ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

I continue to work on a local grassroots effort to eliminate permits for residential installs, *if installed by licensed and certified installers*. I need to know Counties or Cities that do not require a permit and gov't agency inspection for "residential" PV install. The information will be used in presentations to argue for the elimination of permits and gov't agency inspections, *if installed by licensed and certified installers*. To date I have entire State of Vermont, Entire Province of Western Australia, Mesa AZ, Gilbert AZ. Also any County that doesn't even have a Building Dept. Thank you

Comments

  • Eric LEric L Solar Expert Posts: 262 ✭✭
    Re: ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

    Mike, I'm not an installer or industry professional, but I'm fairly sure Alabama has no additional permit requirements for solar, with the possible exception of one city (Huntsville). My basis for saying this is:

    -the Alabama Solar Association, who state on their website that Alabama has no requirements for solar installation,
    - this document which I found on the web.
    - my Alabama (Mobile) county public works office which told me that there are no additional requirements for solar.
  • Mike at Energy CommissionMike at Energy Commission Solar Expert Posts: 50 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

    where is the info at the ASA website?
    Eric L wrote: »
    Mike, I'm not an installer or industry professional, but I'm fairly sure Alabama has no additional permit requirements for solar, with the possible exception of one city (Huntsville). My basis for saying this is:

    -the Alabama Solar Association, who state on their website that Alabama has no requirements for solar installation,
    - this document which I found on the web.
    - my Alabama (Mobile) county public works office which told me that there are no additional requirements for solar.
  • Eric LEric L Solar Expert Posts: 262 ✭✭
    Re: ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

    It's down the page. Do a find (on the page) search on "no requirements for solar installation".
  • BrentBrent Solar Expert Posts: 64 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

    Not exactly on topic but I would like to comment. I am a retired electrical engineer and currently review dozens of PV system permit applications per year for both home and large commercial PV systems for my county building dept. Out of every 10 applications by a licensed/certified contractor installed system I usually find half non-compliant with code, mostly 690.64(B)(2) and especially temperature derating of conductors in conduit on rooftops, supply side taps, proper grounding and many other areas.

    The burden would be on the inspector to "catch" these code violations B][U]assuming there is an inspection[/U][/B. In the case of incorrect conductor ampacity, it could result in a large expense to replace it [especially if a long buried run] or upgrading of an existing service panel after system installation to meet the 120% rule.

    Perhaps most of these non-compliant code errors are due to poor contractor training and certification or being lazy. I don't know. I am not a contractor. If PV system permits [and plan checks] are eliminated I would plan to have a good fire suppression system available.

    Brent
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,006 admin
    Re: ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

    I agree with Brent... There appears to be a wide range of experiences regarding licensed electricians.

    Perhaps there needs to be a instruction set for a "generic" set of requirements (i.e., roof mounted array, specific wire gauge/type rating for specific array currents, etc.) and not let the electrician pick and choose from the code book.

    If the system does not meet the generic system design--then a permit will have to be pulled.

    My guess, by the time such a system is setup (and some sort of updates when new codes are enacted), the utilities in the larger/sunnier states will have already hit their 5% of installed load (or whatever) requirements--And will be putting a whole bunch of new requirements in-place to slow down/stop home installed solar power systems.

    Add other agencies (such as fire departments and others) that are getting more into the solar power safety/requirements mix--It will never be a complete, self supporting system. Once there is some sort of agreement--Something new will come up.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

    All of these regulations/restrictions entice homeowners to do illegal installs which are very often not safe. So there you have the paradox of bureaucratic attempts to make things safer actually accomplishing the opposite.

    Hence the OP's desire to simplify the permit process, making it reasonable enough so that it is not an incentive to bypass it entirely.
  • BrentBrent Solar Expert Posts: 64 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

    Perhaps one approach would be to for county building departments to provide a set of detailed guidelines for licensed PV installers that meet code and AHJ requirements. The installer would leave a drawing with the bldg. dept but there would be no permit granted. The contractor would be free to install the PV system but would pay a small fee to have an inspector review the on site installation which would include proper disconnects for utility and fire service, ampacities, OCPD's, bus ratings etc.. The contractor would have to agree that they would be responsible for making any code compliant changes [$$$ good incentive to do it right the first time!].

    As an aside; somewhere in there is a line of responsibility. If a home burns down due to a faulty installation who is responsible? One expects their licensed contractor to apply the rules and do a decent job [see 110.12] but most homeowners are not able to determine what a decent job is or if the rules have been applied. If a home burned down because a conductor was under rated going through an attic and someone was injured or dies the contractor would end up putting in light switches at the local pen as a full time resident. Of course this could happen with any electrical installation but PV is more complex.

    Brent

    Brent
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

    i am all for safety, but i feel that solar is overly scrutinized and even demonized to a point. it is far safer than the stuff coming in from poles. why don't fire departments require disconnects for utility power? utility power is far more dangerous than the limited capacity of solar and solar has circuitry to stop operations called anti islanding. it is fear of the unknown as even electricians and inspectors are somewhat in the dark when it comes to solar and to a point influences by the utilities themselves as they feel threatened. another example is limiting the space on a roof pvs can sit because firemen need access, but then they have no restrictions on metal roofs that stop them cold. i can guarantee that removing a pv is far easier than an equal section of roof area on a metal roof. they downright pick on solar installations.
  • Mike at Energy CommissionMike at Energy Commission Solar Expert Posts: 50 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: ATTN: Professional Installers, your help needed to reduce permitting red tape

    I have spoken with the building officials in the four jurisdictions mentioned, including Australia. They all say the same thing, local law makes the installer liable for structural failures and fires, additionally, they don't see panels flying off the roofs or fires. This makes me think of brake jobs at the local auto shop, the shop owner knows better than to hire an uncertified and incompetent brake mechanic. I have called jurisdictions in some of the more rural and less economically advantaged areas and right out the gate they imply, but won't admit for certain (they want the plan check fees) that the roofs will need structural engineering and the design will need an electrical engineers stamp. Anyway, the more jurisdictions I can find that don't require permits and inspections will help the effort to reduce red tape and costs. Thank you all for your replies.
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