City of Edmonds recognized for solar energy promotion efforts

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Solar panels on the Frances Anderson Center roof.

The City of Edmonds has received national recognition for its efforts to promote solar energy.

SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, has awarded a Bronze designation to the city for promoting solar energy production and usage. According to an announcement from the city Tuesday, Edmonds is the first city in the state to achieve this designation.

“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,” the announcement said.

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 going solar. Communities that take sufficient action are designed either Gold, Silver or Bronze. Even with its initial Bronze designation, Edmonds is already close to achieving what it needs to earn additional points to qualify for Gold, the city said.

“We are very proud of this recognition because it reflects our city’s dedication to protecting and improving both our environment and our economy,” said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling. “Promoting solar energy helps make our community both more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.”

To achieve this 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 city said.

Some examples of promoting solar energy use in the city include:

  • Supported a community solar project on the Frances Anderson Center
  • Sponsored a reduced-cost “solarize” campaign in Edmonds
  • Reduced the time and cost needed to obtain both residential and commercial solar permits
  • Provided for online permit applications using a simple checklist.

“We are very pleased to be the first jurisdiction in Washington State to have obtained SolSmart designation. We’re also very close to wrapping up the last item we need for the Gold award, which will be quite an achievement,” said City of Edmonds Planning Manager Rob Chave.

As part of the SolSmart program, all participating communities are eligible to request no-cost technical assistance from a team of national solar experts to help them achieve a higher designation. The SolSmart technical assistance team is led by The Solar Foundation.

SolSmart aims to designate 300 communities during the three-year, federally funded program.

 

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