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Charlottesville, Albemarle County join program to reduce solar energy costs

solarThe City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County have recently teamed up and joined an elite cohort of cities and counties participating in SolSmart, a national program that guides localities in lowering the costs and barriers for the community to go solar and encourages solar energy development.

Last summer, Charlottesville was recognized as one of the nearly 30 communities nationwide that committed to SolSmart as an “Early Adopter“. Now Charlottesville and Albemarle County are aiming to be the first communities in Virginia, and among the first 50 communities in the nation, to achieve a national SolSmart designation–Bronze, Silver, or Gold. The City and County were selected together in a competitive process as one of eleven host communities nationwide to be granted a program-funded SolSmart Advisor. The Advisor will be working full-time for six months to provide expertise and dedicated support to encourage solar energy growth locally and to help achieve SolSmart designation.

To receive a SolSmart designation, communities must take action to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning; permitting, interconnection, and inspection; financing; customer acquisition; and installation labor. Reducing these costs will lead to savings that are passed on to consumers.

“Charlottesville has been a leader in environmental stewardship for years. Together with Albemarle County, we are taking that commitment to the next level with no-cost technical assistance from a SolSmart Advisor. With new tools and strategies at our disposal, we’ll be able to grow even more great local jobs in an already burgeoning renewable energy sector and have a shot at earning the nationally recognized SolSmart designation. That’s good for our economy and our planet.” Kathy Galvin, Registered Architect and Charlottesville City Councilor

“Albemarle County has committed to reducing energy consumption and adopting cleaner sources of energy. Our achievements in the SolSmart program will provide great benefit to the community by making solar energy more accessible and affordable for everyone. I hope our efforts will empower more homeowners and businesses to go solar, generate their own clean energy, and save money on their electric bills,” said Norman Dill, Vice-Chair of the Board of Supervisors.

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