City designated as ‘SolSmart Silver’ in national evaluation
Richmond has received the silver designation from the national SolSmart program, recognizing the city’s efforts to make it faster, easier and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar.
This designation recognizes Richmond for taking steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development. The city is one of a handful in Indiana to receive this distinction.
SolSmart is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the International City/County Management Association and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 450 municipalities, counties and regional organizations have achieved SolSmart designation since its start in 2016.
In a news release from the city, Mayor Dave Snow said, “Richmond has always been a city of vision. Once again, we are looking ahead to how we can build an even more attractive and more resilient community for generations to come.”
To receive this designation, Richmond updated its local processes to reduce the time and money it takes to install solar energy systems. The city created an online checklist detailing the required permit, submittals and steps in the community for small rooftop arrays. It trained the city permitting and inspection staff on best practices for solar installations, reviewed zoning code to identify potential restrictions to solar power and posted a document stating that solar panels are allowed in all major zoning districts. This information is at www.richmondindiana.gov/resources/solar-power-in-richmond.
SolSmart uses objective criteria to award points to communities based on their actions to reduce barriers to solar energy growth. Communities that take sufficient action are designated as either Gold, Silver or Bronze.
Richmond secured 145 credits, surpassing the 100 required for silver. The city plans to continue working to secure the 200 credits necessary for gold, as this synergizes with strategies in the city’s new Climate Action Plan. Those strategies aim to connect residents and businesses with on-site solar opportunities, integrate renewable energy into land use and zoning codes and eliminate barriers to residential solar development.
Richmond’s Environmental Sustainability Commission initiated the process for accreditation in late autumn of 2020.
“By making it easier for homes and businesses to go solar, we are helping to create a cleaner and more sustainable energy future for Richmond. By removing barriers and streamlining the process, solar power is now more accessible and affordable for everyone,” Ian Vanness, director of infrastructure and development said, in the news release.
As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation.