Rhode Island has a new job certification for a “renewable energy professional,” intended as a step toward making the state more attractive to businesses in the energy sector.
“This clarifies and defines who can do what on solar-electrical or solar-thermal job sites,” said Chris Kearns, R.I. Office of Energy Resources’ chief of program development, of legislation recently approved by lawmakers. “There have been disputes when it comes to installation.”
The new regulations were developed through collaboration among the Rhode Island Builders Association, the New England Clean Energy Council, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 99, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training and the Office of Energy Resources, said Kearns.
“This legislation removes barriers for renewable energy companies that want to set up shop in Rhode Island,” said Kearns. “Under the previous regulations, if you didn’t have a licensed master electrician on your staff or board, you weren’t supposed to advertise that you could do renewable energy work.”
The new legislation, which Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee signed into law, allows a person or company with a renewable energy professional certification to advertise its services, as well as to do some of the work related to installation of solar-electric or solar-thermal systems. Those related services include distributing modules to the installation site, taking photovoltaic panels to mounting racks and installing ground and rooftop support brackets.
“We supported this because, obviously, we want to see more jobs in renewable energy – that’s the driving force of this legislation,” said Joe Walsh, membership development coordinator for IBEW Local 99. “It’s not about union or nonunion. Jobs are good for everybody.”
Elements of the new law were carefully considered because of public-safety implications, said Walsh.
“Originally, these installations were all electrical work. Then there was consideration by DLT as to how much of the work is electrical and how much is labor,” he said.