October 7, 2008
REQUIREMENTS FOR SOLAR INSTALLERS
By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst
You asked whether a homeowner participating in the Clean Energy Fund's photovoltaic (PV) rebate program can do work on the system himself as a way to reduce the system's cost.
To participate in Connecticut's rebate program, the PV system must be installed by a firm approved by Connecticut Innovations, Inc. (CII), which administers the program. To be approved, the firm must submit a detailed application and meet various requirements, including providing proof of financial capacity and insurance coverage. By law, contractors who install PV systems must have the appropriate licenses from the Department of Consumer Protection, whether or not the homeowner purchasing the system is participating in the rebate program (this requirement also applies to contractors installing solar heating systems).
CII does not permit homeowners who participate in the rebate program to install the equipment themselves, primarily for safety reasons. It requires that the installer employ licensed electricians to avoid the risk of fire to the home and damage to the electric distribution system. CII staff note that installers need to be well qualified because PV systems can damage a roof if installed improperly. CII also requires that the installers be approved in order to maintain the reputation of PV systems; during the 1970s, many solar energy systems were poorly installed, which reduced the public's willingness to accept these systems.
CII staff are reviewing their policies regarding who can install PV systems, and are considering allowing homeowners who hold the relevant trade licenses to perform work under the program at their own homes within the scope of their license. The staff does not anticipate that the program will allow unlicensed individuals to work on systems.
Further information about the rebate program, including a list of approved installers and the application form to become an approved installer, is available at www.ctcleanenergy.com.