General Law Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5225

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING SOLAR WORK.

Vote Date:

3/11/2010

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/25/2010

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

General Law Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To ensure solar electricity work is performed safely, to authorize E-1 and E-2 license holders to perform solar voltaic work, subject to certain conditions, and to eliminate a licensing exemption relating to the hoisting, placement and anchoring of solar collectors, photovoltaic panels, towers and turbines.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

Substitute language deleted section 1 concerning amendment of solar electricity work definition. It also deleted section 3 regarding exemptions and retained section 2 as the only section in the bill.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None stated.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Lisa Hutner, Independent Electrical Contractors of New England, Inc. testified in support of the bill. She stated today's solar energy panel are high voltage and should only be installed by qualified licensed professionals. Recognizing the inherent danger in working with voltage technologies, the vast majority of states require solar PV systems to be installed by a licensed electrician.

Sean Daly, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers testified in support of the bill. He believes it will help to diminish some barriers experienced in their efforts to contribute to the growth of the solar industry. The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF) awards rebates for the installation of solar panels; however, requirements the CCEF has set forth hinder the ability for electricians to take advantage of the program. The E-1 and E-2 licenses provide a more comprehensive background for those who perform the installations. He is also concerned about an increased unemployment rate in the industry with more electricians who are qualified to do the work.

Jack Traver Jr., Traver IDC testified in support of the bill. He is concerned with the concept of limited licenses of PV installers. This new license would devalue the E-1 and E-2 licenses by allowing people with inadequate training to perform the work that should be reserved for the more experienced.

Jenn Jennings, Connecticut Heating and Cooling Contractors of Connecticut testified in support of the bill. State law established a licensing system for several trades; each trade has different expertise levels of which workers must meet education, training, and experience requirements to qualify for each level. This bill addresses the safety concerns for workers, protects consumers, and promotes green jobs.

Paul Costello, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers testified in support of the bill. They stated that the work needs to be completed by licensed electricians and the exemption to the licensing requirement should be deleted. In order to maintain a safe installation and to protect the persons, property, and all equipment, a properly trained worker should be used. There is no reason to create a new separate workforce there this is already one available.

Michael Moconyi, Connecticut Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association testified in support of the bill. The State of Connecticut has issued E-1 and E-2 licenses that regulate the installation of the electrically generated power systems. E-1 and E-2 license holders provide the infrastructure to perform solar installation work. And allowing exemptions raises the possibility of faulty installation by untrained individuals.

Joseph Bonner, Bonner Electric testified in support of the bill. He stated for the sake of consumer safety, it's critical that circuits be installed by a licensed and experienced electrician. By supporting the bill, it will strengthen the training and experience requirements for installers of solar PV systems.

Bruce Angeloszek testified in support of the bill. He stated E-1 license holders in Connecticut work hard to earn them and by introducing a limited PV license; an E-1 unlimited license would lose value. He also stated that the National Electrical Code (NEC) was not written to serve as an instructive or teaching manual for untrained individuals.

Bill Mackey, Woods Electric testified in support of the bill. He stated the regulations for applying for and receiving funds from the Clean Energy Fund is cumbersome and confusing. The issue of not being allowed to apply for funds until one becomes PV certified can prevent a company from receiving a timely reimbursement. There are many E-1 and E-2 licensed professionals available for work in this industry that have already been trained.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Connecticut Construction Industries Associations, Inc testified in opposition of the bill. They stated that this bill would eliminate a licensing exemption for employees of any contractor employed by and under the direction of a properly licensed solar contractor. Employees under the direction of a properly licensed solar contractor should be able to hoist, place and anchor collectors. The work is not particularly specialized such that it should require a licensed electrician to perform it.

Glenn Marshal, Connecticut Carpenters Union Local 210 testified in opposition of the bill. This proposal requires licensed electricians to handle or install windows, roofing, and siding where PV membranes are used. They are opposed because this bill interrupts the current carpentry industry.

Paul Bartoo, PV Squared testified in opposition to the bill. He stated that this bill is a green job killer that would negatively impact Connecticut residents who seek to install affordable, reliable solar energy systems on their homes, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. Connecticut has licensures and work practices currently in place for the PV industry. Additional regulation would be burdensome and increase cost of solar projects.

Richard Dziadul, PV Squared testified in opposition of the bill. He stated that under state regulations, E-1 electrical contractors can install PV systems. A large portion of the bill is seeking to address a problem where none exists and this bill would force PV installers to lay off workers. Also, it would force the PV industry to hire more expensive licensed individuals for the same purpose.

Mark Waldo, Waldo Renewable testified in opposition of the bill. The solar installation itself requires unique knowledge that is more specific than the standard residential and commercial wiring. Not every aspect of the installation requires the knowledge that licensed E-1 electricians possess.

Micheal Trahan, Solar Connecticut testified in opposition of the bill. He feels this bill is an anti-green job bill because it will put solar installers out of work upon passage.

Harsh Luthra, Befree Green Energy testified in opposition of the bill. Solar PV and thermal work was designed to be easily installed. Many other states allow homeowners to perform this work; without any such requirements, a further increase in cost will occur to Connecticut residents who are already paying high cost due to paperwork and utility requirements.

Frank Sacramone Jr., Pat Munger Construction testified in opposition of the bill. Munger Construction has the ability to utilize its own highly-skilled workforce to perform non-electrical portions of the installation such as roof modifications; rack mounting, hoisting and mounting the solar panels while at the same time engage its networks of electricians to address the electrical portions of the installation. Munger Construction is hopeful that solar work will continue to provide this critical diversification opportunity and an opportunity for the company to expand its workforce in the future.

Ronnie Lizana testified in opposition of the bill. Solar electrical work is a very specialized type of work that should not be performed by an electrician. Asking an E-1 to take on PV responsibilities would require them to obtain a new set of tools, skills, and knowledge that are not part of the standard E-1 repertoire. PV installers understand scaffolding, roof structures, racking systems, and mounting. E-1's should be excluded from performing solar work.

Darek Shapiro testified in opposition of the bill. He believes this bill will halt almost all work in growing a clean energy economy.

Renee and Robert Slonaker testified in opposition of the bill. They believe this bill will prevent currently working solar installers who don't hold an E-1 or E-2 license from employment.

Philip Dooley testified in opposition of the bill. He stated that the licensed PV installer already knows much more about the portions of the code and the practical wiring problems applying to PV systems than most electricians.

Carol Savery-Frederick testified in opposition of the bill. She stated that it will prevent currently working solar installers who do not hold an E1 or E2 license and will also put critical green jobs in jeopardy. She said that while the Clean Energy Fund and the Efficiency Fund allow citizens to embrace the solar option, without continued support for clean energy it becomes difficult to find companies to install and maintain their systems.

Reported by: Brandon McCall

Date: March 18, 2010