Solar safety is extremely important. Safety measures included in the 2014 electrical code for PV systems are all technology based – adding layers of electronic protection and control. The issues with technology-based safety are excessive cost and decreasing system reliability. We’re very pleased that both Oregon and Washington have chosen to delay implementation of these technology related safety systems until the industry has time to perfect them. Here’s the notice that came in from Washington’s Dept. of Labor and Industries:
During the past few weeks, several Washington State manufacturers involved in the photovoltaic (PV) industry have contacted the electrical program. All expressed concerns that the industry is not ready for new PV requirements in the 2014 National Electrical Code (NEC) specifically, sections 690.11, Arc-Fault Circuit Protection (Direct Current), 690.12 Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings and NEC 705.12(6), Wire Harness and Exposed Cable Arc-Fault Protection. Each manufacturer has technical obstacles in complying with the new NEC requirements by the July 1, 2014 effective date.
The electrical program conducted independent research and came to similar conclusions. We discussed the issues with all four in-state PV manufacturers, other PV industry experts, and the State of Oregon, which has already delayed implementation of NEC 690.11 until April 1, 2016 and NEC 690.12 until October 1, 2017. We conducted extensive online research and reviewed the Reports on Comments and Reports on Proposals for the 2011 and 2014 NEC revision cycles. All three requirements are meant to increase electrical safety for PV systems and in the future, no doubt will. However, by policy, I am granting a one-year delay, until July 1, 2015, in implementation of all three requirements, allowing the Washington State PV manufacturers time to address each of these issues.
Enforcement will begin July 1, 2015. This reasonable approach will ensure an acceptable level of safety while not hampering Washington State’s PV industry.
Rod Mutch, Chief Electrical Inspector