Mar 13, 2017
SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, is awarding a gold designation to recognize the City and County of Denver as a national leader in advancing solar energy. Denver was recognized as a leader in solar energy at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference, which took place March 11-15, 2017, in Washington, DC.
Denver is situated in one of the most solar friendly climates in the country, and has a long history of supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. As a SolSmart Gold designee, Denver is receiving national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar. A SolSmart designation is a signal that the community is “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs.
To achieve designation, Denver has taken several important steps to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning; permitting; financing; customer acquisition; and installation labor. Nationwide, soft costs represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. Reducing these costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.
Specifically, Denver has streamlined solar permitting--with most solar projects able to get a permit in one day--and offers reduced fees capped at $50 for solar permits. One of the City's signature programs is the Denver Energy Challenge, which allows residents to easily invest in energy efficiency and solar by providing free energy advising and low-interest loans that can cover the purchase or lease of a rooftop solar system, the upfront costs to purchase shares in a community solar garden, a solar thermal system and more.
The SolSmart designation team, led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), evaluates communities and awards them points based on the actions they take to reduce soft costs and other barriers to solar. Communities that take sufficient action are designed either gold, silver, or bronze.
As part of the SolSmart program, all participating communities are eligible to request no-cost technical assistance from a team of national solar experts to help them achieve designation. The SolSmart technical assistance team is led by The Solar Foundation.
Launched in April 2016, SolSmart aims to designate 300 communities during the three-year, federally funded program.
SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. 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. Learn more at SolSmart.org.
About the SunShot Initiative
The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.