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State board defers decision on who can install PV systems

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  • star-advertiser / october 2012

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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