By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The City of Miami Beach recently received a “gold” designation from SolSmart, marking the highest rating for a community in the national program. Currently there are seven total communities in Florida with the gold status.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, SolSmart recognizes communities that have taken key steps toward addressing local barriers to solar energy by making it faster, cheaper and easier to go solar.
“Since 2017, our city staff has made significant strides in easing the process for residents and businesses to pursue solar energy,” noted City Manager Jimmy L. Morales. “I’m proud to see how far we’ve come and will continue to go. The future of solar in Miami Beach is a bright one.”
In 2017, Miami Beach was awarded the bronze designation. Since then, the city has made significant strides to further solar development by streamlining the process for residents and businesses to make the switch and reducing the time and costs associated.
SolSmart uses objective criteria to award communities points based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. Communities that take sufficient action are designated either gold, silver, or bronze.
As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. All cities and counties are eligible to join the SolSmart program and receive this technical assistance.
In addition to reducing the time and cost associated with adopting solar systems, the Miami Beach was applauded for creating a dedicated webpage with information on the city’s solar incentives; passing the Urban Heat Island ordinance requiring that new construction install sustainable roofing systems, including the option of solar roofs; and conducting extended staff training on solar technology, permitting and planning review best practices.
Also earlier this month it was announced that the City of Coral Gables is receiving a “bronze” designation from the national SolSmart program. Coral Gables developed a solar submittal checklist to help streamline the permitting process; waived City solar permit fees, and provides PACE financing to help business and homeowners go solar.
Last year it was reported in the South Florida Times that Miami-Dade County (currently bronze status) Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava is focused on the county seeking designation as a SolSmart Gold County.
At the time she said, “I look forward to Miami-Dade becoming an even more welcoming place for solar energy development,” said Commissioner Levine Cava.
“Solar is a critical component of our climate resilience efforts and key to Miami becoming a leader in solar jobs in Florida. By seeking SolSmart Gold status, we show that we’re serious about putting sunshine to work in the Sunshine State.”