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State board defers decision on who can install PV systems

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 03:53 p.m. HST, Dec 17, 2013

<br />star-advertiser / october 2012<br />Radford High School was part of a PV pilot program with panels installed on the roof of the gym and two other buildings.<br />

A state licensing board today deferred a decision on the extent to which licensed electricians need to be involved in the installation of solar photovoltaic systems.

Members of the Board of Electricians and Plumbers said the issue is complicated by the fact that their decision will have to take into account new and innovative ways that PV panels are being incorporated into the design of buildings.

The issue has been on the board's agenda for three consecutive monthly meetings without a resolution. The board has heard testimony from both a labor union representing electricians and a trade group representing solar PV companies. The discussion has focused on who is qualified to install the racking systems that hold up the PV panels, and how those systems are grounded.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1186 maintains that a licensed electrician must either perform or supervise the grounding of all pieces of a PV system from the racking to the wiring connecting the system to the electric meter.

However, the Hawaii Solar Energy Association says a licensed solar PV installer can handle much of the racking installation up until the point the system is wired into the meter.

The Board is scheduled to revisit the issue again at its next meeting on Feb. 11.

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localguy wrote:
Sad to see the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1186 is trying to do what unions do best, featherbed work projects. Any well trained person can simply install and connect solar panels together, they are designed this way. It does however take either a trained electrician or one to supervise the worker connecting the panels to a home or business electrical system. The IBEW has failed to keep up with technology, still think this is the 60s where you may have needed more electricians. The world has moved on, sad to say the IBEW is so far in the rear view mirror they cannot be seen. Really sad.
on December 17,2013 | 05:29PM
krusha wrote:
Botched installations of these solar panels have shown to cause fires, so not sure why people think it's a trivial thing to get a licensed electrician to assist in installing these panels. With so many of these things getting installed, you figure people want to make sure they are installed correctly and according to building code, especially when people's lives are at stake. If you need an electrician to install a water heater, then I don't see why you don't need one to install electric solar panels that will be connected to the electrical grid.
on December 18,2013 | 05:58AM
fstop wrote:
Next proposal is to require a licensed electrician to plug in your Christmas lights.
on December 18,2013 | 01:20AM
hawn wrote:
Or they are going to have to supervise you while you put he lights on the tree
on December 18,2013 | 04:10AM
Tahitigirl55 wrote:
This union needs to stay out of the solar business. It is just that they want money. Some of these guys working at the solar company do have a State of Hawaii Electrical License and they choose not to join the union because when there is no work you have to sit on the bench at least this way they have jobs. The union just wants their cut.
on December 18,2013 | 04:30AM
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