Get Your Codes On!

Learn About New Electric and Fire Codes for Solar Safety
AND Have a Say in 2020 Updates

For solar market growth to continue in a safe and sustainable way, we must expand our training of individuals who come in contact with solar technology through their jobs in other professions, for instance local building planners and inspectors and firefighters. Quality solar training for these allied industry professionals is imperative, to enhance an individual’s expertise – both for safety and quality assurance – and to add to the professional development toolkits available to their profession.

One way IREC is moving this bar forward is by offering a series of educational forums on solar codes and safety. With recent updates to the national building and electrical codes, there are important changes to know that affect the safe installation of PV systems.

If you live in or near San Francisco, or you or an associate will be at Intersolar North America July 12, I encourage you to look at this focused half-day Solar Codes and Safety Forum and consider attending or share the opportunity with someone else who might be interested.

Industry experts will walk attendees through the latest codes and safety information, offer time for a deep Q&A, and set them up to earn professional Continuing Education Units, available for both code officials and solar installers. The course is specifically designed so a variety of professionals will benefit, including local building planners and inspectors, architects, builders, solar installers, fire officials and others.

IREC is presenting the Solar Codes and Safety Forum – at the Intercontinental Hotel from 9am – 1pm PDT – with the International Code Council’s Solar Rating & Certification Corporation (ICC-SRCC) and the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), which together represent a wide range of code officials and building and electrical inspectors. Registration is through Intersolar. For questions about the program, contact step@irecusa.org (518) 621-7379.

This is one of several in-person training opportunities IREC created for allied professionals across the country in 2017, as part of the STEP program (Solar Training and Education for Professionals), funded by the US Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. In addition, web-based interactive video training is available, with specific free online courses for code officials PV Online Training for Code Officials and firefighters Solar PV Safety for Firefighters Online Course.

With PV system safety and reliability increasingly guided by robust codes and standards, including new 2017 solar provisions in the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) National Electrical Code (NEC), we think it’s important to provide as many opportunities as possible for solar and other professionals to stay current and understand codes related to their work.

I invite you to join us for an interactive free webinar June 15th from 2pm – 3:30pm EDT with national expert Jim Rogers. Participants will hear about new articles in the NEC, such as large scale photovoltaic electric supply stations and energy storage systems, as well as updates to existing provisions like rapid shutdown, and grounding of PV systems. You will have an opportunity to submit your specific questions in advance, or during the webinar. Register.

I hope to see you along the way, as all of us get brought up to speed on the latest codes and their implications for safe, reliable solar.

At the same time, IREC is working with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Solar Energy International (SEI) and the PV Industry Codes Council (PVICC) to help facilitate stakeholder input on the 2020 revisions to the model National Electrical Code.

The process starts with a public input period during which proposals are accepted, and it’s our best time to have an impact on the codes that affect how PV and solar thermal systems are designed and installed. These four partners have come together to organize, support and mentor solar professionals so they are actively involved in the formation and discussion of ideas. We’ll be more effective if proposals for code revisions are presented with industry consensus. So that’s the aim.

If you’re interested in finding out how to stay informed and get involved, here’s a link to nine task groups that have been formed. They’re meeting weekly, still at the ideas stage. So it isn’t too late to have and hear input.

As we learned during the operation of the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards, this work of bringing together technical experts to develop consensus recommendations leads to a better code – one that is easier for both the industry and code officials to understand.  This process will not eliminate all controversies in code development, but does allow the issues to be discussed in the open before the formal proposals are submitted.

 

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