LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — When the sun shines on Lee's Summit Tuesday, it will be shining on the country's 200th municipality to earn an "open for solar business" designation.
The nationwide group Solsmart announced the gold-level recognition early Tuesday morning. The designation is based on the city's commitment to solar power.
A lot of the award-winning work happens behind the scenes, with changing zoning and permitting policies. But Lee’s Summit is also considering placing solar panels on the roof of the animal shelter. A high school student presented the idea last year.
Lee’s Summit worked with the Solsmart group to focus its policies on solar. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office and led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), SolSmart provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar. Its overarching goal is to help governments "move toward a stronger, more resilient and sustainable future."
The local coordinator for the program said every time she sees solar panels she thinks of the jobs and business opportunities they can create for a city.
"I always sort of pause and check it out. I think that it's really nice to see, especially solar installed in public places," explained Laura Machala, who works for the Mid-America Regional Council.
Lee’s Summit joins Kansas City, Missouri, Gladstone, Missouri, and about eight other cities in the area to achieve some level of recognition for being solar friendly from Solsmart.