The true power of the solar industry is in the individual. Instead of waiting for someone on high to deliver the right solutons to the masses, the masses can seek out their own solutions. Organizations like SolSmart try to further this empowerment at the local level. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs.
The organization sent word that 11 new communities will be hosting SolSmart Advisors — experienced professionals who will help these communities cut red tape and reduce the cost of going solar.
Municipalities, counties, and regional organizations applied to host the advisors through a competitive process. Communities were selected based on their potential to benefit from the in-depth technical assistance the advisors will provide to encourage solar energy growth. After completing a training in Washington, D.C., the advisors will work in the communities as full-time staff members for up to six months.
“Local governments have the tools to make an enormous impact on solar energy growth in their communities. This provides new energy choices for consumers while encouraging economic development and new jobs,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation. “The SolSmart Advisors will use their professional expertise to help make these communities open for solar business.”
The SolSmart Advisors have experience in fields such as public policy, local government, and environmental and energy consulting. They will provide hands-on technical assistance to help communities evaluate programs and practices that impact the ability of solar companies to do business, such as planning and zoning, permitting, and inspection.
The eleven communities that are receiving SolSmart Advisors are as follows:
Communities: City of Lafayette, Adams County
Community: City of Atlanta
Community: Metropolitan Area Planning Council
Michigan and Indiana
Community: Michiana Area Council of Governments
Community: Metropolitan Council
Partner: Great Plains Institute
Community: City of Duluth
Communities: Town of Chapel Hill, Town of Carrboro, Orange County
Partner: North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center
Community: City of Oklahoma City
Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Community: Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
Community: City of Providence
Communities: City of Charlottesville, Abermarle County
Since the program launched in 2016, SolSmart has designated 29 cities and counties as Gold, Silver, or Bronze. With the help of the advisors, these 11 communities will work to achieve SolSmart designation as soon as possible.
“The SolSmart Advisors program will provide Oklahoma City with the ability to develop its solar sector in a way that drives educational opportunities, job creation, technological innovation, and sustainable growth and development,” said David Brent Grantham, founder at RedwoodAdaptive and the SolSmart Advisor for Oklahoma City. “I look forward to advising the city’s Office of Sustainability and other stakeholders as we begin to identify, design, and implement the best permitting, planning, market development, and financial opportunities introduced in this process.”