IREC, partners push solar training for allied professions

Free webinar
June 15, 2017
12:00-1:30 PM MT

Half-day Forum
San Francisco, California
July 1, 2017

As solar installations continue to grow exponentially, there is an increasing need for other professions to know more about solar technologies. Firefighters, local code officials and electrical and building inspectors need a thorough understanding about solar technologies if the solar sector is to continue growing in a safe and sustainable way.

To meet this need, the Department of Energy SunShot Initiative provided funding to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) to develop Solar Training and Education for Professionals You are leaving WAPA.gov. (STEP). Working with partners in related fields, IREC created a number of training resources for allied professionals whose jobs require some knowledge of solar technology.

IREC’s STEP partners are:

Training online
STEP is presenting Solar Updates in the 2017 National Electrical Code, You are leaving WAPA.gov. an interactive webinar June 15. This interactive webinar will cover new articles, such as large scale photovoltaic (PV) electric supply stations and energy storage systems, and changes to existing provisions like rapid shutdown and grounding of PV systems. Participants will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance, or during the webinar. The event is free and continuing education units (CEUs) are available.

Training in person
For solar professionals in California, an in-person workshop You are leaving WAPA.gov. has been scheduled in conjunction with Intersolar North America in San Francisco, July 12. The half-day training session is one in a series of national forums on solar codes and safety specifically for local building planners and inspectors, architects, builders, solar installers and others who will benefit, including fire officials.

National solar code and technical experts will discuss the most recent solar code updates and impact on those tasked with enforcement. The material will cover much of the same ground as the webinar but in more detail, with an eye on California. Other solar code enforcement considerations, including permitting and first responder safety, will be discussed. After attending this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify three or more solar code updates
  • Explain the impact of one or more solar code changes
  • Navigate to solar code resources, including best practices for permitting

The forum is also eligible for CEUs from the International Code Council, IAEI and North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

Training on demand
In addition to these upcoming training opportunities, STEP offers specific free online training courses for code officials PV Online Training for Code Officials You are leaving WAPA.gov. and firefighters Solar PV Safety for Firefighters Online Course.

For questions about the Solar Codes and Safety Forum contact IREC at 518-621-7379.

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 5/22/17

IREC releases energy storage guide for policymakers

Webinar April 26
1:30-2:45 p.m. MT

A new tool published by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Charging Ahead: An Energy Storage Guide for State Policymakers You are leaving WAPA.gov. provides regulators and other decision makers with specific guidance on key issues for policy consideration, including foundational policies for advanced energy storage—a new generation of technologies characterized by flexible operating capabilities and diverse applications.

The characteristics that make energy storage so valuable and attractive also make it challenging to address in policy and regulatory contexts.

Despite its game-changing potential to transform the electricity system, energy storage is vastly underutilized in the U.S. electricity sector. Its deployment remains hampered by the current features of regional, state and federal regulatory frameworks, traditional utility planning and decision-making paradigms, electricity markets and aspects of the technology itself.

To date, state policymakers and electric system stakeholders have largely navigated energy storage issues without the benefit of a roadmap to inform key regulatory and policy pathways for widespread deployment.

Charging Ahead aims to address that gap by providing an in-depth discussion of the most urgent actions to take in order to enable viable energy storage markets that effectively empower states to take advantage of the full suite of advanced energy storage capabilities. The guide identifies four foundational policy actions states should consider taking:

  1. Clarify how energy storage systems are classified to enable shared ownership and operation functions in restructured markets
  2. Require proactive consideration of energy storage in utility planning effort
  3. Create mechanisms to capture the full value stream of storage services
  4. Ensure fair, streamlined and cost-effective grid access for energy storage system

In addition to these foundational policies, the report provides background on energy storage applications, analyzes regulatory actions states are currently taking, and also puts some context around the valuation of energy storage. Read more.

A free webinar You are leaving WAPA.gov. on April 26 will look at how the report can equip regulators and other stakeholders to integrate energy storage technologies onto the grid. Recommended state policy actions to address energy storage barriers will also be discussed.

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 4/19/17

IREC releases new shared renewables program guide

Artwork by Interstate Renewable Energy Council

The national market for shared renewable energy programs has grown significantly since the Interstate Renewable Energy Council You are leaving WAPA.gov. (IREC) published its Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs in 2009 and the update of those rules in 2013. Today, interest in shared renewables is growing, along with many more mandatory statewide and voluntary utility programs. To stay current with those industry changes, IREC has released the updated Five Guiding Principles for Shared Renewable Energy.

While many of the original principles remain, the modifications are intended to reflect evolutions in the market, as well as the insights IREC has gained from working with states creating the earliest shared programs. These guiding principles highlight the benefits of shared renewable energy programs to participants, the renewable energy industry, utilities and all energy consumers.

The new Five Guiding Principles are also intended to broadly define what constitutes a shared renewable energy program with a focus on the consumer experience. IREC defines “shared renewable energy” or “shared renewables” programs as programs that enable multiple customers to share the economic benefits of one renewable energy system via their individual utility bills (typically through bill credits). Other “community” renewables programs, such as green tariff shared renewables, group purchasing or aggregate net metering programs are not included under the definition.

The five principles in summary are:

  1. Shared renewable energy programs should expand renewable energy access to all energy consumers, including those who cannot install renewable energy on their own properties.
  2. Shared renewable energy programs should provide a fair value proposition to participants and tangible economic benefits on their utility bills.
  3. Shared renewable energy programs should be consumer-centric and accommodate diverse consumer preferences.
  4. Shared renewable energy programs should encourage fair market competition.
  5. Shared renewable energy programs should be additive to and supportive of existing renewable energy programs, and not undermine them.

Additional IREC resources on shared renewable energy programs include:

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 2/15/17

IREC publication explores renewables options for low-, moderate-income consumers

“Shared” and “community” solar programs are making renewable energy a more affordable option for Americans, but spreading those benefits to low and moderate income (LMI) households still poses a challenge for utilities. Shared Renewable Energy for Low- to Moderate-Income Consumers: Policy Guidelines and Model ProvisionsYou are leaving WAPA.gov.  a new publication from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), offers comprehensive guidelines on how to do it with the most meaningful results.
IRECreport

The publication offers information and tools for adopting and implementing shared renewables programs that benefit LMI individuals and households. Utilities, shared renewable energy developers, program administrators and others will gain insight into the unique challenges LMI consumers face to enjoying the benefits of shared renewables programs. Specific case studies examine lessons learned and highlight innovative tools and approaches. Stakeholders will find model rules to provide a strong starting point for discussion and potential implementation.

Low- to moderate-income households (those earning up to 120 percent of Area Median Income) represent approximately 60 percent of U.S. households. These consumers typically spend more of their income on energy costs than higher-income households, so they are in the greatest need of help with reducing their energy bills. Unfortunately, the people in these households often face considerable financial barriers to participating in programs that could help them. Problems like lack of access to capital or insufficient credit can prevent them from benefiting from conservation, energy-efficiency and renewable energy measures such as shared renewable projects.

These first-of-their-kind policy guidelines also consider that moderate-income customers may have different circumstances (such as higher credit scores or higher rates of ownership) than low-income customers. Instead of designing programs that approach all LMI customers as a group, programs that address the range of customers within the LMI category may be a more effective way to reach them.

The publication acknowledges that some barriers are due to policies unrelated to program design. IREC advises policymakers and others to be aware of these restrictions and take them into account when designing programs.

IREC has also produced a four-page quick reference guide to the full LMI report. The guide provides a summary of the key components of the guidelines and model provisions, along with references to the relevant sections in the main report.

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 3/10/16

Introducing IREC’s Updated Solar Career Map

IREC’s Solar Career Map – new resource for training providers
Jan. 14, 12-1 p.m. MST

Update: This webinar is over, but visit YouTube for an overview of the Solar Career Map. You are leaving Western's site.

Join the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) on Jan. 14 for a free webinar on the Solar Career Map You are leaving Western's site., a comprehensive resource covering solar energy occupations.

IREC recently updated this interactive tool to demonstrate the breadth of the industry and its critical occupations, and to highlight the necessity of integrating solar training in related fields. The map describes diverse jobs across the industry and identifies the sorts of experience and credentials necessary to do them well.

Utilities with solar programs understand the importance—and the challenge—of building and maintaining a high-quality contractor pool for installing and servicing customer solar systems. This complimentary IREC webinar offers utility program managers an opportunity to connect with clean energy trainers and others involved in workforce development.

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Access the map’s interactive features, including 40 jobs in four sectors how they are related
  • Apply ideas about how you can leverage the map to make your work more effective
  • Find resources created by IREC and the Solar Instructor Training Network You are leaving Western's site. for community colleges and other solar training providers

The IREC team will answer your questions submitted in advance or during the webinar as time allows.

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 1/5/16

Nominations open for 3iAwards to recognize innovation, ingenuity, inspiration

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council Redirecting to a non-government site (IREC) is calling for nominees for the IREC 3iAwards. The prestigious annual award searches the nation for innovative people, projects and programs that promote and accelerate the sustainable growth of clean energy. The IREC 3iAwards honor innovation, ingenuity and inspiration from the nation’s best in both renewable energy and energy efficiency. 3iAwards

“Every year IREC recognizes those who have creatively developed new approaches to advancing clean energy, because changing the status quo requires determination, innovation and persistence,” said IREC Board Chair David Warner. “With these awards, we honor the people who inspire us with exemplary projects and programs that increase renewable energy use and promote energy efficiency. And we encourage others to build on their successes.”

For the second year, the selection of IREC’s award winners in several categories will be in the hands of the public, with open voting dates to be announced. The opportunity for a variety of stakeholders and the community at large to weigh in brings even greater awareness and acknowledgement of the applicants and awardees. All applications must be received online by June 26, 2015.

IREC recognizes that renewable energy and energy efficiency play equally crucial roles in achieving a sustainable future. Traditionally, government, energy industries and educational systems view them separately, with little collaboration between programs. However, IREC’s awards are inclusive, with a specific award category for “Closing the Divide.” This award highlights innovative examples of initiatives that help close the divide between energy efficiency and renewable energy. Other nomination categories are:

  • Community Renewables Project of the Year
  • State and Local Government Initiative of the Year
  • IREC Accredited Clean Energy Training Provider of the Year
  • IREC Certified Clean Energy Trainer of the Year

Applications from or on behalf of extraordinary people, projects and programs in the clean energy arena will be accepted online through June 26 in all five categories.

The 3iAwards are made possible by the generous support of IREC’s corporate sponsors. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Larry Sherwood at 518-621-7379.

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 5/7/15 

New online solar training targets building code officials – UPDATE!

The limited training of municipal code officials—the individuals who approve proposed plans and inspect and approve installations of photovoltaic (PV) systems—presents a significant barrier to expanding the solar market. To help address this issue, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council Redirecting to a non-government site (IREC) has launched a dynamic new online training opportunity this month through the National Training and Educational Resource Redirecting to a non-government site (NTER). The system provides consistent, effective training to quickly and cost-effectively reach a far greater number of code officials than traditional onsite workshops and seminars could.

The project is part of IREC’s role as the national administrator of the Solar Instructor Training Network, through a grant with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). “Development of the Photovoltaic Online Training (PVOT) project expands the reach and scale of training,” says IREC Executive Director Jane Weissman, “and it creates an avenue for more consistent learning nationwide.”

While the online program is targeted to code officials, to instruct in key issues for granting permits and performing field inspections for residential PV installations, it is also available to others. Read more. Source: IREC News, 10/1/12

UPDATE!

As part of its commitment to invest in skills for American workers, the Energy Department is offering the online training free to building and electrical code inspectors for residential PV installations. There is a nominal fee for obtaining continuing education units through the International Association of Electrical Inspectors Redirecting to a non-government site (IAEI). Participants who want credit should check with their local jurisdiction or state to determine if the jurisdiction recognizes IAEI’s continuing education units.

The PVOT program supports the mission of DOE’s SunShot Initiative, which aims to deliver cost-competitive solar energy by 2020 while creating workforce development opportunities and driving energy innovation across the United States.