Solar-Friendly Local Governments
ARC recognizes the important role that renewable solar energy plays in the ongoing sustainable development of our metro area. We hope to support our local governments in decreasing barriers to rooftop solar to make our communities more resilient and environmentally friendly. Solar power reduces strain on our energy grids during peak demand hours and improves our air quality through zero emission energy generation. In addition, rooftop solar supports local solar developers, promotes job creation in Georgia, saves money on energy costs for municipalities and consumers, and creates a more resilient energy grid for our communities.
Accordingly, ARC is pursuing Regional Organization designation with SolSmart. SolSmart is an initiative by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council to encourage local governments to expedite residential solar permitting, increase adoption of renewable energy and decrease the environmental impacts of energy use.
ARC strives to assist local governments in decreasing operational carbon emissions through building portfolio efficiency and clean energy opportunities. If you or your local government is interested in improving your building portfolio’s energy performance, please reach out to us. To further support this work, ARC is currently seeking federal funding for a regional clean electricity plan for local governments in metro Atlanta. If funded, we will be proactively reaching out to interested local governments and engaging in a stakeholder process.
Getting Started on Solar
- Step 1: Read our Planning and Zoning Guidance.
- Step 2: Decide if SolarAPP+ is right for your permitting department and processes. SolarAPP+ is a free online tool that reviews residential solar and storage applications for building, fire and electrical code compliance, processes payments and issues permits.
- Step 3: Consider becoming a SolSmart designated community.
Solar Maps and Potential
- Google’s Project Sunroof uses satellite imagery to estimate the dimensions/size of solar array for buildings in your municipal portfolio.
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PVWatts Calculator estimates the generation potential of planned solar installations.
- Southface’s Georgia Solar + Storage Energy Map shows residential, non-residential, and utility solar installation data across Georgia. It includes scalable features, including number of solar installations, solar capacity, annual solar production, number of storage installations and max battery power.
Financing and Incentives
- Energysage provides tools for analyzing the average total costs of solar installation by system size in Georgia, ranked reviews of solar installers, and information on available solar tax credits, rebates and incentives.
- Browse possible federal and state tax incentives available to your local government through the Database of Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
- Solarize programs allow communities to use a wholesale purchasing approach to reduce costs for on-site solar installation while simplifying the permitting and installation process.
Solar Rights and Procedures
Resources for Finding a Contractor
- The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners site hosts a directory of certified solar contractors to assess the feasibility of solar installations.
- Submit for solar quotes from licensed, pre-screened solar installers at EnergySage.
- The Clean Energy Association maintains a directory of solar installers across the state.
More Solar Resources for Local Governments
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Community Shared Solar Guide offers detailed guidance on community solar projects which can offer solar energy benefits to residential sites that may not necessarily be suitable for direct solar installation on behalf of a community, utility and third-party.
- Additional NREL resources for cities and counties can be found at their Solar Decision Support Resource Portal, including training modules and webinars on PV project planning and execution.
- The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy makes many resources available through its State and Local Solution Center.
- The Environmental Protection Agency has a Local Government Solar Project Portal which displays information on various solarization projects pursued by municipalities across the country, as well as providing methods contact to share techniques and strategies.
- The City of Atlanta’s Solar Permitting Ordinance and Georgia Tech’s Model Solar Zoning Ordinance providing example language for solar ordinances.
- Georgia Power’s Solar Programs page has information on solar buy-back programs and home array installation.
- The Georgia Solar Energy Association has compiled a running list of solar training and certification classes across Georgia.
- Interconnection (the process of utility approval for integration of a solar installation into the electrical grid) is a significant part of the process of solar installation on any scale. SolSmart has developed a consultative guide to help local governments through the interconnection process.