Columbia receives national award for going solar

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COLUMBIA – The city of Columbia has received an award for using more solar power.

The SolSmart gold award was given to 14 communities across the country for making it faster, easier and cheaper to go solar.

“It’s actually a reward for doing a lot of things in the community to make solar energy really thrive, and the resources available through this partnership with SolSmart will help us in the future become even better at making sure solar is a part of our future,” said Columbia Water and Light spokesperson Connie Kacprowicz.

This is the first year this award has been given out and it is a part of the SunShot initiative, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Columbia will also further its efforts for more solar energy by implementing new residential building codes on Oct. 1.

“If you’re building a residential home, you will also take into consideration what the load of putting solar panels is on that roof and making sure that down the line that if someone wants to add solar panels that they can,” Kacprowicz said.

She said there’s been a 55% increase in people going solar from 2014-2015, and expects that to rise even more with solar energy becoming cheaper.

There are about 90 customers who use solar panels in Columbia.

Kacprowicz said those are not the only people in Columbia benefiting from solar panels.

“If you have a solar energy system and you produce more than you use that extra can go back out into the Columbia’s system and be used by other Columbians,” she said.