FOR RELEASE:    Friday, April 7, 2017

CONTACT:           Peter Rykard, [email protected]

Director of Planning

Keith Fugate, (610) 447-7751

Building Code Official

Eight Communities in the Delaware Valley Join SolSmart Program to Encourage Local Solar Energy Growth

April 7, 2017 — Cheltenham Township, the City of Chester, Edgmont Township, Lower Merion Township, Media Borough, the City of Philadelphia, Pottstown Borough, and Upper Merion Township have all joined SolSmart, a national program that provides official recognition and expert technical assistance to help communities expand solar energy development at the local level. Participation in SolSmart will help show these communities have taken steps to grow the local solar market by making solar more affordable for residents and businesses while encouraging new economic development and jobs.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart recognizes communities that adopt programs and practices that cut red tape and lower the costs of going solar. SolSmart is administered by a team of national experts led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association.

SolSmart grants designation to cities and counties at the gold, silver, and bronze levels. Designation is based on a system of prerequisites and points that shows communities have met uniform, national criteria for encouraging solar market growth.

To receive SolSmart designation, communities must take action to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Reducing these costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers. Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning; permitting, interconnection, and inspection; financing; customer acquisition; and installation labor.

SolSmart provides no-cost technical assistance from a team of local and national solar experts to help cities and counties achieve designation. These experts assist communities seeking to adopt programs and processes that will lower soft costs and encourage solar energy growth. These communities also applied and were awarded SolSmart Advisors to provide personalized, one-on-one technical assistance. The Advisors, who are employees of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, are currently working to help these eight communities achieve designation as quickly as possible.

A SolSmart designation is a signal that a community is “open for solar business,” offering public recognition that the community is a favorable place for solar energy growth. SolSmart is open to all cities and counties across the nation. Other communities seeking to join the program can learn more at SolSmart.org.