Solar Energy International (SEI)’s AmeriCorps VISTAs helped pave the way for Delta County, Colorado to receive a Gold designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar. The initial Bronze designation in 2017, also a VISTA-led effort, recognized Delta County for taking measurable steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development. The prestigious Gold designation recognizes further efforts and milestones, including completion of a solar project within the County using the State’s commercial property-assessed clean energy (C-PACE) financing tool and a permitting and inspection training for local municipalities held by Delta County and SEI.

SEI is located in Delta County, and SEI AmeriCorps VISTAs have been working since 2015 on economic revitalization through solar efforts, including launching Solarize programs, creating a Solar in Schools High School Program, and championing the passage of C-PACE in the County.

The designation was announced in Paonia, Colorado at the Engage Energy Conference, and in Delta at the Forum for Coal-Reliant Communities put on by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). SEI then led a tour for the forum participants at the Paonia campus, where officials and representatives from local governments were able to discuss options for encouraging economic development through solar market growth in their communities.

More than 200 cities, counties, and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016, but Delta County’s designation is especially impressive in that it is the second smallest County in the U.S. to receive the recognition. The actions taken by Delta County, its local installers, and its municipalities will help encourage more solar business in the area, driving economic development and creating local jobs.