SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, has awarded a bronze designation to the City of Lincoln for taking steps to encourage solar energy growth. Those steps include reducing the non-hardware costs, such as planning and zoning, permitting, financing, customer acquisition and installation labor. Because those costs represent about two-thirds of the total cost of an installed residential system, reducing the costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.
"As a SolSmart Bronze designee, Lincoln is receiving national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier and cheaper to go solar," said Frank Uhlarik, City Sustainability and Compliance Administrator. "A SolSmart designation is a signal that our community is 'open for solar business,' helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs."
Uhlarik said his office worked with the Lincoln Electric System, the City-County Planning Department, the City Building and Safety Department and the City Grants Administrator on the application. Kellee Van Bruggen from the Planning Department accepted the award on behalf of the City Monday at the American Planning Association Conference in New York. The SolSmart designation team is led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). As a bronze designee, Lincoln will now have the opportunity to earn silver and gold designations.
SolSmart was launched in 2016 with a goal of awarding designations to 300 communities during the three-year, federally funded program. All communities in the SolSmart program are eligible to request free technical assistance from a team of national solar experts to help them achieve designation. The SolSmart technical assistance team is led by The Solar Foundation.