Boulder, CO — The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) has awarded Boulder its highest designation for Solar Friendly Communities, a program that honors cities for making it faster, easier and more affordable to install solar systems on homes and businesses.
Boulder was awarded platinum status for implementing leading edge solar-friendly practices such as standards protecting solar access and updates to the fire code that support installation of rooftop solar panels. Boulder is the sixteenth Colorado community to be recognized by the program and the second to receive platinum designation.
COSEIA Executive Director Rebecca Cantwell will present a plaque and road sign signifying the achievement to Mayor Matt Appelbaum at the Dec. 2, 2014, city council meeting.
“This recognition honors efforts made by the city of Boulder to streamline solar permitting and encourage more solar energy development,” said Cantwell. “Boulder is a community that clearly understands the value of solar as a resource.”
Boulder has long been committed to solar incentive programs, and this recognition comes on the heels of recent efforts to develop a more integrated and strategic approach. In 2013, the City of Boulder convened a Solar Working Group comprised of more than 20 local experts. The recommendations of the Working Group resulted in permitting processes that have reduced the time and costs associated with installing solar projects – a factor that supported Boulder’s platinum designation.
Solar Friendly Communities began in 2012 as one of 22 Rooftop Solar Challenge programs funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. SunShot is seeking to make solar price competitive with conventional power sources without subsidies by the end of the decade. SunShot funding for Solar Friendly Communities ended in 2013 and COSEIA has supported the program independently since then.
“We are honored to receive this recognition for the hard work and partnership that has put Boulder at the forefront of solar-friendly communities. We have a lot more work ahead as we continue to realize the economic and environmental benefits of deploying local, resilient energy sources,” said David Driskell, executive director of Community Planning and Sustainability.
The Future of Solar in Boulder
Solar is one of Boulder’s best opportunities for local generation of energy, and is likely to be a key contributor to the community’s power supply should the city create its own electric utility.
Currently, there are more than 1,600 solar projects with a capacity of close to 15 Megawatts installed on Boulder homes, businesses and government buildings. Boulder will work closely with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2015 to evaluate the community’s capacity and potential for increased solar.
“The information we draw from this partnership will be incredibly helpful as we prepare to offer new energy services and determine ways to boost our community’s generation potential,” said Heather Bailey, executive director of Energy Strategy and Electric Utility Development. “We are particularly interested in exploring opportunities related to storage technology, enhanced reliability zones and creative financing options.”
Additional work planned for 2015 includes an enhanced web-based tool community members can use to evaluate their own property for solar potential, enhancements to the city’s solar grant and rebate program for low-income and non-profit entities, and a full local generation analysis aimed at identifying additional non-solar resources that support Boulder’s energy and climate goals, such as combined heat and power, biogas and geo-thermal.
The public is encouraged to attend the award presentation at the Dec. 2, 2014, City Council Meeting. To learn more about Solar Friendly Communities, visit http://SolarCommunities.org or contact Rebecca Cantwell at email@example.com.
To learn more about solar in the City of Boulder, or to see the City’s Solar Working Group report visit https://BoulderColorado.gov/Solar. For questions and additional information, contact Lisa Smith, Communication Specialist, at 303-441-1952 or SmithL@bouldercolorado.gov.