A national program to certify solar PV installers is ready to be launched in the United States.SACRAMENTO, California, US, 2001-10-08 [SolarAccess.com] “We’re at the point where it is critical to have certification” for PV professionals, says Jane Weissman of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, one of three groups that have developed the initiative under the auspices of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. “We have to do it right because we’re on a fast track basis to keep up with demand.” The program will certify individuals who are qualified to install grid-tied PV systems. Other phases under development include stand-alone PV, solar thermal, small wind and other distributed renewable energy technologies. The voluntary program will not replace licensing regulations that are imposed by individual states, and the goal is to offer a program that provides evidence that the certification is rigorous and credible. Another component of the program is to provide formal accreditation for facilities that want to certify the practitioners. The Florida Solar Energy Center has developed the requirements and task analysis, and Barbara Martin explained to a workshop in California that 300 skills would be tested before certification were granted. The core tasks range from working safely with PV systems and conducting a site assessment, to performing a system checkout and troubleshooting an installation. Three separate certifications would be offered to installers, designers and code officials. Costs have not been finalized, but documents suggest an application fee of US$100 that would be valid for a three-year period. The program has been under development for six years, says Mark Fitzgerald of the Institute for Sustainable Power. A management firm to administer the testing program will be selected early next year, with a formal launch after that. The California workshop addressed the balance between the need to provide certification that assures the public and regulatory officials that grid-connected PV systems can be installed safely and reliably, and the possible creation of a market barrier. The U.S. Department of Energy has funded most of the work to date, but there is increasing support from the industry and many states have implemented system benefit charges that may be tapped to provide a sustainable sources of revenue.