Report finds SolSmart communities increased solar capacity by 67% per month on average

SolSmart, the national designation and technical assistance program to help local governments make the transition to solar easier, has commissioned a third-party review led by four universities (Missouri University of Science & Technology, Florida State University, University of Miami, and University of Texas at Austin) to review the impact of the program on local governments and make recommendations for improvement. The data suggests that SolSmart has real and tangible implications for solar uptake in designated communities.

Main Findings

  • Communities designated by SolSmart increased their solar capacity by an average of 69 kW per month – an increase of 67%. The number of installations has increased by 62%, or an average of three systems per month. Across the country, SolSmart generated approximately 300-450 MW of additional solar capacity and 12,800-19,200 new installations.
  • SolSmart speeds up the solar plant licensing process by an average of 7.5 days, reducing delays for local governments, solar companies and consumers.
  • In surveys, local government and industry officials say SolSmart’s biggest impact is increased local solar knowledge.
  • SolSmart Provides for Communities: $ 10 million in SolSmart tax dollars led to $ 1-2 billion in additional solar investment.
  • While it positively impacts the permit process, data shows that SolSmart does not speed up the inspection and interconnection process or the overall installation process.

The research also provided useful information about why communities are getting involved in SolSmart and possible barriers to success. To follow up, the SolSmart program is:

  • Increase the reach to encourage new communities to participate in SolSmart, especially communities that are under-resourced or struggling to meet staff needs.
  • Working to ensure that SolSmart encourages equitable results and improves access to solar energy for all populations.
  • Evaluate and improve the SolSmart criteria to focus on actions that have the greatest impact. Considering new strategies to improve inspection times to create an overall faster installation process.

News item from SolSmart

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