19 Communities in the Carolinas Achieve SolSmart Designation & Are Ready To Go Solar

During the second day of the 2022 State Energy Conference of North Carolina, conference attendees came together to recognize new and existing SolSmart Communities across North and South Carolina who have worked to make it faster, easier and more affordable to go solar in their jurisdictions. 

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) served as SolSmart advisors to provide technical assistance to local communities to help them receive a national SolSmart designation of Gold, Silver or Bronze based on actions across permitting and inspection, planning and zoning, government operations, community management and market development. The designation recognizes communities that have taken bold steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development.

“There are 19 communities that have achieved SolSmart designation in the Carolinas- 3 in South Carolina and 16 in North Carolina,” said David Sarkisian, Senior Project Manager at NCCETC. Previously, Sarkisian helped the Town of Apex receive Gold designation from SolSmart in 2019.

SolSmart is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 450 municipalities, counties and regional organizations have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.

“Right now, about 102 million people, or over one in four U.S. residents, live in a SolSmart designated community,” said Danny Falk, a Project Manager at IREC. Recently, SolSmart also recognized its first designees in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. 

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. For a local government, this includes evaluating local permitting and inspection processes, as well as planning and zoning procedures. SolSmart designees also develop innovations in community engagement, government operations, and solar market development.

In October 2021, the NCCETC joined the DOE’s challenge for 60 more communities to improve their local solar practices and get recognized through the SolSmart program by March 2022. Staff at NCCETC focused on helping local governments expand solar energy use in Southeastern states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas and Alabama.

“SolSmart Advisors provide SolSmart a multiplier effect,” said Liz Bowen, Senior Project Manager at NCCETC. “As SolSmart Advisors, we have helped reduce communities’ workload by giving them comprehensive assistance so they can meet solar energy goals and achieve SolSmart designation.” 

SOLSMART DESIGNATED COMMUNITIES IN THE CAROLINAS

  • Apex, North Carolina – Gold
  • Asheville, North Carolina – Gold
  • Boone, North Carolina – Gold
  • Carrboro, North Carolina – Gold
  • Cary, North Carolina – Gold
  • Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Gold
  • Chatham County, North Carolina – Gold 
  • Durham, North Carolina – Gold
  • Greensboro, North Carolina – Bronze
  • Greenville, South Carolina – Bronze
  • Holly Springs, North Carolina – Bronze
  • Morrisville, North Carolina – Gold
  • Orange County, North Carolina – Silver
  • Raleigh, North Carolina – Silver
  • Wilmington, North Carolina – Bronze
  • Yadkin County, North Carolina – Silver

As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. The latest round of SolSmart Advisors will be focused on helping underserved and under-resourced communities achieve SolSmart Designation. SolSmart designees are now in 42 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Interested communities can learn more at SolSmart.org.