Public Statement of Solar Goals and Key Metrics

Actions Points
PR-1: Post a public statement of solar goals in the form of a SolSmart commitment letter AND begin tracking key solar metrics.

Resources and Examples:

Required

Permitting

Actions Points
P-1: Create and make available an online checklist detailing the steps of your community's solar permitting process.

Resources and Examples:

Required
P-2: Provide a streamlined permitting pathway for small solar PV systems with turn-around time of no more than 3 days.

Resources and Examples:

20; Required for SolSmart Gold
P-3: Distinguish between systems qualifying for streamlined or standard review.

Resources and Examples:

5
P-4: Require no more than one application form for a residential rooftop solar PV project.

Resources and Examples:

5
P-5a: Conduct a review of solar permit fees for residential and commercial solar PV.

Resources and Examples:

5
P-5b: Earn additional points: Revise or demonstrate that permit fees reflect national best practices ($400 or less for residential, and based on cost-recovery for commercial).
5
P-6: Review permitting process for efficiency improvements and reduce processing time to 10 days or less.

Resources and Examples:

10
P-7: Adopt a standard solar PV permit form aligned with best practices (e.g. Solar ABCs).

Resources and Examples:

10
P-8: Train permitting staff on best practices for permitting solar PV and/or solar and storage systems. Training must have occurred within the past five years.

Resources and Examples:

10
P-9: Train fire and safety staff on solar PV. Training must have occurred within the past five years.

Resources and Examples:

10
P-10: Develop a regular communication schedule to solicit recommendations from the solar installer community regarding procedural changes. 10
P-11: Offer an online process for permitting submission and approval.

Resources and Examples:

20
P-12: Make permit data open and accessible to other departments. 20
P-13: Local Innovation: Has your community taken action to reduce permitting soft costs that wasn't captured in the list above? TBD

Planning, Zoning, and Development Regulations

Actions Points
PZD-1a: Review zoning requirements and identify restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit solar PV development. Compile findings in a memo. Examples of restrictions to look for include, but are not limited to, height restrictions, set-back requirements, requiring a conditional use permit, and aesthetic requirements.

Resources and Examples:

Required
PZD-1b: Formally present PZD-1a memo findings to planning commission, or relevant zoning body.

Resources and Examples:

5
PZD-1c: Draft proposed language for changes to zoning code based on PZD-1a memo. Involve planners and/or local zoning experts in the creation of the draft language.

Resources and Examples:

5
PZD-2: Allow accessory use solar PV by-right in all major zones.

Resources and Examples:

Required for SolSmart Silver and SolSmart Gold
PZD-3a: Conduct review of existing planning documents and identify new opportunities to integrate solar PV into planning goals.

Resources and Examples:

5
PZD-3b: In consultation with planners and other staff, provide draft language on solar PV, which will be proposed for inclusion in existing or future plans. Provide a timeline for when the language will be considered for incorporation into plans.

Resources and Examples:

5
PZD-4: Provide clear guidance for solar PV in historic and special use districts.

Resources and Examples:

10
PZD-5: Integrate solar PV and/or shared solar into relevant local plans (e.g. energy plan, climate plan, comprehensive plan), including quantifiable metrics or specific actions.

Resources and Examples:

10
PZD-6: Include considerations for active and passive solar in development regulations (e.g. providing guidance for orientation of structures in subdivision regulations).

Resources and Examples:

10
PZD-7: Provide development incentives for solar PV within the subdivision or zoning process, or as part of other development incentives (e.g., density or height bonuses and other incentives for buildings that plan to install solar PV).

Resources and Examples:

20
PZD-8: Encourage or incentivize solar PV development on parking lots, vacant lots, landfills, buffer lands around uses with nuisances (e.g. refineries, wastewater plants), brownfields or formerly contaminated lands, airport safety zones (with FAA approval), and non-building structures.

Resources and Examples:

20
PZD-9: Train planning staff on best practices in planning and zoning for solar PV. Training must have occurred within the past five years.

Resources and Examples:

10
PZD-10a: Ensure that the zoning ordinance clarifies regulations for small ground-mounted solar PV.

Resources and Examples:

5
PZD-10b: Ensure that the zoning ordinance establishes a clear regulatory pathway for primary use solar PV (for example through a special use permit or through inclusion among allowed conditional uses).

Resources and Examples:

5
PZD-10c: Ensure that the zoning ordinance exempts rooftop solar PV from certain restrictions on accessory uses (e.g. height limits, rooftop equipment screening requirements, or other restrictions.

Resources and Examples:

5
PZD-10d: Ensure that the zoning ordinance exempts ground-mounted solar PV from certain restrictions on accessory uses (e.g. setbacks, coverage or impervious surface calculations, or other restrictions).

Resources and Examples:

5
PZD-11: Create and provide online a handout for developers that provides an overview of what development regulations allow under which conditions (e.g. types and sizes of solar PV arrays permitted, the processes required, and other relevant information, such as design standards and policy outside of the zoning language).

Resources and Examples:

5
PZD-12: Local Innovation: Has your community taken action to reduce planning, zoning, and development regulations soft costs that wasn't captured in the list above? TBD

Inspection

Actions Points
I-1: Provide cross-training of inspection and permitting staff on solar PV via in-person or online resources. Training must have occurred within the past five years.

Resources and Examples:

Required for SolSmart Silver and SolSmart Gold
I-2: Require no more than two inspections for accessory use solar PV.

Resources and Examples:

10
I-3: Offer inspection appointment times in lieu of appointment windows.
10
I-4: Make inspection requirements for solar PV available online.

Resources and Examples:

10
I-5: Have a fixed time frame between inspection requests and scheduling of inspections of no more than 10 days.

Resources and Examples:

10
I-6: Provide an online process for scheduling and responding to inspection requests.

Resources and Examples:

20
I-7: Local Innovation: Has your community taken action to reduce inspection soft costs that wasn't captured in the list above? TBD

Construction Codes

Actions Points
CC-1a: Develop and provide Solar Ready Construction Guidelines for developers to enable lower cost installation of future solar PV installations on buildings within the permitting office and online.

Resources and Examples:

10
CC-1b: Earn additional points: Include guidance for solar PV on parking lots and other types of non-traditional structures.
10
CC-2: Require or incentivize new construction to be solar ready to complete future installations at lower cost.

Resources and Examples:

10
CC-3: Offer design guidelines for solar PV aligned with National Electrical Code and fire code.

Resources and Examples:

20
CC-4: Adopt the most recent codes from the International Code Council. Appendix U from the 2015 IRC regarding solar ready construction must be adopted to receive credit.

Resources and Examples:

20
CC-5: Local Innovation: Has your community taken action to reduce construction codes soft costs that wasn't captured in the list above? TBD

Solar Rights

Actions Points
SR-1: Conduct review of state policies related to protecting rights of property owners to install solar and solar system owners’ right to sunlight on their property. Make this information available to residents.

Resources and Examples:

5
SR-2: Provide consumer protection resources on solar PV which help consumers make informed solar PV purchasing decisions.

Resources and Examples:

5
SR-3: Develop local process to enable solar rights through a solar access ordinance.

Resources and Examples:

10
SR-4: Offer procedure for recording solar easements for property owners.

Resources and Examples:

10
SR-5a: Engage homeowners and neighborhood associations and discourage unnecessarily restrictive requirements for solar PV through meetings with leadership.

Resources and Examples:

10
SR-5b: Earn additional points: Encourage subdivisions to consider shared solar allowances.
5
SR-5c: Earn additional points: Work with HOAs to develop appropriate guideline documents for solar PV.
5
SR-6: Local Innovation: Has your community taken action to reduce solar rights soft costs that wasn't captured in the list above? TBD

Utility Engagement

Actions Points
U-1: Review best practices for integrating interconnection with electrical inspections and share best practices with staff.

Resources and Examples:

5
U-2: Discuss community or shared solar PV programs with the local utility.

Resources and Examples:

10
U-3a: Engage and communicate with the utility on community goals for solar PV, net metering, and interconnection processes.

Resources and Examples:

10
U-3b: Earn additional points: Coordinate with regional organization or other local governments to engage utilities.
5
U-4: Coordinate utility and city inspections for solar PV, reducing the total number of inspections needed.

Resources and Examples:

20
U-5: Launch and support a utility-provided community solar program.

Resources and Examples:

20
U-6: Local Innovation: Has your community taken action to reduce utility engagement soft costs that wasn't captured in the list above? TBD

Community Engagement

Actions Points
CE-1: Convene an active energy task force or solar working group that meets at least three times per year.

Resources and Examples:

10
CE-2: Create a solar landing page on local government’s website with information on the community’s solar goals and local resources for solar development.

Resources and Examples:

  • City of Minneapolis, Minnesota - Solar
  • Department of Community Development, City of Gladstone, Missouri - Solar Energy
10
CE-3: Encourage solar PV on non-profit or community facilities through fee waivers, technical assistance, or other support.

Resources and Examples:

10
CE-4a: Support or host a community-group purchase program (e.g., Solarize).

Resources and Examples:

20
CE-4b: Earn additional points: Design program or create financing support options to encourage low-to-moderate income participation in community solar initiatives.
10
CE-5a: Host a solar workshop open to the general public and/or local government staff explaining solar PV opportunities and policies.

Resources and Examples:

5
CE-5b: Creation and distribution of educational materials at relevant community events and through local government channels.
5
CE-5c: Establish partnerships with local non-profits or organizations on solar PV with multi-year goal or planned initiatives.
5
CE-5d: Publicly encourage community solar projects or solar PV projects on community facilities.
5
CE-5e: Engage community in robust, on-going discussion around climate, energy or sustainability plans.
5
CE-6: Create and publish job training and placement opportunities for solar in coordination with local community colleges.

Resources and Examples:

20
CE-7: Conduct feasibility analysis for solar PV on brownfields, landfills, formerly contaminated lands and/or other under-utilized properties.

Resources and Examples:

10
CE-8: Install or lease land for solar PV development on brownfields, landfills, formerly contaminated lands and/or other under-utilized properties.

Resources and Examples:

20
CE-9: Engage with regional organizations on advancing solar PV policies in the region including, but not limited to unified permitting processes and group procurement opportunities.

Resources and Examples:

20
CE-10: Demonstrate activity in state-level conversations regarding solar PV.

Resources and Examples:

20
CE-11: Create and/or share an interactive solar map for your community.

Resources and Examples:

20
CE-12: Local Innovation: Has your community taken action to reduce community engagement soft costs that wasn't captured in the list above? TBD

Market Development & Finance

Actions Points
MDF-1: Provide resources on active installers and/or local incentives for solar PV.

Resources and Examples:

5
MDF-2: Make solar metrics publicly available.

Resources and Examples:

5
MDF-3: Provide information to consumers about different solar PV financing options, including commercial options, such as property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing.

Resources and Examples:

5
MDF-4: Conduct feasibility analysis for solar PV installations on public facilities.

Resources and Examples:

10
MDF-5: Install solar PV on local facilities.

Resources and Examples:

20
MDF-6a: If applicable, provide PACE financing in your community.

Resources and Examples:

10
MDF-6b: Demonstrate that PACE financing has been used to finance solar PV in your community.

Resources and Examples:

10
MDF-7: Provide local incentives (i.e. permit fee waivers or rebates) or locally-enabled finance (e.g. a revolving loan fund) for solar PV.

Resources and Examples:

20
MDF-8: Engage local banks, credit unions, foundations and/or community funds about lending for solar PV projects through in-person meetings, discussions and/or workshops.

Resources and Examples:

20
MDF-9: Demonstrate that community’s installed per capita capacity is above top 20% of states (>99 watts/person).

Resources and Examples:

20
MDF-10: Integrate solar PV with other distributed or emerging technologies such as storage, CHP or electric vehicles in at least one installed or proposed project.

Resources and Examples:

20
MDF-11: Demonstrate feasibility analysis or planning for resilient solar technologies for critical facilities and emergency planning such as solar and storage.

Resources and Examples:

20
MDF-12: Local Innovation: Has your community taken action to reduce market development and finance soft costs that wasn't captured in the list above? TBD