Important Step Taken to Certify Renewable Energy Industry

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners is looking for an organization to manage a certification program for renewable energy practitioners, beginning with certification for photovoltaic installers and designers.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colorado, US, 2001-09-18 [] NABCEP is developing a certification program that has the support and involvement of the photovoltaic industry, solar organizations, national laboratories and electrical trades. A Request for Qualifications has been issued for a management company to administer the certification programs, and it is anticipated that certification will begin next year. The certification program for PV systems will be followed by certification programs for other renewable energy technologies, including solar thermal and wind power. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council organized a meeting in Washington last April, during the major solar energy conference in the U.S. capital. More than 65 representatives participated, from state energy offices and state renewable energy centers, state solar energy industries association chapters, the U.S. government and its national laboratories, non-profit groups, the National Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee, IBEW, and utility and consulting companies. The meeting was held in coordination with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. The meeting was designed to discuss certification of solar practitioners, and participants strongly agreed that national competency guidelines for solar practitioners are needed. Most states that participated said they were likely to adopt national guidelines if they were adaptable to local conditions, and most said reciprocity agreements with other states for certified installers were likely. The meeting discussed a number of issues, including how to establish basic competency, if licensing for PV should relate to plumbers or electricians, as well as grandfathering and reciprocity issues. Certification is designed “to provide consumers, the financial community and the PV industry with a consistent quality benchmark for the installation and design of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies,” say background documents. “Certification will increase the safety, reliability, and predictability of installed renewable energy systems.” PV certification will require that applicants pass a written knowledge exam, undergo a skills evaluation, document their installation of three PV systems, document a required number of hours of supervised work experience, submit a signed code of ethics, and attend training or continuing education classes. The administrator of the certification program will provide general business and financial administration, oversee testing procedures, process applications, market the program through public relations and outreach, ensure program quality by enforcing performance standards, support nationwide access, and investigate appeals and complaints. The winning bidder will work with NABCEP to complete and implement the certification program, and a test examination and application packet will be unveiled at a public certification workshop on September 30 in Sacramento. Responses to the RFQ are due by September 27, with final submission of documents expected in December.

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