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NRVRC earns “Bronze” designation for advancing solar energy growth

NRVRC earns “Bronze” designation for advancing solar energy growth

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The New River Valley Regional Commission is receiving a Bronze designation from the national SolSmart program for advancing solar energy options in the New River Valley. It is only the second regional organization in Virginia to achieve the SolSmart designation.

Nationally there are only seven regional organizations designated by SolSmart. The designation recognizes NRVRC for taking steps to encourage solar energy growth by offering technical assistance on solar planning and permitting to local government and higher education member organizations in the region.

SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 390 cities, counties and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.

SolSmart uses objective criteria to award regional organizations points based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. Communities that take sufficient action are designated either Gold, Silver or Bronze. In the New River Valley two local governments have SolSmart designations: Pulaski County with Gold, and the Town of Blacksburg with Silver.

Speaking about the designation, NRVRC Executive Director Kevin Byrd said, “The regional commission is excited to receive the SolSmart Bronze designation as an acknowledgement of the agency’s efforts to provide technical assistance to our members on energy alternatives. As solar energy becomes more affordable, we are helping position the region to welcome the technology.”

Aphi Fancon, a senior planner with the regional commission, led the agency through the designation process. “We have seen a high level of engagement on the topic with our members,” she said, “and hope to see more pursuing their own designations in the future because it ultimately helps provide citizens and businesses with energy options.”

As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. All municipalities, counties and regional organizations are eligible to join the SolSmart program and receive this technical assistance. Interested communities can learn more at

The New River Valley Regional Commission, one of 21 planning districts in Virginia whose commissions are chartered under Virginia law, encompasses the counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery and Pulaski, and the city of Radford. Its purpose is to promote regional cooperation, to coordinate the activities and policies of member local governments, and to provide planning assistance to local governments. Learn more at

Submitted by Julie B. Phillips

Submitted by Julie B. Phillips

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