The Mid-America Regional Council’s Solar Ready Community Recognition Program honors cities and counties that implement best practices to increase the use of solar energy and take other actions to promote and facilitate solar power installation.
Communities may earn bronze, silver or gold Solar Ready Community status, based on the number of actions taken. Independence earned the bronze award, Kearney earned silver, and North Kansas City and Johnson County both achieved the gold level.
All four communities have included solar energy provisions in their zoning ordinances and posted Solar Ready Construction Guidelines on their websites. Kearney took further actions to earn silver status, placing additional information about solar energy online and issuing a permit for the Platte-Clay Electric Co-op’s community solar installation.
To achieve gold level status, both North Kansas City and Johnson County have completed solar installations at several city buildings and posted more solar information online. In addition, North Kansas City created a solar permit checklist, and Johnson County provides solar training through its Contractor Licensing Program.
MARC developed the Solar Ready Community recognition program as part of its Solar Ready II initiative, which is dedicated to making it easier for residents and businesses to use solar energy. The Solar Ready II program was funded by a Rooftop Solar Challenge award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. The Rooftop Solar Challenge encourages governments to reduce soft costs of solar installation, such as permits and fees.
Locally, 26 jurisdictions are actively participating in the Solar Ready II program, including the cities of Belton, Blue Springs, Gladstone, Grandview, Independence, Kansas City, Lansing, Leavenworth, Lenexa, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, Mission, North Kansas City, Oak Grove, Olathe, Platte City, Prairie Village, Raymore, Raytown, Roeland Park, Shawnee and Sugar Creek, as well as Clay, Jackson, Johnson and Wyandotte county governments.
Nationally, MARC has partnered with the National Association of Regional Councils to replicate its model for encouraging solar energy use in nine metro areas across the country, working with regional councils in central New York, northwest Indiana, southwest Florida, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Dallas, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C.
In 2015, MARC recognized eight jurisdictions — Belton, Clay County, Gladstone, Kansas City, Lee’s Summit, Liberty and Raymore, Missouri, and Shawnee, Kansas — as Solar Ready Communities.