Government of California intend to manage who can install energy storage

The recent vote within the Contractor State Licence Board has sparked a new process to control the type of energy storage systems that solar installers without a certified electrician license can put online. 

The Legislative Committee of Contractor State License Board (CSLB) in California agreed on starting the process to limit the installation of energy storage systems, including facilities that support rooftop solar, to licensed electricians. Technically speaking, this vote means individuals with a C-10 electrical license, not solar installers equipped with a C-46 license. While the vote doesn’t extend to a complete ban, the new terms would enable solar installers with C-46 licenses to install energy storage under certain conditions including:

  • Limited to a solar system of up to 10kW on single family dwellings or a duplex containing a battery system that cannot exceed 5kW backup or 20kWh energy.
  • The battery system must be installed at the same time as the solar system
  • No upgrade or modification can be made to the existing electrical system

The regional solar and storage association for California (CALSSA) has pointed to utility companies the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) as causes for these changes, claiming they have continuously pushed for a complete ban on installations by C-46 license holders.

It was a blatant, outright abuse of power threatening to lead to arbitrary and capricious restrictions on thousands of workers and their contractor employers with absolutely no empirical data in support: simply because the utilities and the IBEW say so.  

CALSSA and Vote Solar recently testified against the proposal stating that any safety concerns are simply false, highlighting the perfect record of solar installers in California, of which, most have C-46 licences.

CALSSA and Vote Solar testified against the proposal during last night’s five-hour meeting, and CALSSA mobilized its members to testify as well. The organization says that concerns over safety are a “sham” and cites what it describes as the “impeccable” record of California’s solar installers, most of whom hold C-46 licenses.

“Watching the investor owned utilities and their henchmen bend a state agency to their will in broad daylight, attacking us in yet another forum at the expense of harming real businesses not to mention the state’s clean energy goals, was disturbing,” stated CALSSA.

Sierra Club showed its support of the IBEW-backed proposal to limit the installation of energy storage to C-10 holders. In a statement to PV magazine, Sierra Club explained that it wanted to continue enabling only C-10 licensed holders to install energy storage and change the system that enables non-electricians to install batteries.

We must have qualified people install and maintain battery storage systems in the safest and most effective manner whether they are stand alone or are paired with solar. For us, that means all battery storage systems – from residential to utility scale – should be installed only by licensed C-10 contractors with state certified electricians.

CALSSA  believe there is much more to be discussed with a follow up meeting with the IBEW and utilities companies due at the end of September. CALSSA believes it will take several months for CSLB to deliver the details of the restriction, stating that it could take years before any significant changes hit the market.