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Friday, December 19, 2008

MREA supports rules to require certified installers on solar electric projects

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Two visitors at the MREA Energy Fair in June 2008 check out a solar oven on display in front of the MREA's solar training structure.

From a statement of the Board of Directors of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) concerning proposed rulemaking by the Wisconsin Department of Commerce regarding Act 63, relating to a state electrical wiring code; regulation of electricians, electrical contractors, and electrical inspectors:

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) would like to point out that it is in the best interests of the people of Wisconsin for the Department of Commerce to take steps to ensure that renewable energy systems that generate electricity:

1. are installed in a safe and reliable manner;
2. are properly & efficiently configured to maximize energy production, and equipment lifespan;
3. are not unduly burdened with unnecessary labor and installation costs. . . .

Based on the collective experience of the solar professionals at the MREA, the best way to ensure the safety of Wisconsin’s citizens (with respect to solar electric systems) would be for the Department of Commerce to require that all solar electric systems be installed by NABCEP certified installers or persons who are legitimately in the final stages of NABCEP certification as recognized by the Wisconsin Focus On Energy program. We believe that requirements of Act 63 can be fulfilled by having a licensed electrician make the final connection to the AC power system.

Our many years of experience have shown that the Department could allow NABCEP certification to suffice for the installation and connection of solar electric systems without any compromise to the safety of the people of Wisconsin, if Act 63 allowed such leeway.

Installation of safe and reliable small wind power systems (up to 100 kW), also requires a very specialized set of skills that are not taught to electricians. Unfortunately, NAPCEP certification does not yet exist for the installers of small scale wind systems, although it is likely that a certification system will be in place by 2010. When this certification standard is available, Department of Commerce adoption of this standard will be the best route to ensuring safely installed small wind systems. Presently, utility-scale wind systems usually are installed in custom engineered systems by licensed electricians, but utility-owned systems are already exempt from Act 63.


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