SolSmart – Helping Communities Realize Renewable Energy and Climate Targets

SolSmart is designating cities and counties nationwide based on their efforts to make solar more affordable for their residents and businesses.

The Compact of Mayors, COP 21, and the Clean Power Plan underscore the importance of renewable energy adoption at the local level. By establishing benchmarks and goals, these initiatives have taken the first step toward addressing climate change.

Previously, we have discussed the important role of local governments in encouraging renewable energy adoption and reducing costs. Local governments in particular can influence, non-hardware costs or soft costs, which can be up to 60% of the installation costs for solar PV. Meister Consultants Group’s research through the Smart DG Hub has indicated a similar balance of system cost trend for lithium-ion and solar and storage projects of 66% and 73%, respectively.

The new SolSmart designation program helps communities take action to implement policies and programs that work to satisfy their climate and energy commitments. In particular, the adoption and promotion of solar energy represent increasingly viable and cost-effective means for helping communities nationwide to address their climate goals. Solar market development has been coupled with local economic development; the solar industry expects record installations in years to come, and each new megawatt of installed capacity can power about 164 homes and create on average 20 solar jobs.

Meister Consultants Group has supported the creation of the SolSmart designation program by leading the development of criteria to enhance a community’s solar readiness and improve market development. These criteria were developed based on our experience working with governments and regional planning councils around the country and the expertise of a Criteria Advisory Committee made of national experts in communities, designation programs, and solar energy. The criteria range from procedural categories such as permitting, planning, and zoning to community engagement to address customer acquisition costs. Communities can receive cost-free technical assistance in any of the designation categories to advance their solar and climate goals.

The SolSmart program, is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot initiative, aims to drive greater solar deployment and make it possible for more American homes and business to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. By achieving designation, municipal governments signal to the solar industry that they solar ready, and also can assist in achieving increasingly aggressive state and local greenhouse gas reduction goals.

To learn more about the SolSmart Program, apply for designation or technical assistance, or nominate a committee, please visit solsmart.org or reach out directly to us at office@mc-group.com with the subject line “SolSmart Designation.”

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