April 19, 2021
The City of South Bend is receiving a Gold designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar. For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Gold designation is a signal that South Bend is “open for solar business.”
“I’m proud of our zoning and planning team for streamlining the deployment of solar energy in our city,” said Mayor James Mueller. “South Bend will continue to take steps to generate solar jobs locally and realize the opportunities within a growing clean energy economy.”
The City of South Bend was designated as a “solar-friendly, solar-ready” community by the SolSmart program, earning the highest level Gold designation. SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association, and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.
The City joins nearly 400 municipalities and counties across the country including 6 other cities and counties in the region: Elkhart, Marshall, and St. Joseph Counties, and the cities of Goshen, Nappanee, and Plymouth. The city has been working towards the milestone since 2017, with technical assistance from the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG).
The City reviewed internal processes including permitting and inspections, trained code enforcement officials and firefighters, included clarifying language in the new zoning ordinance effective in 2020, installed solar on three city buildings, and provided education workshops.
The City partnered with MACOG on Solarize programs in 2017 and 2019, which educated hundreds of residents and facilitated a group-buy program. Solarize brought 19 new solar homes to the city and 115 to the region overall. For more information on how to go solar, visit the city’s Solar Energy webpage.
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 municipalities, counties, and regional organizations are eligible to join the SolSmart program and receive this technical assistance. Interested communities can learn more at SolSmart.org.