IREC releases training courses for residential solar plan review and permitting


The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and a team of partners announced the launch of a free series of self-paced, interactive, online professional development courses on the plan review and permitting process for residential rooftop solar installations. The series covers the primary tasks to confirm the electrical, structural, and fire code compliance of PV systems prior to issuing a permit.

IREC developed the course series in partnership with clean energy codes and building safety experts at the International Code Council (ICC), International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Slipstream, and University of Central Florida – FSEC Energy Research Center.

“Building safety professionals need concise, easy to use, and accurate information that fits in their busy schedules,” said Larry Sherwood, President and CEO at IREC. “IREC-developed courses can be taken on a lunch hour and then used in the field that afternoon. This will help local officials safely and efficiently approve clean solar energy installations that benefit the entire community.”

Beyond the traditional “click and review” approach to online learning, IREC’s industry-vetted training is based on a series of widely accessed classroom-based courses and provides real-world practice. Learners evaluate actual residential solar PV system plans as they complete interactive activities. They can choose to complete courses on topics specific to their job function, or they can complete the entire series and review a full permit application.

“Code officials play a critical role in ensuring that the latest energy-based technologies are deployed safely,” said Ryan M. Colker, ICC’s Vice President, Innovation. “The International Code Council is pleased to continue our collaboration with IREC to deliver the training and professional development resources that our members need to remain current in these areas.”

The website provides professionals interested in emerging clean energy technology with clean energy educational resources and training courses with the opportunity for free CEUs. A Certificate of Completion must be submitted to IAEI and ICC for CEU credits for the code official training courses.

The new courses build on IREC’s extensive work assisting local government officials with timely and efficient permit approvals for solar PV projects. For example, the IREC-led SolSmart program developed simplified permitting guidelines for local officials, and IREC offers online training on the new SolarAPP+ automated permitting platform.

Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+), a free software tool aimed at automating residential solar permitting, was launched in July of 2021 and adopted by several pilot cities. In recent study it was found that SolarAPP+ reduces project times an average of 12 days.  SolarAPP+ is now being piloted in several cities for permitting energy storage projects. Installers can learn more about its use in the online IREC training courses.

IREC has developed these courses under the EMPOWERED funding program, a collaborative effort across DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Solar Energy Technologies Office, Building Technologies Office, and the Vehicle Technologies Office to develop training programs and resources for professionals interacting with new energy technologies, such as solar PV, energy storage, electric vehicle infrastructure, and grid-enabled and advanced building systems.

The courses are available on IREC’s online learning management system. Click here to register.

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