New Standards to Fill Void in Provincial FIT Program

Photo: Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Kronick

Canada’s construction electricians will soon have an independent, third-party set of standards to help prepare them for work with solar PV projects.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has announced, in conjunction with the National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO), a certification program for construction electricians installing PV systems in Canada.  

Canada’s renewable energy industry has picked up considerable momentum in the year and a half since Ontario announced a provincial feed-in tariff (FIT) program for clean power fed into the grid.  In addition to a surge in solar and other renewable energy projects, domestic content requirements of the FIT have led to an influx of manufacturing projects and green training programs.  The speed of the industry’s progress has left a dearth of standards to deal with the new realities of solar, and CSA’s new set of criteria is designed to fill this void, thus, ensuring the safety of contractors and property and the success of the provincial incentive.

Solar Certification Program Ready by Next Year
CSA is a not-for-profit, membership-based association with a long history of creating safety and performance standards for use in Canada and abroad.  Its commitment to solar and other renewable energy technologies is apparent not only in this new personnel certification program, but also in the company’s certification program for Greenhouse Gas Certifiers and Greenhouse Gas Inventory Quantifiers, as well as its PV testing laboratories in Vancouver and New Mexico.

NETCO is the training branch for both the Canadian Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, First District, Canada.  The council will provide the funds for the new Construction Electricians – Solar PV Systems program as part of its National Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Strategy.  The CSA/NETCO partnership is drafting the criteria to fit with international standards, with a focus on journeypersons, who are not only certified to work, but who also will qualified to mentor the next generation of trades people.   

Final drafts of the new training criteria should be complete by the summer of 2011.  According to NETCO President, Phil Flemming, construction electricians will require an additional sixteen to twenty-four hours of training before they are qualified to install solar projects under the new system.  He expects that the country’s PV training providers will align themselves with the CSA’s standards once the criteria are final.

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Austin Brentley is a born and bred Washingtonian who has spent the last 9 years traveling the globe, living in New York, Hawaii, Japan, Thailand, France, and most recently, Malaysia.  Passionate about all things green, Austin currently works with the Ontario Solar Academy, writing news stories and blogs about North America's growing solar revolution.  Feel free to drop him a line if you have questions about photovoltaic technology or solar panel installation training.