NLC Announces Third Annual City Challenge for Solar Energy

July 12, 2018 - (3 min read)

More local solar energy development means cleaner air, increased resiliency, and more well-paying jobs in cities across the country. That’s why we’re launching our third-annual SolSmart City Challenge, a national competition for cities to showcase their support for solar energy, starting this week.

The prizes for the two winners of the SolSmart City Challenge include:

  • Advanced solar technical assistance
    • “Techno-economic analysis” for solar installations on up to five community sites; and/or
    • Drafting and/or review of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for municipal solar installations; and/or
    • Guidance on how to customize a model Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for municipal solar installations.
  • Presentation opportunity on a SolSmart webinar, and
  • Promotion on NLC’s official communication platforms, including the weekly newsletter, blog and social media channels.

The advanced solar technical assistance is a brand-new prize that can help your city better understand the cost and benefits of proposed solar projects, and make an informed decision regarding development. The “techno-economic analysis”, which will be generated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will examine technical performance and financial considerations for proposed solar installations using a suite of modeling tools.

The SolSmart City Challenge has two categories for entry based on city size: 1) small cities with a population of 100,000 or fewer, and 2) large cities with populations greater than 100,000. Two winners will be selected, one from each category, based on a review by a three-person committee that will weigh the feasibility of the request, demonstrated need, and impact.

Requirements for SolSmart City Challenge submittal package include:

  • Solar Statementthat demonstrates the city’s commitment to pursue SolSmart designation
  • A 1-page memo explaining the advanced solar technical assistance request, which includes:
    • Desired prize(s) of the 3 advanced solar technical assistance options outlined above
    • Details of the proposed solar project location(s) and operational use(s) (e.g. a ground-mounted system at a police station, a roof-mounted system at a library, etc.);
    • Reason for selecting the site(s); and
    • Desired outcome/impact for the city.

NLC supports local solar energy leadership and is a proud partner of SolSmart, a national designation and technical assistance program for municipalities funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. SolSmart promotes the use of best practices by local governments to ensure greater ease and affordability for residents and businesses to install and access solar energy. In May, SolSmart celebrated its 200th designee, and the race is now on to see which local government will be number 300.

The SolSmart City Challenge will run from Monday, July 16 until Friday, September 14.

Email Nick Kasza if you’d like to get started on the SolSmart scorecard or learn more about the 2018 SolSmart City Challenge. If you have a story or picture to share about solar energy impacting your community, send it to Nick and it may be featured in a future blog post.

Please note: the 2018 SolSmart City Challenge is open to new submissions only. Cities that submitted a SolSmart scorecard prior to July 16, 2018, are not eligible to participate and receive prizes. Resubmissions, SolSmart Early Adopter Communities and communities with a SolSmart Advisor are also ineligible for the SolSmart City Challenge.

Nick-Kasza_readyAbout the author: Nick Kasza is a Senior Associate with the Sustainable Cities Institute at the National League of Cities. He is part of a team that manages the SolSmart program and helps deliver technical assistance to cities pursuing SolSmart designation.