Richmond, IN Designated “SolSmart Silver”

Richmond, IN Designated “SolSmart Silver”

Richmond, Indiana is excited to announce that it recently received the Silver designation from the national SolSmart program. This designation recognizes the city’s efforts to make it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar. Richmond is now one of only a handful of municipalities in Indiana to receive this distinction.

This designation recognizes Richmond for taking bold steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development. For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Silver designation is an important signal that Richmond is a welcoming place to do business.

SolSmart is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) 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 the program launched in 2016.

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.”

“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,” said Ian Vanness, Director of Infrastructure & Development.

As a SolSmart designee, the City of Richmond is helping solar companies reduce the cost of installations and pass those savings on to consumers. This allows even more local homes and businesses to obtain affordable, clean, and reliable electricity through solar. Richmond’s actions will help encourage solar companies to do business in the area, driving economic development and creating local jobs.

To receive this designation, Richmond updated its local processes to reduce the time and money it takes to install solar energy systems. This includes evaluating local permitting and inspection processes and planning and zoning procedures. SolSmart designees also develop innovations in community engagement, government operations, and solar market development.

SolSmart uses objective criteria to award communities points 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 7B-7D in the upcoming 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 and has been working together with the Department of Infrastructure and Development since.

Among activities required for Silver designation, the City created an online checklist detailing the required permit, submittals, and steps in our community for small rooftop arrays, trained both our 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 by-right in all major zoning districts. These details are found on the Solar Power page on the City’s website.

As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. SolSmart designees are now in 42 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Interested communities can learn more at SolSmart.org.

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