Leon County One of the First Counties in Florida to Receive SolSmart Gold Community Designation
Through a continued focus on locally developing both commercial and residential solar energy, Leon County has been designated a SolSmart Gold Community. Bestowed by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the gold designation is the program's highest honor recognizing how local governments find innovative ways to make going solar faster, easier and more affordable.
"Being only the third county in Florida to be recognized as a SolSmart Gold community truly demonstrates the County's commitment to supporting renewable and sustainable energy sources," said Leon County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge. "And this designation represents just the beginning of our continued work because we know how important renewable energy is for our community's future."
The designation recognizes Leon County's efforts to evaluate local permitting processes and certain planning and zoning procedures, as well as market development and finance. The SolSmart Gold designation is a major indicator of Leon County’s commitment to making solar energy more accessible and leadership towards the expansion of renewable and sustainable energy sources throughout the community.
"At Leon County, we have continued our focus on reducing barriers to local solar energy development to increase access to renewable energy while also supporting jobs and businesses in the industry," said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. "This recognition would not have been possible without the dedication of our Leon County employees as well as the leadership and support provided by the Board."
SolSmart uses objective criteria to award community points based on the actions taken to reduce barriers to solar energy development. Communities are designated either gold, silver or bronze. To achieve the “SolSmart Gold” Designation Leon County:
- Passed an ordinance in January 2020 that encourages the use of solar energy systems as an alternative and sustainable source of renewable energy by providing a minimal and expedited permitting process with minimal permit costs for prospective applicants;
- Increased permitting efficiencies to offer a three-business day turnaround time for small rooftop solar PV permits;
- Established a goal to increase renewable energy capacity on County facilities by 30% by 2030 as part of the Integrated Sustainability Action Plan passed in April 2019;
- Launched the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program in 2017, enabling an additional financing tool for homeowners and businesses to use for the installation of solar arrays and other energy efficiency and weatherization upgrades.
To receive this honor, Leon County has taken action encouraging renewable energy companies to do business in the area, driving economic development and creating local jobs. The County’s overall goal is to increase renewable energy capacity on County facilities by 30% by 2030.
“Our SolSmart Gold Designation is a reflection of the work that Leon County is doing to encourage solar energy expansion in our community and shows that we're serious about reducing barriers to solar energy adoption," said Tessa Schreiner, Leon County Sustainability Manager. "We remain committed to continuously improving our process and to working with citizens and stakeholders on driving sustainability efforts forward together."
As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provide no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. All municipalities, counties and regional organizations are eligible to join the SolSmart program and receive this technical assistance.
For more information, contact Tessa Schreiner, Leon County Recycling and Sustainability Manager, at SchreinerT@LeonCountyFL.gov / (850) 606-5021 or Mathieu Cavell, Leon County Community and Media Relations, at CMR@LeonCountyFL.gov / (850) 606-5300.
More About SolSmart
SolSmart launched in 2016 and is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 350 cities, counties and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program began in 2016.