The SolSmart program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, has announced the communities it has chosen to host its first local program advisors. Under this initial round, the program has appointed 11 full-time SolSmart Advisors, experienced professionals who will help the selected communities cut red tape and reduce the cost of going solar.
Launched in 2016, the government-backed program aims to recognize leading solar cities and counties in the U.S. and to empower new communities to advance through no-cost technical assistance. So far, SolSmart says it has designated 29 cities and counties as gold, silver or bronze – a ranking system based on the actions communities take to encourage solar.
Separately, municipalities, counties and regional organizations also applied to host SolSmart Advisors through a competitive process, and the program has now selected communities based on their potential to benefit from the in-depth technical assistance the advisors will provide. After completing training in Washington, D.C., the 11 advisors will work in their host 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,” says Andrea Luecke, president and executive director at The Solar Foundation, which administers the SolSmart program. “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. With the help of the program advisors, the host 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,” comments 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.”
Each of the 11 SolSmart Advisors will be working in a specific host region, which may encompass multiple cities or counties, 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
More information on the program’s SolSmart Advisors is available here.