By Marie Puleo
Pompano Beach has made a commitment to become more solar friendly and has been accepted to participate in SolSmart, a U.S. Dept of Energy-funded recognition program for communities that have taken steps to make it faster, easier and more affordable for home and business owners to invest in solar energy.
A designated SolSmart advisor will be working with Pompano Beach to streamline its permitting, planning, zoning and inspection process for home or small business solar installations. By meeting certain criteria, the city can achieve a SolSmart Gold, Silver or Bronze designation. The process could involve making revisions to the city’s code of ordinances.
“The City is proud of our expedited permitting program,” said Assistant Development Services Director Jennifer Gomez. “We look forward to identifying any perceived barriers in our codes and finding ways to further facilitate solar installations.”
In addition to benefitting solar customers, the SolSmart designation is meant to send a signal to solar installation companies that the city supports local solar energy development, which can help attract them to the community and promote economic growth. The designation also signifies that the city is committed to a cleaner environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Participation in the SolSmart program was arranged through the South Florida Regional Planning Council. The council reached out to the 71 municipalities in the three counties it serves – Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe – and received letters of commitment to pursue SolSmart designation from 15 of them, including Pompano.
The project will be getting underway for these cities over the next few weeks, and will last for nine months. About 200 communities across the U.S. have received a SolSmart designation.
According to Gomez, in the past five years, 41 residential properties and two commercial properties in Pompano Beach have installed solar power systems, and 12 residential properties have active permits for the installation of a solar power system. In addition, the Development Services Department has issued permits for 15 solar pool heaters, three solar water heaters, three solar attic fans and one solar camera system.
City facilities featuring solar installations are the parking lot on the northeast corner of A1A and Atlantic Boulevard, and a parking lot behind The Foundry restaurant, which have a total of 18 solar-powered lights and 21 solar-powered, multi-space parking meters.
The City is not only striving to make the process easier for residents and businesses to invest in solar energy, but plans to expand the use of solar installations at its own facilities.