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Local News

Will County receives award for solar-related initiatives

County has simplified process for residents to use solar energy

National Association of Counties Project Manager Jack Morgan (right) and The Solar Foundation Project Manager Chris Walker (left) presented the SolSmart Bronze award to Samantha Bluemer, Energy & Conservation Specialist in the Resource, Recovery, and Energy Division of the Will County Land Use Dept. at the NACo conference held July 21-24 in Columbus, Ohio.
National Association of Counties Project Manager Jack Morgan (right) and The Solar Foundation Project Manager Chris Walker (left) presented the SolSmart Bronze award to Samantha Bluemer, Energy & Conservation Specialist in the Resource, Recovery, and Energy Division of the Will County Land Use Dept. at the NACo conference held July 21-24 in Columbus, Ohio.

JOLIET – Will County has secured an accolade for its environmentally friendly agenda and policies.

The county received a SolSmart Bronze designation from the International City/County Management Association for being a solar-leading community in the 2017 SolSmart Program. The award was presented this past weekend at the National Association of Counties annual conference in Ohio.

The SolSmart program is part of the SunShot Initiative, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, a national effort to drive down the cost of solar electricity and support solar adoption. 

County Executive Larry Walsh Sr. signed a “solar statement” in 2016 supporting the reduction of barriers to residential solar development to initiate Will County’s participation in the SolSmart program.

I am proud of the efforts of our Land Use Department to encourage the use of solar power in our county,” Walsh said in a news release. “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.”

SolSmart has inspired simplified zoning ordinance language around residential and utility-scale solar. “Alternative Energy” is now an option on Will County’s Building Permit Application, accompanied by the Will County Residential Solar Permitting Checklist & Guide. Additional efforts include enhanced training for permitting and inspection staff and increased public resources regarding solar energy systems and consumer protection, the release states.

Will County Energy and Conservation Specialist Samantha Bluemer said when building the Residential Solar Permitting Checklist & Guide, the county kept resident usefulness and understanding as top priorities.

“Now residents can know exactly what is required for this unique project type and can feel more confident applying for a permit,” Bluemer said in the news release.

Will County was awarded the designation in part because of its efficient building and zoning processes, the release states. The newly adopted online Public Portal allows the public to apply, pay for, and receive building permits remotely and offers inspection scheduling options. 

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