prerequisites

1.     Solar Statement committing to achieving SolSmart designation, tracking key metrics, and outlining community solar goals.

2.     Provide guidance on planning, zoning and development best practices to communities in the county through webinars, in-person meetings, one-on-one calls or trainings.

3.     Collaborate with local inspection departments to develop an inspection checklist for the region, and share results publicly through webinars, in-person meetings, training and/or the county’s website. Encourage communities to integrate the checklist into their inspection processes.

4.     Host regional training or discussion on best practices in permitting for communities in the county.

5.     Incorporate solar into county-wide comprehensive plans and/or economic development plans, including quantifiable targets or metrics. (Required for Silver)

If you are unsure what type of designation pathway makes the most sense for your community, please request a consultation call. We look forward to assisting your county achieve SolSmart designation to make it easier, faster, and cheaper for your residents to install solar energy systems. Please contact us at solsmart@solarfound.org with any questions or concerns.

NACo Member Challenge Campaign

NACo has announced the 2017 SolSmart County Challenge, a new national competition for counties to showcase their support for solar energy.

The SolSmart County Challenge will run for five weeks, from Wednesday, March 1, until Wednesday, May 31. Counties can join the challenge by completing the Intake Form through either the Standard Designation Pathway or Modified Designation Pathway.

Two counties -- the one with highest verified points totals from the standard designation pathway and the one with the highest verified points from the modified designation pathway -- will receive prizes.

Prizes

The prizes for the two winners of the SolSmart County Challenge include:

●      Travel reimbursement for NACo Annual Conference & Exposition, July 21-24, Franklin County, Columbus, Ohio;

●      Presentation opportunity on a future NACo Webinar and Podcast on SolSmart

●      Recognition in NACo communication platforms including County News, NACo e-blast, NACo Blog, Resilient Counties newsletter, and social media.

●      SolSmart County Challenge Winning Certificate

If you have any questions about the SolSmart Member Challenge, please contact us at solsmart@solarfound.org.