Fremont, California Earns First-Ever Platinum Designation From U.S. Department of Energy SolSmart Program

SolSmart
SolSmart-Council-Chambers

Fremont, CA (Feb. 7, 2024) — The SolSmart program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy, has announced that Fremont, California is the first-ever recipient of the SolSmart Platinum designation. This designation recognizes Fremont for outstanding leadership at the local level, including a strong focus on the just and equitable deployment of solar energy.

The SolSmart program offers no-cost technical assistance to help local governments adopt nationally recognized best practices that advance solar market growth. Over 500 cities, towns, counties, and regional organizations—home to over one third of U.S. residents—have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.

SolSmart is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Fremont, California is the program’s first-ever Platinum designee, a new level of SolSmart designation that recognizes high-impact local achievements to advance solar energy use and make this clean energy resource more widely accessible. Fremont originally earned SolSmart Gold designation in 2016 and has committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2045.

“DOE would like to congratulate the city of Fremont on being the first-ever SolSmart platinum designee and commend the city for prioritizing clean energy for its residents, including automated permitting with the adoption of SolarAPP+,” said Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. “DOE encourages cities throughout the United States to take advantage of the assistance SolSmart provides to enable American homes and businesses to better access affordable and clean solar energy.”

“Fremont’s achievement of the SolSmart Platinum designation marks a significant milestone in our commitment to a sustainable and clean energy future,” said Fremont Mayor Lily Mei. “By actively promoting the adoption of renewable energy and streamlining the solar permitting process, we are empowering our community to reduce our community-wide greenhouse gas emissions and advancing our vision towards a climate ready Fremont. This remarkable designation is a credit not only to our dedicated City staff but also to the unwavering commitment and active participation of our incredible community. Together, we stand proud of this extraordinary achievement, which showcases the collective effort and shared vision of a brighter, greener future for all.”

In order to achieve SolSmart Platinum designation, the City of Fremont:

  • Adopted instant permitting through the SolarAPP+ program,
  • Posted public metrics and numerous online resources for residents interested in adding solar to their homes,
  • Installed solar PV on multiple city-owned properties,
  • And undertook community partnerships to equitably expand solar in the city by leveraging funds from foundations and state government. That included partnerships with affordable housing developers, and groups such as ICLEI and Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley.

These initiatives set Fremont apart in the extent to which it has adopted nationally-recognized best practices to accelerate deployment of solar energy, and provide an example for other communities to follow.

“Fremont is a powerful example of how local governments play a key role in convening developers and nonprofits and connecting them with state- or federal-level incentives. By making these connections, a municipality can have a really positive impact that is much larger than what any one actor could accomplish alone,” said Kelly Aves of the National League of Cities, a SolSmart partner organization.

“Fremont has embraced best practices that make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar,” said Brandy O’Quinn, Program Director—SolSmart at IREC. “Their focus on equity as part of the clean energy transition, including creative partnerships that are improving the lives of all residents, makes them stand out as a national leader.”

As other communities look to expand solar energy within their jurisdictions, Fremont offers a bright example.

SolSmart designees can be found in 43 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Any city, town, county, or regional organization is eligible to join the program and work toward Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum designation. Interested communities can learn more at SolSmart.org.