Over the past year towns and cities along Colorado’s front range—starting with Denver—have been recognized as Solar Friendly Communities for their efforts to make it easier for their residents to go solar. Now Carbondale is helping spread the Solar Friendly Communities badge to the rest of Colorado, becoming the first Western Slope town earn the distinction of being a solar friendly community.
The Solar Friendly Communities program is a voluntary program set up by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) and supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) under its Solar Rooftop Challenge. It’s designed to reduce the soft costs of solar (non-solar equipment related costs). Under the program cities and towns can take a series of actions that make going solar easier. For instance, they can simplify the solar permitting process, reduce the time it takes to get permits and reducing the cost of permits. For instance, in Denver a permit for a residential solar project is $50 and can be processed within a day.
Carbondale earned 940 points of 1600 possible points in the Solar Friendly Communities’ rating system, according to COSEIA. “The town has worked on a variety of ways to make solar permitting smoother including: Posting requirements in an online checklist, capping fees at $100 per PV or solar thermal permit and encouraging solar energy in town planning documents,” the organization said. Its efforts earned it the Silver Certification under the program.
Carbondale residents also have access to a number of incentives. The Community Office for Resource Efficiency, CORE, also has rebates available for Carbondale and Roaring Fork Valley residents of up to $3,000 for photovoltaics and $6,000 for solar thermal. CORE also offers low-interest rate loans to lessen the upfront costs of solar.
"Carbondale has long been a solar leader and we are delighted to honor the town as the Western Slope's first Solar Friendly Community,'' said COSEIA’s Rebecca Cantwell, senior program director for Solar Friendly Communities. "Carbondale shows that communities of all sizes can make it easier for citizens to go solar.''
"Carbondale is honored to receive recognition for our efforts in promoting energy generation through solar,'' said Carbondale Mayor Stacey Bernot. “We have worked hard to incentivize and promote carbon reducing measures such as solar through our programs and codes. Our strong local solar businesses allow our citizens to accomplish sustainable projects that benefit the individual, our town, and beyond. Carbondale will continue to be a leader in renewable energy and leave a lasting legacy for the next generation."
In becoming a Solar Friendly Community Carbondale joins the City and County of Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, Fort Collins, Arvada, Nederland and Boulder County.