Linn County receives Gold designation from SolSmart for solar energy

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LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Linn County has been given a Gold designation from the SolSmart program for making it easier, faster, and more affordable for places in the county to go solar.

The U.S. Department of Energy's national organization SolSmart helps governments create solar energy in their communities.

"Linn County is helping solar companies greatly reduce the cost of installations and pass those savings on to consumers. This allows even more local homes and businesses to obtain affordable, clean, and reliable electricity through solar," Linn County Supervisor John Harris said.

Harris said the steps the county has taken will encourage solar companies to do business in the area. By creating more business in the area, local jobs will be created and the economy will develop.

To receive a SolSmart Gold designation, cities and counties must make changes to their processes to reduce the money and time it takes to install a solar energy system.

The following actions contributed to Linn County receiving the designation:

• Create and make available an online checklist detailing the steps of Linn County’s solar permitting process
• Provide a streamlined permitting pathway for small photovoltaic (PV) solar systems (<15kW) with turn-around time of no more than 3 business days
• Conduct a review of solar permit fees for residential and commercial solar
• Review zoning requirements and identify restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit solar PV development
• Adopt zoning ordinance amendments to remove restrictions impacting the development of solar PV
• Allow solar by-right and as an accessory use in all major zoning districts
• Eliminate excess inspections and consolidate inspection trips for solar PV
• Support or host a community-group purchase program (e.g., Solarize Linn County) and workshop open to the general public and/or county staff explaining solar PV opportunities and policies

Since its launch in 2016, more than 150 cities, counties, and small towns have received SolSmart designations.