Pine County Designated “SolSmart Bronze” for Advancing Solar Energy Growth
Pine County is receiving a Bronze designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar.
This designation recognizes Pine County for taking bold steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development. For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Bronze designation is a signal that Pine County is “open for solar business.”
SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 200 cities, counties, and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.
As a SolSmart designee, Pine County is helping solar companies reduce the cost of installations and pass those savings on to consumers. This allows even more local homes and businesses to obtain affordable, clean, and reliable electricity through solar. The actions Pine County has taken will help encourage solar companies to do business in the area, enhancing economic development and creating local jobs.
To receive designation, cities and counties make changes to their local processes to reduce the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. This includes evaluating local permitting processes, as well as planning and zoning procedures. SolSmart designees also develop innovations in areas such as market development and finance.
Some of Pine County’s activities have included: 1.) drafting language in its zoning ordinance (not yet adopted) to help facilitate wise and timely development of solar farms, 2.) Holding a workshop for townships and cities that exercise planning and zoning to prepare for solar development, and, 3.) participation in the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program to provide a financial tool for businesses to install solar.
SolSmart uses objective criteria to award communities points based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. Communities that take sufficient action are designated either gold, silver, or bronze.
As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. All cities and counties are eligible to join the SolSmart program and receive this technical assistance. Interested communities can learn more at SolSmart.org.