As demand for energy increases, many communities are seeking ways to meet this demand with clean, safe, reliable energy from renewable sources such as sun and wind. Fortunately, many of the key technologies that can unlock the power of these renewable resources are available on the market today. While the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to fund research and development (R&D) to improve solar technologies, DOE is also focusing on accelerating a robust nationwide market for the currently available technologies. Development of a nationwide market requires overcoming barriers to widespread adoption of solar energy technologies. These barriers include complicated procedures for permitting and connecting systems to the grid, financing challenges, a lac of awareness of solar energy solutions among key decision makers, and a lack of trained installation contractors. Local governments are uniquely positioned to remove many of these barriers, clearing the way for solar markets to thrive in their locales. Representatives of local governments who understand and prepare for policy and market changes can optimally position their communities in the emerging renewable energy economy. To accelerate the nationwide adoption of solar energy, DOE established partnerships with 25 “Solar America Cities” around the United States. Local organizations and policy makers in each Solar America City are taking a comprehensive approach to bringing solar to their cities. Their work lays the foundation for a viable solar market and offers a model for other communities to follow. As a result of the progress made in the 25 Solar America Cities, in 2010 DOE announced a new effort to share the best practices developed with thousands of local governments across the nation. As part of this evolution, DOE created a broader program called Solar America Communities to reflect the intention to promote solar market development within cities, counties, and all other local jurisdictions. This is a comprehensive resource DOE created to assist local governments and stakeholders in designing and implementing a strategic local solar plan. This guide includes examples and models that have been field tseted in cities and counties around the country. Many of the examples are the direct result of DOE’s Solar America Communities program.
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