Clean energy begins in the community. Local governments have a pivotal and often underappreciated role in bringing new solar, wind, and energy efficiency to their residents and businesses.

IREC helps cities, counties, and small towns use policy tools and resources to drive the growth of clean energy, address climate change, and create new jobs.

SolSmart: Making Cities and Counties “Open for Solar Business”

SolSmart is a national program that has helped nearly 500 local governments reduce barriers to solar energy use for residents and businesses. It provides no-cost technical assistance to help municipalities and counties achieve SolSmart designation, a sign that the community is “open for solar business.” 

The results of the SolSmart program speak for themselves. An independent evaluation found that SolSmart increased a community’s solar capacity by 69 kW per month on average — a 67% increase. The study estimates that as a result of this added capacity, $10 million in taxpayer funds for SolSmart led to $1-2 billion in additional solar investment!

Today, over 138 million people live in a SolSmart-designated community. Designees can be found in 43 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

SolSmart is led by IREC and the International City/County Management Association, and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Sustainable Energy Action Committee

Led by IREC, the Sustainable Energy Action Committee (SEAC) provides a national forum for stakeholders to address code enforcement and permitting for solar installations and energy storage projects. This forum brings together local officials including building and fire departments, contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, testing labs, and other clean energy stakeholders.

Clear and comprehensive procedures on permitting, inspection, and related areas are essential to ensure the safety and quality of solar and solar-plus-storage systems. This collaborative project will help identify and solve problems and achieve public safety objectives. Like the SolSmart program, it will also help reduce the non-hardware “soft costs” of solar and energy storage.

IREC has led SEAC since the spring of 2020 under a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Puerto Rico: Clean Energy and Resilience

IREC is committed to helping Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands move toward a clean energy future. We lead groundbreaking programs to support solar energy, battery storage, and a more resilient electricity grid.

The Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator (PRSBA) is a program to support solar workforce development, finance, and microgrid development in Puerto Rico, led by IREC in partnership with Pathstone Corporation, Inc. This program is bringing together businesses, community members, other nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and solar energy advocates to transform Puerto Rico’s energy system, working together to achieve a renewable and sustainable future.

Speeding Up Rooftop Solar With SolarAPP+

IREC is a proud partner on SolarAPP+, a new automated permitting platform for residential solar energy systems. SolarAPP+ is a collaborative effort to foster rooftop solar adoption by making it easier for local governments to quickly and safely approve most rooftop projects for installation.

Local jurisdictions have worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other partners to test and pilot the new software. In summer 2021, the platform will be launched for widespread use. 

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