BOONE — The Town of Boone has received a “SolSmart Gold” designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier and more affordable for homes and businesses to switch to solar power.
In addition to the designation, Boone also won a Special Recognition Award for achieving over 60% of the available points in the Licensing and Inspection Criteria and Community Involvement categories. As the winner of the SolSmart Special Recognition Award, the City of Boone joins an exclusive and diverse group of communities across the United States that have not only met the minimum requirements, but exceeded the high standards set by the Criteria Advisory Committee. SolSmart.
“The Town of Boone continues to lead the way and serve as an example of how local government can partner with citizens to explore exciting new ways to prepare for our future. I am especially proud of our staff who have worked to implement this program and help Boone take another step down the path to sustainability,” said City Manager John Ward.
This designation recognizes the City of Boone for taking bold steps to encourage the growth of solar power and remove barriers to solar development. For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Gold designation is a signal that the town of Boone is “open for solar business.”
SolSmart is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the International City/County Management Association and funded by the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 400 cities, counties and small towns have earned the SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.
Through many steps, including passing regulatory ordinances that clearly permit accessory solar power systems in all zoning districts, waiving permit fees for such systems, and participating in community conversations about the he importance of alternative energy sources, the City of Boone is helping to reduce installation costs and pass those savings on to consumers. This enables even more homes and local businesses to get affordable, clean and reliable electricity from solar power. Actions taken by the Town of Boone will help encourage solar companies to do business in the area, spur economic development and create local jobs.
As of February 2022, all municipal electricity for the Town of Boone is generated from 100% renewable energy sources; this is possible thanks to the partnership between the city’s two energy providers, New River Light and Power of Appalachia State and Blue Ridge Energy.
To receive the designation, cities and counties modify their local processes to reduce the time and money required to install a solar power system. This includes assessing local permitting processes, as well as planning and zoning procedures. SolSmart appointees also develop innovations in areas such as market development and finance.
SolSmart uses objective criteria to award points to communities based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. Communities that take sufficient action are designated gold, silver or bronze.
Under the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides free 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.