The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center’s Solar Outreach Partnership team has had a busy year already, providing technical assistance to over ten local government entities and publishing seven written resources. The Solar Outreach Partnership, a program under the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, aims to reduce the non-hardware, or “soft”, costs of solar through local government education and technical assistance.
The Center’s Solar Outreach Partnership team presented at three educational “solar 101” workshops already this year in Dubuque, IA, Bangor, ME, and Muskegon, MI. These workshops provided local government officials with an introduction to solar soft costs and the different actions local governments can take to reduce these. A Triangle-area solar 101 workshop is currently in the works for this summer.
NCCETC also presented at a more in-depth solar policy workshop in Missoula, MT and is set to present at a similar workshop in Roswell, NM in May. Policy workshops are intended to help municipalities that are interested in improving their local solar policy, but may not necessarily know where to start, think through where their city is already at and what their best opportunities to cut soft costs and grow the market are.
NCCETC has also been busy providing direct technical assistance to local government entities working to implement various soft cost-cutting actions. One such technical assistance project is a customized residential guide to going solar for the Delaware State Energy Office, which will explain solar basics and the options from which residential customers in Delaware can choose- financing options, rate options, and available incentives. This guide will also include a detailed analysis of bill savings Delaware customers may expect to see from solar in different utility territories.
The East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA), a regional council of local governments based in Dubuque, IA, is also receiving assistance from NCCETC. ECIA is currently looking at financing options to install a solar array on their Dubuque office, and NCCETC is providing information about the different financing models available to ECIA. NCCETC is also analyzing the savings they are likely to receive under each financing model to help the association fully understand their options before making a decision.
Other active technical assistance projects include assisting two southeastern communities, Hall County, GA and Chattanooga, TN, with the creation of customized educational materials. Chattanooga is planning to install several electric vehicle charging stations with solar arrays around the city this fall, and NCCETC is assisting with public education about these installations.
In addition to providing direct technical assistance to local governments, the NCCETC team has been hard at work creating educational resources to aid local governments. In January, NCCETC released Going Solar in America, two reports that examined the financial value residential customers in America’s fifty largest cities currently receive from solar PV. The team also released fact sheets on solar for multi-unit buildings, the residential and commercial investment tax credit, sales tax on solar PV systems, and a case study of the recent Solar Chicago program. The team is currently working with Meister Consultants Group to prepare a report about municipal utility ownership of rooftop solar.