10/16/2017 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/17/2017 23:39
The city of Aurora recently earned national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier and cheaper to go solar.
SolSmart-a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative-awarded a bronze designation to the city for taking important first steps to encourage solar energy growth.
A SolSmart designation is a signal that the community is 'open for solar business,' helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs.
'Aurora's comprehensive plan contains a sustainability component, and because renewable energy systems on facilities save energy and money and retain jobs, we are committed to making solar installation easy in Aurora,' said Karen Hancock, a planning supervisor at the city of Aurora.
To achieve the SolSmart designation, cities and counties must have taken steps to reduce solar 'soft costs,' which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money that it takes to install a solar energy system.
Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning, permitting, financing, customer acquisition and installation labor. Soft costs now represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. Reducing those costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.
For instance, the city of Aurora's zoning code permits solar in all zone districts. A streamlined inspection process saves contractors time and money so they can move on to the next job. A single webpage summarizes all of the city's requirements and resources, and fact sheets are available for both solar electric and solar hot-water heat systems.
The SolSmart designation team, led by the International City/County Management Association, evaluates communities and awards them points based on the actions they take to reduce soft costs and other barriers to going solar. Communities that take sufficient action are designated either gold, silver or bronze. As a bronze designee, the city of Aurora may earn additional points to qualify for silver or gold in the future.
Launched in April 2016, SolSmart aims to designate 300 communities during the three-year, federally funded program. More information on the program is available at SolSmart.org.