Ames Receives SolSmart Silver Award
The City of Ames received designation as a SolSmart Silver award winner for its contributions to promoting solar energy. The award was presented this week at the American Planning Assocation’s annual meeting in New York City. SolSmart is a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative.
As a SolSmart Silver designee, the City of Ames is receiving national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar. 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.
“This is an exciting time for solar energy, and we are looking for ways to continue to move forward on sustainable energy production,” said Ames Electric Services Director Donald Kom. “We remain focused on developing a community solar array with customers – including Iowa State University – contributing to the cost and benefiting from the electricity.”
Through its Smart Energy program, Ames Electric Services currently provides incentives for placing solar cells on a private home or business. The community solar project would open up solar power for others who don't want to make a personal investment in equipment, but want to purchase renewable energy.
To achieve designation, cities and counties take steps 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. 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 these costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.
The SolSmart designation team, led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), evaluates communities and awards them points based on the actions they take to reduce soft costs and other barriers to solar. Communities that take sufficient action are designed gold, silver, or bronze. As a silver designee, the City of Ames will now have the opportunity earn additional points to qualify as gold.
Launched in April 2016, SolSmart aims to designate 300 communities during the three-year, federally funded program.
SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs.
Learn more at SolSmart.org.
PHOTO: Ames Planning and Housing Director Kelly Diekmann accepted the SolSmart Silver award on behalf of the City of Ames at the American Planning Association annual meeting in New York City.