Solar Sonoma County becomes Solar Action Alliance

Lori Houston

It’s official: Solar Sonoma County is now the Solar Action Alliance (, a new name reflecting the organization’s expansion to Marin and Napa counties and broadening impact in advancing solar energy at the local level. Solar Sonoma County has become a “chapter” of Solar Action Alliance, which now also includes Solar Marin County and Solar Napa County.

Solar Sonoma County collaborates with local renewable energy professionals and local public policy leaders to provide Sonoma County residents a centralized location for consumer and other resources,services, and technical information to advance clean renewable energy for a healthier, more sustainable future. In addition to expanding its Qualified Contractor, Clean Energy Advocate, and solar workforce training programs first to Marin County and later to Napa County, Solar Action Alliance is developing online, centralized solar permitting tools and resources for each county, as are currently available for Sonoma County. Solar Action Alliance will also lead and support an initiative to standardize solar permitting in Marin County.
“Solar Sonoma County’s successes here in Sonoma County have garnered a lot of interest from surrounding jurisdictions to help them achieve the same,” said Alison Healy, executive director of the Solar Action Alliance. “The solar market has matured enough to allow the original function of our organization to expand. The time has come now to spread our work to other areas and sustain our relevance by leading more local communities toward greater solar capacity and energy efficiency. We have programs ready for replication that simply don’t exist in most parts of the country.
Founded in 2008, Solar Sonoma County began as consortium of local governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals working to mainstream solar energy as part of Sonoma County’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions. Solar Sonoma County’s early efforts focused on streamlining public policies,removing market barriers, and educating
the public to expand local solar capacity and unleash demand. The organization’s numerous accomplishments include:
Leading a countywide collaboration to standardize solar permitting Creating a Solar Implementation Plan as a policy tool for local governments Developing a Qualified Contractor program and Clean Energy Advocate service to protect and support consumers
Establishing an ongoing solar workforce training program with scholarship opportunities
Supporting the launch and success of the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP), providing local solar and energy efficiency project financing through the property tax system(known as PACE or Property Assessed Clean Energy) Supporting accelerated solar growth in Sonoma County, exceeding the initially identified target of 25 new Megawatts of solar from 2008 to 2011 As of June 2013, Sonoma County reached 57 MW of installed solar,making it one of the top ranking solar communities in seven out of eight categories in Pacific Gas & Electric’s service territory. Sonoma County leads 45 counties and 665 communities in terms of total solar photovoltaic (PV) sites and total PV capacity,second only to Napa County in solar PV capacity per capita, based on PG&E data.
“In just five years, Solar Action Alliance has become a frontrunner in leading North Bay communities closer to energy independence,” said Senator Noreen Evans (D‐Santa Rosa). “Their expansion is a testament to the tremendous strides the consortium has made towards reducing our energy consumption and enabling us to better our communities, and
our environment, at a local level.”
In 2011, Solar Sonoma County received a “Steel on the Roof” award for achieving the greatest market penetration among the 25 Solar America Cities originally funded by the U.S.Department of Energy beginning in 2007. This and successive DOE grants supporting the work of Solar Sonoma County are intended to foster model programs, policies, and partnerships for other regions and communities across the nation to adopt. While Solar Sonoma County’s expansion and name change mark a new phase,these developments fulfill the organization’s original,fundamental purpose.
“We have grown from championing the cause of solar locally to taking action on a larger scale with regional and even and impact. The time is ripe for us to take a quantum leap in terms of solar implementation,” said John Haig, founding member and co‐chair of the Solar Action Alliance Board of Directors.
“Our mission encompasses promoting solar by drawing upon lessons we’ve learned in Sonoma County.One of those lessons is that local solar implementation is affected by broader policies. By extending our reach, we gain more opportunities to participate in larger policy decisions. We’re working to combat climate change to secure our children’s
and grandchildren’s future.”
Solar Action Alliance is a nonprofit promoting solar and energy efficiency‐related policy issues, educating and training community members in the field, advocating for a rapidly growing industry, and acting as a clearinghouse for local and regional clean energy activity. Since its inception as Solar Sonoma County,the organization has captured nationwide attention as a model for local communities toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more, visit

Lori Houston
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