To become one of the most sustainable cities in the country, Atlanta has worked to make it easier for residents to go solar. Through streamlined permitting processes and other changes, Atlanta’s solar efforts are leading to results and attracting national attention. On May 8, Atlanta received national recognition by earning a SolSmart Gold designation, the Department of Energy’s highest honor.
“The City of Atlanta is proud to receive the SolSmart Gold Designation in recognition of our path-breaking leadership with solar energy,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “We launched the Solar Atlanta program in 2015, and are now installing solar panels on 28 municipal buildings, saving money and reducing our carbon emissions. With our new, streamlined permitting process, we are also sending the message that solar works for our residents and property owners.” Since 2015, Atlanta has seen a 15% increase in the number of solar jobs in the metro area, according to The Solar Foundation’s Solar Jobs Census 2016
As, Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, director of the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, describes it, making it easier for residents to go solar is a key part of achieving Mayor Kasim Reed’s goal to “make Atlanta the most sustainable city in the U.S.”
“As solar installation becomes more prevalent and more attractive to property owners, the City of Atlanta wants to be sure we’re doing our part to make the permitting process as streamlined and efficient as possible, without sacrificing best standards and practices,” Benfield said. “The rise of solar in Atlanta leads to a brighter and cleaner today, tomorrow and beyond.”
Not only is Atlanta’s work earning national recognition, but local industry groups are also excited by what they see. In October of 2016, the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GA Solar) applauded the City of Atlanta for adopting a new, streamlined permitting process that is expected to speed up approvals for rooftop solar installations in the city. Don Moreland, chair of the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GA Solar), who worked closely with the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and other solar stakeholders to develop the process, said, “On behalf of the GA Solar board of directors, I congratulate Mayor Kasim Reed and his expert staff in the Office of Sustainability for their leadership with policies that encourage and facilitate solar adoption,” said Moreland. “We hope that other Georgia cities and counties will see the economic and environmental benefits this brings and create their own permitting process.”
Atlanta’s work includes developing a process to approve certain solar permit applications over the counter; and a proposal to create a new solar installation on an urban farm with the capacity to capture and store solar energy.