Lawrence M. Walsh
The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) has recognized Will County again as a solar-leading community in the 2017 SolSmart Program. The program is a component of the larger SunShot Initiative, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, a national effort to drive down the cost and regulatory obstacles of home and business solar deployment.
Just five months after becoming the first entity in Illinois to be designated under the SolSmart Program, Will County has been named a SolSmart Gold designee for taking bold steps to prepare for the increasingly present solar market in Illinois. Will County remains the only county in the State of Illinois to hold a Gold Designation.
“I am proud of the efforts of our Land Use Department to encourage the use of solar power in our county,” Walsh said. “By including solar energy as an option on our county’s building permits, we are encouraging our residents to utilize solar energy whenever possible. Will County is committed to embracing green practices to preserve our natural resources.”
Instrumental to Will County’s leap to Gold is the Will County Solar Source webpage that offers educational materials, solar project considerations, consumer protection resources, financing option information, and Will County solar news. Will County Energy & Conservation Specialist Samantha Bluemer said, “Of all the strides we’ve taken to reach Gold designation, I find the Solar Source webpage to be the greatest tool for residents and businesses. There are a lot of great solar resources out there. The Will County Solar Source offers concise and useful information from these varying credible sources in one place.”
Online inspection scheduling, involvement in regional solar market conversations, internal transparency regarding permit applications, and active participation in discussions around solar legislation helped Will County distinguish itself as a leader in the areas of solar education and preparedness. Will County Building Division staff largely contributed to Gold status with increased training of permitting and inspection staff. This training will better prepare county staff to safely review solar plans and ensure projects are properly developed and commissioned.
“The changes in our policies, practices, and procedures that this Gold status recognizes show how we are adjusting to meet the needs of a new, emerging industry,” said Curt Paddock, director of the Will County Land Use Department. “Will County promotes economic development and quality of life by efforts like this one that prepare us for the future.”
For more information about the designation, visit the website: www.SolSmart.org
To explore the Will County Solar Source, visit the website: http://www.willcountyillinois.com/County-Offices/Economic-Development/Land-Use/Resource-Recovery-Energy/Solar-Source