• Elgin honored in special ceremony for receiving Silver SolSmart designation Illinois now home to more communities earning the distinction than any other state

    Elgin, IL-  In a ceremony packed with local, state and national officials, other leaders and VIPs, Elgin received an award at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont for earning the highly-coveted SolSmart Silver Designation. This important achievement furthers solar power growth in the community with resulting new job creation, economic development and reduced carbon emissions. Twenty-two other communities were similarly honored. 

    The communities “did an exceptional job, working tirelessly in a multitude of ways to earn their designations,” says Geneva, Ill. Mayor Kevin Burns, who chairs the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Environment Committee. 

    The Caucus served as a SolSmart Advisor to 20 communities and was the chief catalyst in the communities’ drive to seek designation.

    SolSmart is a national program designed to recognize communities that have taken key steps to foster the growth of mature local solar markets. 

    Communities that meet the official criteria are designated SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze. SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundationand the International City/County Management Association, and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

    In 2018, the City of Elgin Sustainability Commission formed a solar work group led by Commissioner Erik Anderson. The charge of this group is to support the commission’s participation in the SolSmart program and to advise the commission on what it needs to consider recommending to city council and city staff to help make Elgin more “solar-friendly.” Anderson and the group of volunteers worked diligently with staff to plan and organize community outreach efforts, make information more accessible and improve the permitting process for solar installation.

    "With of the tax credits and financial incentive currently being offered by the state and federal government, there's no better time than now for Elgin residents and businesses to go solar," said Anderson, who is also one of the 28 Elgin residents to have installed solar so far in 2019. "Achieving this designation has streamlined the process of going solar and we are committed to providing the community with opportunities to learn more about it."

    To achieve Silver designation, Elgin earned at least 100 points for adopting solar best practices across eight categories of strategic SolSmart activities. These include updating ordinances to allow solar development in the community more broadly, and training inspection staff on best practices for permitting and inspecting solar systems. 

    For transparency and efficiency, Elgin also created a very important solar installation permitting checklist, and posted it at cityofelgin.org/solar. This not only allows local residents to see the process, but helps those applying for a solar permit to produce the necessary forms far more easily, completely, and quickly.

    With the 23 new designations, Illinois shot past California and Colorado as the state with the most communities that have earned the SolSmart distinction. Indeed, the Chicago region’s solar growth has been striking. Elgin is now one of just 265 cities nationwide to achieve earn a SolSmart designation. The area was the top metro for solar jobs growth in the nation last year, with 1,180 jobs added in 2018 for a total of 4,275 jobs, according to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2018.

    One reason for the Chicago area’s boost is the Greenest Region Compact (GRC), developed by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. This unique document guides municipal sustainability planning and unifies environmental action, regionally, through community collaboration. Its energy goals include advancing renewable energy and enacting policies to support clean energy. (Your community), like nearly all the SolSmart designated communities, signed onto the GRC.

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