The City of Ann Arbor is receiving a Silver designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar.
This designation recognizes the City of Ann Arbor for taking bold steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development. For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Silver designation is a signal that the City of Ann Arbor is “open for solar business.”
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. More than 380 cities, counties and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.
“As part of our A2ZERO Carbon Neutrality plan, the city is committed to working with our residents and businesses to make it easier to access renewable energies such as solar,” said Missy Stults, sustainability and innovations manager. “We are honored to receive SolSmart Silver designation but aren’t stopping there — we are actively working on Gold designation and continually pursuing steps to make renewable energy accessible to all.”
As a SolSmart designee, the City of Ann Arbor is helping solar companies greatly reduce the cost of installations and pass those savings on to consumers. This work, combined with programs such as the Solarize program, is supporting even more local homes and businesses in obtaining affordable, clean and reliable electricity through solar. The actions the city has taken will help encourage solar companies to do business in the area, driving economic development and creating local jobs.
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. This includes evaluating local permitting processes, as well as planning and zoning procedures. SolSmart designees also develop innovations in areas such as market development and finance.
For the City of Ann Arbor, this includes things such as development of an expedited permitting process for residential solar, reassessing and lowering fees for commercial solar development, adjusting setback requirements to allow more rooftop solar, administering numerous solar energy engagement and educational campaigns, and creating a community solar discount program known as Solarize.
Four Michigan communities currently have SolSmart designation: Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Grand Rapids and Ypsilanti. 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 SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. All municipalities, counties and regional organizations are eligible to join the SolSmart program and receive this technical assistance. Interested communities can learn more at SolSmart.org.