The United States is on track to install 4 million residential solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays by 2020. Ensuring that these installations meet current codes and standards is the job of building and electrical inspectors. To help code officials, architects, builders and solar installers keep up with the latest solar codes and safety requirements, Interstate Renewable Energy Council(IREC) has added new informational videos to its suite of training resources.
IREC partnered with the International Association of Electrical Inspectors(IAEI) and the International Code Council(ICC) to develop resources for code officials to learn the key aspects of solar technology related to their trade. The educational videos target a broad audience by highlighting the inspection process. Code officials who have experience inspecting solar installations will be reminded of important details of the process. Inspectors who are new to solar PV will be introduced to essential aspects of the inspection and referred to more detailed training.
“Officials involved in the planning, inspection and permitting of residential solar installations now have access to solar training and education in their office, at home and in the field,” says IREC Director of Workforce Development Laure-Jeanne Davignon. “The wide variety of tools allows code officials new to solar and experienced professionals to learn in the format they choose: in-person, online, printable documents or videos.”
IAEI CEO David Clements called the videos a “must-see” and an excellent resource to educate code officials and inspectors working in the field on residential solar installations. “Training from the NEC®(National Electrical Code), along with other codes and standards, has become a critical combination to ensure a safe installation,” he stated in a press release. “Knowledge and knowing how to apply it will ensure a code compliant installation.”
More than 5,000 professionals have engaged in the PV Online Training since it became available in 2012. The new in-person plan review course is being very well received, too, with more than 2,500 participants to date. Evaluations from participants have applauded the hands-on approach to the material and the way it connects the different aspects of inspection to each other and to real-life scenarios.
For more information on these training opportunities, contact IREC at 518-621-7379.
Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 9/13/17
The free event was held at WAPA’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colorado, and drew strong attendance from every type of utility, especially in the West. As the workshop title stated, the agenda focused on the logistical aspects of building a community solar project and explored ways to make projects more successful. Speakers and participants discussed best practices for analyzing solar development opportunities, writing requests for proposals, engaging internal and external stakeholders, working with contractors and vendors and designing rates.
A panel on pricing challenges included John Phelan from Fort Collins Utilities in northern Colorado. As a pioneer with Rocky Mountain Institute in clean energy and sustainability solutions, the city of Fort Collins has discovered that success brings a new set of challenges. For example, the utility is wrestling with how to design a rate that accommodates both a legacy community solar garden and a new array for qualified low-income customers.
Poudre Valley Rural Electric Cooperative is currently developing a 6,000-panel community solar project with carve-outs for local nonprofit organizations and another for income-qualified customers. Making community solar available to customers who need the most help with utility bills was another topic that received a lot of attention. Utilities are experimenting with different business models for low-income projects, but most agree on the potential benefits: freeing up more money for other needs, bringing more certainty to monthly bills and raising energy awareness in a hard-to-reach group.
Ask for more WAPA thanks the Community Solar Value Project for partnering with us to put on Community Solar Procurements, Programs and Pricing. Utilities are still learning about this form of distributed energy and how to gain the most benefits from it for their customers and their own operations. To learn more, check out the workshop presentations, along with past CSVP webinars. Also, let us know if there are other types of workshops you would like to see WAPA present, or partners or subject matter experts we could collaborate with.
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 (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.
Training online STEP is presenting Solar Updates in the 2017 National Electrical Code, 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 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.
Carports add value to parking spaces by providing shade and shelter, and they are usually located in areas with wide-open solar exposure and easy grid access. This could make the structures an excellent design option for community solar gardens that also promote grid-managed electric vehicle charging.
Learn more about all the benefits, as well as the pricing challenges, associated with solar carports and shade structures by joining the CSVP August webinar. Presentations will feature two leading solar carport providers and cover highlights from CSVP’s solar carport market update.
Making Solar Carports Happen is part of a free webinar series that launched June 30 with Can Regulation Make Community Solar Better? Past webinar presentations are available in the CSVP library, along with presentations from other events related to community solar. Upcoming webinars include:
September 29 – Community Solar Plus Storage Solutions
October 27 – Smarter Procurement for Community Solar Programs
Watch Energy Services Bulletin for more information about registration.
The Community Solar Value Project represents leading energy thinkers and do-ers, ready to “make community solar better,” from both the sponsoring-utility and customer perspective. Focusing on strategic solar technologies, siting and design, and on integrating companion measures, such as demand-response and storage, into program designs, CSVP aims to address solar variability and minimize costs for service and distribution. Developing the market for the community solar model is also a goal of the project.
Extensible Energy, LLC, a San Francisco-area energy consulting and analytics firm, leads the project, with support from Cliburn and Associates, LLC, Olivine, Inc., and Navigant Consulting. WAPA customer Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Public Service of New Mexico are among the utilities participating nationwide. The project is powered by the Department of Energy SunShot Initiative under its Solar Market Pathways program. Sunshot is also a sponsor of the webinar series.
The amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased 23-fold in the last seven years, from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 gigawatts in 2015, with one million systems now in operation. A key challenge to furthering solar deployment is the ability to integrate distributed generation sources like rooftop solar panels into the grid while balancing that generation with traditional utility generation. This FOA aims to support companies working to meet that challenge while keeping reliable and cost-effective power flowing.
ENERGISE specifically seeks to develop software and hardware platforms for utility distribution system planning and operations that integrate sensing, communication and data analytics. These hardware and software solutions will help utilities manage solar and other distributed energy resources on the grid and will be data-driven, easily scaled-up from prototypes and capable of real-time monitoring and control.
Funds are being offered for projects addressing two topic areas:
Topic Area 1 covers near-term projects to develop commercially ready, scalable distribution system planning and real-time grid operation solutions compatible with existing grid infrastructure to enable the addition of solar at 50 percent of the peak distribution load by 2020. A one-year field demonstration with utility partners is required.
Topic Area 2 covers projects that tackle the long-term challenge of developing transformative and highly scalable technologies compatible with advanced grid infrastructure to enable solar at 100 percent of the peak distribution load by 2030. DOE will require a large-scale simulation to demonstrate performance and scalability.
DOE’s SunShot Initiative will oversee the projects funded by this opportunity. The program expects to make 10 to 15 awards altogether. Awards for Topic Area 1 will likely range between $500,000 and $4,000,000 each. For Topic Area 2, DOE anticipates making awards of between $500,000 and $2,000,000 each.
Western customers Fort Carson in Colorado and Hill Air Force Base in Utah are participating in a Department of Energy (DOE) program to prepare military veterans for careers in the solar power industry.
Solar Ready Vets, part of DOE’s SunShot Initiative, is an intensive six-week training course to teach transitioning service members and vets about photovoltaics (PV). DOE launched the pilot program in 2014 because translating military experience into civilian jobs is one of the toughest challenges veterans face. The solar industry is adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy, and many veterans already have a strong background in basic technical skills that will help them succeed in the field.
Working with leaders Ft. Carson, Camp Pendleton in California and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia were the first facilities to offer the course. In April, President Obama visited Hill Air Force Base, the fourth training site to announce that DOE is expanding Solar Ready Vets to a total of ten military bases. DOE will work with the Department of Defense to choose the remaining six facilities. Strength of the local solar market and the training capacity of nearby Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) partners will factor into the decision.
Located in a state with a thriving solar industry, Ft. Carson Army Garrison near Colorado Springs was a natural choice to host Solar Ready Vets. Western worked with Ft. Carson and eight other federal agencies in 2007 to finance and install a 2-megawatt (MW) PV system on the base, the largest array on an Army facility at the time. The array is part of the base’s sustainability program that addresses energy and water use, transportation, waste and local habitat.
Renewable energy is also part of the power supply at Hill Air Force Base. The Air Force built its first landfill gas facility at Hill in 2006, and has since expanded it to three generators producing 2.3 MW annually. A large solar array, commissioned in 2009, contributes another 220 kilowatts of clean power to base operations.
Theory backs up practice
The Ft. Carson pilot class of 23 trainees studied PV systems from the basics of electricity to design to installation. The course also covered battery backup and storage, permitting and basic troubleshooting, and included the “why” behind the practical steps. At the end of the course, they earned their OSHA 10-hour construction card and took the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners Entry Level Exam. All 23 successfully passed the NABCEP certification.
More than half the training involved hands-on learning, using a field lab created by lead instructor Solar Energy International(SEI). One of the founding members of the SITN, the Paonia, Colorado-based, solar education organization conducted the trainings at Ft. Carson and Camp Pendleton. “We are very excited to be involved in this program,” said Chris Turek, SEI director of Marketing and Alumni Outreach. “Job training is an important part of military service, and the skills that Solar Ready Vets teaches can be valuable for active as well as transitioning service members.”
As a post-911 veteran himself, Turek has a strong personal connection to the program. After completing his degree and working in other related industries for a few years, he joined SEI. “Vets are used to working as part of a team that places high priority on safety and results, which makes the solar industry a great fit for them,” he said.
Out of service, into jobs The solar industry clearly agrees, with SolarCity, Vivint Solar, SunRun, SunPower and SunEdison lining up to interview participants following their graduation. “Several graduates have received job offers already,” said Ft. Carson Career Skills Program Manager Sherry Jenkins. “Some are waiting until they get closer to their separation dates to interview but they excited about opportunities that await them.”
DOE lined up the solar companies to interview graduates, but Jenkins said local businesses could also contact the base if they are interested in conducting interviews with the graduates. Turek pointed out that the training is applicable for all types of solar-related businesses. “The skills we teach prepare graduates for positions in management, PV installation and sales, as well as technical positions,” he said. “Utilities that are looking to scale up their solar programs could definitely find qualified candidates here.”
Interest, opportunities growing Ft. Carson kicked off a second training May 12 with 24 students, and another one is being planned for August. Class size is limited to 25 participants, and the first one was a bit of a tough sell, Jenkins acknowledged. “Now word is getting out and the classes are filling rapidly,” she said, adding, “We have our first women members in the current class, and they tell me that they love it.”
Hill AFB plans to offer training this fall. The free program is open to active military personnel who are within a few months of moving to veteran status. DOE further screens for applicants with good math skills and some electricity or construction experience. In this initial phase, participants are selected only from the bases where the training is held. However, current veterans may participate now in solar skills training through their regional SITN educational partners. The network consists of more than 400 community colleges across the country.
Utilities with job openings for Solar Ready Vets may contact the base education or transition office near them:
Ft. Carson (Army) Sherry Jenkins
Career Skills Program Coordinator
Directorate of Human Resources
1675 Long Street, Bldg. 1117, Room 124
Ft. Carson, CO 80913
Office: 719-526-8075 DSN: 691-8075
Camp Pendleton (Marines) Scott Pile Director, Personal and Professional Development
US Marine Corps-Camp Pendleton
Mr. Derrick Christovale; 951-725-6652
Ms. Pat Jeffress; 951-725-6414
Career and Personal Readiness:
Ms. Veronica Largent; 951-725-6320
Jobs can also be posted through on-base hiring fairs and military employment channels.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has unveiled an interactive website tracking solar development by electric cooperatives. Offering maps, data, photos and video, the website provides an overview and new details about the recent dramatic increase in cooperative-owned and purchased solar capacity.
Member-owned, not for profit co-ops either have online or are planning to develop 240 megawatts of owned and purchased solar capacity in 34 states. According to NRECA, this development is distinguished by its large footprint, rapid growth and potential for expansion.
“Co-op solar is consumer-owned solar,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson. “The solar website shows how the consumer-owned utility business model can spur innovation and expand solar capacity in regions where this resource had previously been written off as too expensive or not viable.”
Highlights of the new website include maps showing the co-op solar footprint, solar projects developed abroad by NRECA International and median income levels and co-op solar development. Visitors will also find a chart showing the cumulative growth of co-op solar capacity, and videos, pictures and stories of significant co-op solar projects throughout the nation.
The website complements NRECA research, funded by the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, to develop tools and business strategies to accelerate the deployment of utility-scale solar.
Co-ops are making significant investments in renewable resource generation, using loans from the Rural Utilities Service and other sources. With solar becoming more cost-competitive, electric co-ops are poised to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new projects. In addition, co-ops purchase renewable energy from large projects such as the 31 MW Cimarron Solar Facility in New Mexico and the 7.7 MW Azalea Solar Power Facility in Georgia.
Source: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association via Renewables Biz, 11/8/14
As part of its “SunShot Initiative,” the Energy Department (DOE) is offering $15 million to help communities develop multi-year solar plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses.
The Solar Market Pathways funding opportunity is intended to support regional, state, tribal and locally-driven efforts to develop multi-year solar deployment plans that will help provide business certainty and establish a clear path for the next five to ten years of solar deployment. A DOE webinar on April 22 will cover types of projects under consideration and what to expect from the concept paper and application process.
DOE expects awardees to convene stakeholder processes to develop their plan, and form subgroups, if necessary, to address specific topics such as the net benefits and costs of solar electricity (to and from the grid). Subgroups might also develop solar deployment programs including commercial property assessed clean energy financing, shared solar or incorporating solar within local emergency response plans.
Concept papers are due May 28 and full applications are due July 3. Read the press release for more information, including registration for the April 22 webinar, or see the funding opportunity announcement (Reference # DE-FOA-0001071).
Working with the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and other organizations, the Energy Department (DOE) this week released two Funding of Opportunity Announcements (FOA) related to utilities.
Solar Utility Networks: Replicable Innovations in Solar Energy (SUNRISE) is being issued by DOE to solicit applications for two topic areas. Topic A focuses on enabling utilities to develop long-term strategic plans for integrating high levels of renewable energy generation and ensuring that power systems operate reliably in real time under high renewable penetration. Topic B aims to provide technical assistance for building capacity through utility-scale photovoltaic planning and installation.
DOE’s express purpose in issuing this FOA is to demonstrate cost-effective and reliable solar integration in real time, at utility-scale, in successful utility business models. DOE anticipates providing up to $12 Million through this FOA, for projects two to four years long, depending on the topic area. Awardees must share project costs. This FOA is part of the DOE SunShot Initiative.
Concept papers due: March 8, 2013
Expected date for response to concept papers: March 20, 2013
Deadline for questions: April 21, 2013
Full applications due: April 24, 2013
The second FOA, Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) seeks applications to increase power system research, development and analytical capacity. Projects should also be designed to prepare electric utility professionals to manage high penetrations of solar and other distributed energy technologies. To achieve these dual goals, GEARED will support two activities:
Training consortia focused on quickly bringing their findings into training and educational initiatives
A national coordination network that will link these consortia to one another and other relevant power system research and development and training activities
Increasing the power systems capabilities and talent pool promotes electric grid security, as well as environmental and economic benefits for all consumers. The GEARED FOA provides funding to support creating three to five regional consortia that work with universities and utilities to incorporate power systems analysis, research and development into curricula and short courses, cooperative internships and continuing education. GEARED will also support the creation of a national training network for distributed power system professionals. The FOA does not apply to undergraduate or graduate fellowships.
Concept papers due: April 12, 2013; 5 p.m. EST
Deadline for questions: April 16, 2013; 5 p.m. EST
Full applications due: April 19, 2013; 5 p.m. EST
Some of the topic areas are seeking utility applicants, while others are seeking utility groups or other types of entities. SEPA member utilities that wish to apply directly or would like to apply in partnership with SEPA should contact SEPA President Julia Hamm at 202-559-2025 as soon as possible.