The national SolSmart program has awarded the City of Lincoln a Gold designation for its efforts to make it faster, easier and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar. 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.
The designation is given to cities and counties that change their local processes to reduce the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. This includes evaluating permitting processes, as well as planning and zoning procedures. The central element in Lincoln's efforts is establishing a streamlined online permitting link at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: solar).
Taking steps to promote solar energy is a strategy identified in the Lincoln Environmental Action Plan (LEAP), and Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said it fits in well with the new sustainability and resiliency initiative she announced earlier this month.
"By helping solar companies reduce their costs, they can pass those savings on to consumers, allowing more homes and businesses to obtain affordable, clean, and reliable electricity through solar," said Mayor Gaylor Baird. "By achieving the top designation in the SolSmart program, we are encouraging solar companies to do business here, driving economic development and creating local jobs."
About 200 towns, cities and counties have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016. 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 program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve a designation.
All cities and counties are eligible to join the SolSmart program. More information is available at SolSmart.org.