IREC looks to improve solar plan review, code inspection process with Guide updates

irec solar permit review

When an industry grows as fast as solar, and local jurisdictions across the country have different plan review and inspection standards, sharing national best practices and encouraging consistency can help make timelines and expenses easier to anticipate. And when expectations are the same at every stage – on the part of building plan reviewers, inspectors and installers – expenses associated with inefficiencies or delays are less likely to impact consumers.

Just released, new updated guidelines created by the independent Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) can help local jurisdictions improve the solar plan review and field inspection process. The checklists – which can be tailored for local and state code requirements while meeting national best practices – can then be used by plan reviewers, inspectors and installers.

Previously identified by code officials as a top five solar resource, IREC’s expanded “Plan Review and Inspection Guidelines: Model Inspection Checklists for Rooftop PV” now includes solar specific code requirements updated to the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC) and the most current international building, residential and fire codes, as well as additional insight on safety and new technologies. It provides guidelines for reviewing building permit plan applications and inspecting most residential rooftop PV systems.

“Solar capacity has grown exponentially since the first model inspection checklist was released in 2013, as has the number of code officials who see solar in their communities,” says IREC Workforce Director Laure-Jeanne Davignon. “Best practices and guidance documents like these are increasingly important to ensure consumer confidence and consistent practices throughout the country.”

“Tools like IREC’s Model Inspection Guidelines are invaluable to support the work of building and electrical inspectors. By consulting this comprehensive guide to an effective solar inspection, individual inspectors and AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) can tailor the tool to fit their needs in the office and in the field,” says Pete Jackson, chief electrical inspector for the town of Bakersfield, CA.

Solar installers can save time and resources by using an updated inspection checklist, including to address concerns prior to inspection. These guidelines can help educate and refresh about requirements for a code-compliant installation.

The International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) and the International Code Council (ICC) contributed to the updating of this document, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

— Solar Builder magazine


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