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City of Austin receives award for advancing solar energy

Mayor Steve Adler, City of AustinThe City of Austin has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy for advancing the use of solar energy in the Austin community.

The SolSmart program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative awarded a gold designation to recognize Austin for its work to improve access to solar energy. The announcement was made at the International City/County Management Association Conference in Kansas City, Mo.

“Austin continues to be a leader in supporting renewable energy and this designation affirms that,” said Jackie Sargent, Austin Energy General Manager. “As a community, we have put an emphasis on conservation and sustainable energy programs to ensure that we continue working toward achieving our emission reduction goals.”

As a SolSmart Gold designee, Austin is receiving national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it easier and cheaper to go solar. To achieve this designation, cities and counties had to share the steps taken to reduce the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system.

Austin Energy, other City departments, and the Austin City Council have worked together to create an environment where installing solar is a streamlined and affordable process. The City of Austin provides an online permitting process for solar installations.  Austin Energy has had an incentive program for more than a decade that lowers the cost of solar and the City has installed solar on more than 50 municipal buildings.

In addition, the City of Austin has solar goals, which have been adopted in Austin Energy’s Resource Generation Plan. Those include achieving 750 megawatts of utility-scale solar and 200 megawatts of local solar by 2025. Austin City Council has specifically adopted goals for customer-sited solar — 100 megawatts by 2025.

“This Gold designation demonstrates our commitment to supporting clean, renewable sources of electricity as an important choice to fight climate change,” said Lucia Athens Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer.  “Advancing solar energy benefits our quality of life by not only reducing the community carbon footprint, but also helping Austin become increasing resilient and adaptive.”

Thirteen other U.S. cities received the gold designation. These cities are the first to receive the designation since the program began in April.

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About SolSmart
SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Learn more at SolSmart.org.

About the SunShot Initiative
The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.

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