Thinking SolSmart: Counties Shine in National Solar Recognition Program

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During the Resilient Counties Forum on July 23rd of the 82nd NACo Annual Conference & Exposition in Franklin County, Ohio, fifteen counties were honored among their county peers for becoming SolSmart-designated communities for taking key steps to advancing solar energy.  These designations exemplify the counties'  commitment to making it faster, easier and cheaper for residents and businesses to go solar.  Further, by cutting red tape and removing local barriers to solar development, these counties are also blazing a path for economic growth and job creation by tapping into the rapidly growing solar industry.  

Counties Shine

SolSmart Gold

Counties achieving the Gold-level designation are among the leading communities in the country in creating solar-friendly processes, such as a streamlined permitting pathway (3 days or less) and allowing solar by-right as an accessory use in all major land use zones.  

Sonoma County, Calif.

  • 1st Place in the 2017 SolSmart County Challenge

Pima County, Ariz.

  • 2nd Place in the 2017 SolSmart County Challenge

Adams County, Colo.

  •  Advancing up from SolSmart Bronze

Charleston County, S.C. 

  •  1st Place in the 2016 SolSmart County Challenge
  •   Advancing up from SolSmart Silver  

Washington, D.C.


“Adams County continues to support the development of a strong renewable energy economy, including the development of solar resources across our county. Through the SolSmart program, the county has removed barriers to access for solar energy and made it easier for every home and business to go solar.” –Julia Ferguson, Sustainability Coordinator, Adams County, Colo.  


SolSmart Silver

Counties achieving the Silver-level designation have met key SolSmart program criteria to advancing solar development including provided cross-training of inspection and permitting staff on solar PV.  

Linn County, Iowa

Orange County, N.C.

  •  Advancing up from SolSmart Bronze

SolSmart Bronze

Counties achieving the SolSmart Bronze designation level have taken key steps to removing local barriers to solar energy, including removing zoning restrictions prohibiting solar and creating an online permitting checklist for solar.  

Albemarle County, Va.

Athens-Clarke County, Ga.

Contra Costa County, Calif.

DeKalb County, Ga.

Franklin County, Ohio

Marin County, Calif.

Miami-Dade County, Fla.

Will County, Ill.  


“I’m proud of our efforts to become national solar leaders in the green energy economy, and specifically solar energy.  We remain committed here in Franklin County to supporting environmental sustainability and jobs of the future.” –Commissioner John O’Grady, Franklin County, Ohio 


More information on county solar best practices and county case studies can be found in NACo publication report: Thinking SolSmart: County Strategies for Advancing Solar Energy

Counties interested in receiving high-profile national designation and no-cost solar technical assistance from the SolSmart program can contact NACo Program Manager Jack Morgan or visit




About Jack Morgan (Full Bio)

Program Manager – Resilient Economies and Communities

Jack Morgan works as a Program Manager for Resilient Economies and Communities on NACo's County Innovations Lab team. He handles community and economic development, resilience, energy and transportation grants and programs. Jack also serves as the NACo staff liasion to the National Association of County Planners(NACP). 

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