New Solar Rules Delayed Until 2016

Washington State is delaying the adoption of three stringent 2014 National Electrical Code® (NEC®) requirements for new Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems until July 1, 2016. The three requirements are 690.11 Arc-Fault Circuit Protection (Direct Current), 690.12 Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings, and 705.12(D)(6) Wire Harness and Exposed Cable Arc-Fault Protection. A similar delay in implementation of these rules will occur in Oregon.

L&I Chief Electrical Inspector writes, “This approach will ensure that the products currently under development to meet these requirements will be certified by an accredited product testing laboratory as meeting appropriate electrical product safety standards.”

For the Washington solar industry, this delay is cause for a huge sigh of relief. The current lack of integrated products available to meet these requirements meant that most systems installed now would need to be retrofitted later; this would have increased the cost of installations for the first time in years. Artisan is scheduling solar installations well into August. The delay means we will not be required to charge new customers an unnecessary additional fee.

Currently, any system with microinverters or DC optimizers already meets Rapid Shutdown requirements. Arc-Fault protection has been the bane of the solar industry since its requirement because Arc-Fault-equipped inverters are oversensitive to anomalies in grid input. “False alarms” are common, and often require a manual override, leading to loss in solar production and frustrated customers. We’re hoping that the bugs in Arc-Fault Circuit Protection will be worked out by the time these requirements are adopted.

In the meantime, this delay is another very good reason to get a system installed in the next 12 months, before these rules are enforced and raise costs.

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