Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Embracing Solar Across Dane County


In recognition of our leadership on solar energy, Dane County, Wisconsin achieved SolSmart Platinum designation. Dane County is the first county government in the nation to earn the prestigious SolSmart Platinum designation. The SolSmart Platinum designation means that Dane County has displayed exceptional achievements in building a solar-friendly community. 

Dane County's journey to the SolSmart Platinum designation was a collaborative effort, with four local municipalities—Village of McFarland, Village of Mount Horeb, City of Middleton, and City of Sun Prairie—joining forces with the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) and our Office of Energy & Climate Change (OECC). The six local governments all pursued SolSmart designation simultaneously, leveraging each other’s efforts. Together, these communities are rolling out various initiatives to make installing solar arrays easier, showing their commitment to clean energy. The communities have been meeting monthly to coordinate their SolSmart efforts. Because of these efforts:

Other community designations are still in process.

The SolSmart partnerships highlight the importance of working together to solve sustainability issues and make positive changes locally. I served as the point person coordinating Dane County’s SolSmart application. One of the aspects I found valuable was having the opportunity to learn about the strategies of other communities during our monthly meetings. Some of our SolSmart efforts were complementary, such as OECC and CARPC partnering to host trainings on planning/zoning and permitting/inspections that local municipalities could earn points by attending. Additionally, all the local governments had to meet requirements about posting information on our websites, prompting many joint efforts. Pursuing SolSmart designations collaboratively produced remarkable outcomes.

"Dane County is delighted to be recognized as SolSmart Platinum. This designation reflects our firm commitment to expanding everyone's access to clean energy, and I am hopeful our achievement will inspire more municipalities and counties to pursue SolSmart designations, said County Executive Joe Parisi in a press release about the achievement. Under Parisi's leadership, Dane County became the first county in Wisconsin to achieve 100% renewable offset electricity in 2023. The SolSmart Platinum designation is a testament to Dane County's dedication to sustainability and collaboration. 

In addition to the six local governments pursuing SolSmart designations right now, the City of Fitchburg is a SolSmart Bronze designee and the City of Madison is a SolSmart Gold designee. In total there are more than 20 local governments in Wisconsin with SolSmart designations. 

Local governments achieve Solsmart designation by meeting established criteria based on national best practices for building solar-friendly communities. The SolSmart team of experts offers no-cost technical assistance and resources to help communities implement these practices. Those that meet the criteria are designated SolSmart Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze. 

SolSmart is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Since the program launched in 2016, over 500 cities, towns, counties, and regional organizations have achieved SolSmart designation.

As Dane County celebrates its SolSmart Platinum designation, we aim to set an example for communities nationwide. Stay tuned for more updates as Dane County continues to lead the charge toward a brighter, greener tomorrow.

Sara Pabich

Sara Pabich

Climate Data Assistant

Sara recently graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Economics and Environmental studies. As the Climate Data Assistant, Sara supports the Office by importing county facility energy and water use data into EnergyCAP Software, assisting with tracking fleet and fuel usage, and generating reports to track overall energy production and use. .

Thanks for checking out our blog!

The Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change maintains this blog as a way to offer:

  • Behind-the-scenes insights into our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across Dane County; and
  • Helpful 'what you can do' articles that will help you take action at home, work or school.

To be sure that you don't miss new blog entries, subscribe to our email updates.