On August 6, the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) will hold a vote which could have serious consequences for the largest residential energy storage market in the nation. In specific, CSLB is considering restricting the ability of solar installers who hold a C-46 solar installation license, but not a C-10 electrical license, to install batteries.
California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) issued an action alert yesterday afternoon, calling on its members to come to Sacramento and fight the proposal to restrict battery installations. “We need you and your colleagues to attend this hearing to voice opposition to this decision and to protect the solar and storage market going forward,” reads the alert.
In an interview with pv magazine, CALSSA Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro was explicit about the danger that this represents:
If there is a restriction of trade here in California eliminating the most prolific of the contractors – the solar contractor – at installing what they’ve been installing for 40 years, that’s going to have really catastrophic impacts on on the market.
As everyone who reads the news or has boarded a flight knows, lithium-ion batteries can enter a dangerous state where the heat buildup gets out of control. And while improper installation can cause problems, research by pv magazine suggests that most instances of thermal runaway are the result of poorly designed software with inadequate safety controls.
CALSSA argues that two and a half years of public hearings and reports have not turned up evidence of a safety risk to justify the proposed changes. Instead, it alleges that CSLB is considering this change due to pressure from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), with support from the state’s investor-owned utilities.
Whether or not these specific accusations are accurate, utilities across the nation have consistently worked to kill rooftop solar markets. In California, the shift to mandatory time-of-use rates under Net Metering 2.0 created an incentive to pair solar with storage. And if utilities can restrict how many workers can install these systems, this will inevitably have effects not only on the behind-the-meter battery storage market, but also the rooftop solar market in the state.
pv magazine will provide additional coverage of this vote next Tuesday.
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This just makes me want to go off the grid even more.
Keep squeezing that sand and you’ll have none left.
California’s solar industry is a subsidy fueled worker immiseration machine. Even as its workforce doubled in large measure to public support the wages of its workforce declined. Years after being called out for lack of training and real career opportunities the industry continues its low-road labor practices. Now they’re crying because their 1200 or so solar-licensees are either too lazy to become full fledged electrical contractors or too cheap to hire real electricians to do this work.
I have had two systems installed and for both insisted the local utility come and disconnect their lines and meters. In both cases they balked, that is, until I said fine I’ll just disconnect the line from the box. For both systems, I installed the panels myself after getting quotes that were more than double the cost of the panels. I hired a retired electrician to make the proper connections. As for battery backup instead of the pricy ION batteries, I went with deep discharge marine batteries I purchased at Costco for under $78 per. Again I had asked the electrician to do the necessary wiring. One installation was on a 4/12 roof and therefore easy for me in my 60s to do, the other was on the ground. In both cases, I fell if you ever played with an erector set you already know 85% of what it takes to install solar. Lastly, I had the city do all the inspections needed and made sure they stamped the proper places, no one was going to accuse me that the job was not properly done. Solar is not all that hard, I found the hardest part was sizing the system properly and found the local county extension bureau was more than happy to help.
Sorry to tell you but you wasted your money on those $78 Costco flooded acid batteries. They’ll be at 80% capacity after 400 cycles, compared to 2000 cycles to 80% with Lithium. Lithium Ion batteries are cheaper than flooded acid over 5 years and much cheaper over 10 years when you price cost on each cycle. LiFePo batteries will still have 80% after 2000 cycles at an 80% Depth of discharge. Flooded acid you can only discharge 50% per cycle and 400 cycles until you down to 80% capacity. Discharge your lead acid below 50% and you’ll have even less cycles, meaning buying more batteries more often.
For example lets say you want a 10kwh battery. You could buy 10kwh of Li-ion but to get the same capacity, you’ll need to buy 20kwh of Lead acid. You’ll have to replace them 4 times before your Li-Ions are at 80% capacity. Flooded acid also have horrible Coulombic efficiency vs Li-Ion 80% Flooded vs 99% for Lithium due to the much lower internal resistance. So you have to add another 20% of flooded acid capacity compared to Lithium due to the inefficiencies. Do yourself a favor and buy Lithium batteries when your first set of flooded are shot. Plus you have to vent the space for hydrogen out-gassing lowering the temperature in the winter of your battery room, further diminishing capacity in the winter. Now you get to do maintenance and keep the batteries topped off with distilled water. Lithium is no maintenance. No thanks.
spelling, spelling… sorry folks
Bring c46 cslb licensing / testing content up to speed with current industry needs, when I took the c46 test it had very little to do with electrical proficiency.
Right here is your players: “CALSSA argues that two and a half years of public hearings and reports have not turned up evidence of a safety risk to justify the proposed changes. Instead, it alleges that CSLB is considering this change due to pressure from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), with support from the state’s investor-owned utilities.”
To me this just means, solar PV with smart energy storage is enough of a threat to the utility industry as well as the “rank and file” electrical workers speaks volumes as to how disruptive the technology is. How many times has an international union and the utility the unionized workforce supports, (work together) in an attempt to influence the installation of residential energy storage?
One can go from mild to wild. The Schneider conext product line can be had “prewired” and mounted on its own circuit breaker, raceway and component mount as one unit. YOU could mount the thing on a wall in your garage. After that there is a connection from the inverter output to the home’s circuit breaker panel and an input from the roof solar PV system into the D.C. connect portion of the prewired box. An auxiliary wiring loop from the inverter/charger to the stand alone battery storage would complete the system. So, needed, correct wiring sizing from power unit, to home C.B. panel, correct wiring sizing from the D.C. solar PV buss, C.B., fuse or both isolation to the power unit. Sounds like only one electrician is needed for this job. Several years back, the local electrical union tried this in Massachusetts. The State commerce commission or some other such body, told the union to pound sand. From the scope of the work needed to install solar PV, the conduiting, wiring, isolation and final connections can be done by ONE licensed journeyman electrician.
Or a journeyman licensed C46 solar contractor qualifier and keep the work in the same contract as we do today for years at the point of interconnection. For example, C20’s are similar? The size and installation of the OCPD and the ampacity is sized based for the inverter output circuit is also completed by the licensed solar contractor who follows the Code (eg. CEC/NEC 705.12, …).
In other words, licensed solar contractors have the knowledge and skills of solar and energy storage systems because it’s our specialty both large and small. 🙂
I would strongly suggest no changes with the success of solar and energy storage systems in California of approximately 1 million solar installations.
1. I’ve looked at the electricians training program and it does not specialize in solar and energy storage systems as a C46 specialty classification. All contractors should follow the OSHA general duty clause, a contractor shall furnish a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards.
2. As a result, all persons should be quaified in accordance with CEC/NEC Article 100 and have the skills and knowledge. C20’s, for example, interconnect with electrical systems as do other classifications. C-7s for instrumentation, for monitoring systems, D31s for pole installation and maintenance, D56s for trenching. I’m not going to be wiring a kitchen or in a bathroom in a “structure” – CEC/NEC Article 100, so I do not need that. 🙁
3. In other words, solar contractors install solar and energy storage systems and that’s their specialty. BTW, as energy storage systems develop, the intervening Code cycle has placed restrictions on size and potential location for practical safegaurding and safety. All contractors should comply with the Code.
How recently did you install your lead acid batteries?
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