Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County are three of the newest government organizations to be honored as “SolSmart” by a federally funded initiative designed to boost the solar industry.

North Carolina already is one of the nation’s largest solar power producers.

The tree were cited as “bronze” winners among a total of 58 communities that have been recognized since the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot initiative launched last year.

Atlanta is among the “gold” recipients. There also are “silver” designees.

The three N.C. governments were cited for a variety of permitting, planning, zoning and development regulations, codes, community engagement and other efforts designed to boost solar investment.

“Representing more than 29 million people, these cities and counties are cutting red tape to reduce the cost of solar energy at the local level and become ‘open for solar business,'” the group says.

Atlanta was cited for development of “a process to approve certain solar permit applications over the counter; proposed a solar plus storage project on an urban farm; launched a solar landing page on the city’s sustainability website; and created a streamlined permitting pathway for small solar systems.”

SolSmart says stakeholders in solar-focused efforts benefit from:

  • Eliminating red tape and making approval processes more efficient can save local governments time and money, helping communities better manage constrained budgets and limited taxpayer resources.
  • Improving local processes for going solar can improve business prospects for solar companies. More than one-third of solar installation companies say they avoid serving communities because of permitting difficulties.
  • Reducing solar “soft costs” can increase return on investment for solar customers. Complex or poorly-defined local government processes can add up to $2,500 to the cost of going solar.

Learn more about the program at: