Tag Archives: SolSmart

Mayors join call for more solar power

Special to the Norfolk Daily News





More than 200 mayors representing cities in every U.S. state have signed on to Environment America Research & Policy Center’s “Mayors for Solar Energy” letter, embracing a collective vision for solar-powered communities. Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning is one of two representing Nebraska, along with Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler . . . The number of signatures on the Mayors for Solar Energy letter has more than tripled since December 2017, and Environment America Research and Policy Center expects that number will continue to grow. Learn more here.

Environment America News Release: From sea to shining sea, mayors call for solar
Mayors For Solar Energy

Environment America Resources

Additional Opportunity Highlighted by Environment America
Apply for SolSmart designation and get technical assistance in improving your solar permitting process.


Lincoln, Nebraska is a
SolSmart Designee.




Lincoln Environmental Action Plan 2017 – 2018 (PDF)



Previously Posted NPPD News Release:
NPPD, Norfolk seeking grant for battery energy storage project. Funding for battery energy storage system (BESS) demonstration project is being sought by the Nebraska Public Power District and the City of Norfolk that would be tied to a proposed community solar project planned for that community in 2019.

New Announcements: Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference & SolSmart

2018 Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference Schedule Announced

October 16-17, 2018 | Marriott Cornhusker Hotel | Lincoln, NE

Visit the Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference website to view the 2018 schedule featuring Rob Chapman of the Electric Power Research Institute, an update from Nebraska state senators, and much more.

SolSmart Announcing the Third Annual City & County
Challenge for Solar Energy

The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National League of Cities (NLC) have launched two Challenge Campaigns for local governments to showcase their support for solar energy. This year’s prizes include a “techno-economic analysis” for solar installations on up to five sites, which can help communities better understand the costs and benefits of proposed solar projects.

The Challenges run until Friday, September 14, 2018. Only communities that have not yet submitted a SolSmart Application are eligible for the Challenges. Existing SolSmart designees may not participate. But even if your community is not eligible, we encourage you to spread the word to your neighbors. Visit the NACo and NLC blog posts for more information and entry requirements.

SolSmart Case Study

Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, a coalition of Chicago-area communities, advised 15 municipalities and counties and successfully led them to earning SolSmart Bronze, Silver, and Gold designations. MMC took a collaborative approach, setting up bi-weekly conference calls with all 15 communities, which generated unique ideas and easily facilitated the exchange of resources and information. Thanks to SolSmart, MMC and the communities that participated were able to develop effective strategies to make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar, tailor-made to each community.

Read More about Metropolitan Mayors Caucus experience.

How the SolSmart Solar Energy Program Helps Communities Go Solar

By Tina Casey, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit

Until recent years, businesses seeking on site solar energy had to negotiate a thicket of regulatory glitches and permit issues for solar installations. Practically every solar buyer had to reinvent the wheel, leading to increased costs at the least, and insurmountable obstacles at the worst. Fortunately, those days are fading into memory as the solar market matures. In the latest sign that it’s getting easier to go solar, 200 US cities and counties — accounting for a population of almost 60 million people — have signed on to the SolSmart solar engagement program. Read more here.

SolSmart Website
SolSmart Designees
Lincoln, Nebraska is a SolSmart Designee, with the goal of achieving the highest level: Gold. See: Lincoln Environmental Action Plan (PDF)

These May 16 SolSmart webinars discuss the application process.

  • Webinar for Community-Based Application: 2pm Central TimeRegister here.
  • Webinar for the Organization-Based RFP: 3pm Central TimeRegister here.

200 Communities Are Now SolSmart Designees!

Today, with the designation of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, SolSmart marked the 200th community nationwide to achieve designation as SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze!  These 200 designees are in 35 states and the District of Columbia and represent over 59 million Americans.

The application process is now open for the third round of SolSmart Advisors. SolSmart Advisors provide no-cost, hands-on technical assistance in communities that are selected through this competitive application process. Each Advisor works in a community or region full-time for approximately six months.

SolSmart is accepting applications for both 1) Communities interested in hosting an Advisor, or 2) Organizations interested in serving as Advisors. Learn more here.

Attend SolSmart webinars on May 16, 2018 to find out more about the process.

  • Webinar for Community-Based Application: 2pm Central Time. Register here.
  • Webinar for the Organization-Based RFP: 3pm Central Time. Register here.

Examples of actions SolSmart communities have taken to make solar
more affordable and accessible for homes and businesses:

  • Cutting permitting costs and saving money for customers. For example, West Palm Beach, Florida started a “walk-through” permit process that takes as little as 15 minutes.
  • Engaging with community members to encourage solar development. For example, a SolSmart Advisor helped the cities of Goshen and South Bend, Indiana launch Solarize campaigns, which allow residents to come together to install solar at a discounted cost.
  • Reducing zoning obstacles to solar. For example, Brownsville, Texas adopted a zoning ordinance that will help facilitate the growth of new solar projects.
  • Streamlining inspection processes. For example, Pima County, Arizona launched a “remote inspections” process to provide same-day approval on solar and other projects.
  • Encouraging local job growth. Solar energy employs more than 250,000 Americans.
    A SolSmart designation positions a city or county to bring these jobs to the local community.
  • Other actions SolSmart communities have taken include installing solar on government buildings, developing “solar-ready” construction guidelines, integrating solar PV with energy storage, hosting community-wide solar workshops, and training local government staff.

Visit SolSmart.org for more information.

Potential Models for Nebraska Communities: Solar Power Hour locations announced for Johnson County Solarize program

IOWA CITY — Nearly two dozen public meetings have been scheduled to help educate area residents on Johnson County’s Solarize program — which incentivizes private solar development through volume purchasing prices. Similar to last year’s Solarize program in Linn County, the first of its kind in Iowa, the program is administered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. The Cedar Rapids and Linn County Solarize program concluded with about 607 kilowatts of solar energy added to 105 properties. Read more here.

Photo: Stacks of solar panels. Bulk purchasing is a central part of Solar Group Buy & Solarize Programs.



Opportunity for Nebraska Communities & Organizations: Applications Open for Third Round of SolSmart Advisors

SolSmart has announce the opening of the application process for the third round of SolSmart Advisors. SolSmart Advisors provide no-cost technical assistance in communities that are selected through this competitive application process. Each Advisor works in a community or region full-time for approximately six months. Our previous Advisors have assisted communities in launching Solarize campaigns, modeling solar installations on government buildings, streamlining solar permitting processes, and much more.

There are two application pathways and the appropriate pathway is determined by the lead applicant: 1) a local government; or 2) an organization.

All applications are due by June 4, 2018.

Community-Based Application

This application is for local governments (cities, counties, villages, and towns) that want to apply to host a SolSmart Advisor for themselves and/or a group of communities. The most competitive applications will include a partnership between two or more communities (a “cohort”), with a larger number of communities being preferable. 

Organization-Based RFP

This pathway is for organizations including, but not limited to, councils of government, regional planning commissions, community organizations, and energy and environmental nonprofits. Organizations interested in acting as Advisors will apply through an RFP.

Read SolSmart’s blog post which provides more information on the pathways, application timelines, and a schedule of upcoming webinars on these opportunities.

IREC launches new checklist for inspecting residential solar

By Mark Burger, PV Magazine USA

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has produced an updated Model Inspection Checklist for Residential Rooftop PV. This 15-page document facilitates a process for local inspectors and installers in plan review and field inspection steps, from structural analysis to signs and labels to be posted. Continue reading here.

Photo: Bob & Gina’s home in Lincoln, Nebraska – Solar Examples


SolSmart Celebrating 100 City and County Designees – Including Lincoln, Nebraska!

More than 100 cities, counties, and small towns all across America are designated SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze.

Lincoln, Nebraska, currently a SolSmart Bronze Designee, has the goal of achieving Gold. See Lincoln Environmental Action Plan 2017-2018.

Since the SolSmart program, administered by The Solar Foundation, launched in April 2016, it has been providing no-cost technical assistance to help communities improve the business climate for solar energy.

SolSmart is using this “100 communities” milestone as an opportunity for local governments to celebrate what they’ve achieved to date and to invite others to join them.

Check out SolSmart’s map and you’ll see designees are all across the country. They range from major metro areas like New York City, Atlanta, and Chicago; to small towns like Red Wing, Minnesota and Pinecrest, Florida; to rural counties like Inyo County, California and Delta County, Colorado.

SolSmart works with local governments to develop the tools they already have to make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar — no matter the size of the community or where they are located.

Click here to learn how your community can join Lincoln as a Nebraska SolSmart designee.

5 Ways OPPD Is Making the Greater Omaha Community More Solar Friendly for Customer Owners

The first four steps that OPPD has stated it is undertaking to provide customer-owners with the information and tools they need to “go solar” are posted on our Home Page. These will make the solar installation process more streamlined and cost-effective for installers, code inspectors, and customers.  Additionally, OPPD is moving forward on community solar development. (See August 5th update, below).

OPPD is to be commended for taking each one of these steps for all customer owners who want to install a solar system on their homes and/or businesses or who wish to participate in a community solar program.

      • OPPD plans to offer solar installers and code inspectors training on the interconnection process and is currently reviewing three major items prior to that effort. They are:
      • OPPD Distributed Generation (DG) Manual: This document provides the guidance and specifications that inter-connected systems, such as solar arrays, are required to meet prior to going “on-line.”
      • The ConnectDER: Effective July 1, 2017, the ConnectDER has been accepted by OPPD for use on certain Distributive Energy Resources (DER), including solar installations. The device has the potential of creating a “fast track” for residential (net metering) solar applications.  The ConnectDER offers various advantages, including added protection of house circuit breakers and the Distributed Energy Resources installation, itself. Any questions should be directed to Wyndle Young 402-636-3552 or email at wlyoung@oppd.com
        ConnectDER Video
      • OPPD Website: Renovation of the Distributed Generation portion of OPPD’s website.
      • OPPD has met with representatives from 12 different groups, including Nebraskans for Solar, to discuss concepts for community solar projects, and has issued a Non-Sealed Bid Request for Community Solar Proposals (August 5th Update):

Photo: Solar farm on a former landfill. Credit: Energy Center

SolSmart: An Opportunity For All Nebraska Communities

Since the SolSmart program launched in April 2016, 78 communities have achieved SolSmart Gold, Silver or Bronze designations, recognized nationally for making it faster, easier and cheaper to go solar.

Lincoln, Nebraska has achieved the SolSmart “bronze” designation. Recently, Mayor Beutler released the Lincoln Environmental Action Plan 2017-2018. Among the plan’s many goals:

By December 2017 obtain a “gold” designation in the Department of Energy’s
SolSmart program, which measures whether City policy and processes are
solar friendly for residents and businesses that seek to start solar projects.

All cities and counties are eligible to join SolSmart and receive no-cost technical assistance from The Solar Foundation and its partners.

To learn more, visit: http://www.gosparc.org