Please be sure to read the News Blog ( above) for guidance on the downloads and issue updates The latest blog posts on the Solar Career Map and recent BSEE Guidance Memos which reference the court case are also available as pdfs on the right side of this page at the bottom of the group of files.
Solar Licensing in Massachusetts
Whether a solar energy system is producing electricity with photovoltaic technology, solar thermal energy, or multiple energy outputs from the same device, it's construction in Massachusetts requires a building permit. Since the advent of solar installations in the seventies, multiple trades have been coordinated to perform installations of solar equipment. Architectural, engineering and general contracting firms which specialized in solar assembled the expertise and provided turn key installations. The breadth of knowledge needed to field durable and efficient solar systems to consumers encompasses astronomy, geometry, trigonometry, physics, computer programming, renewable energy and utility policy, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering and multiple trades, including glaziers, masons, sheet metal workers, millwrights, crane operators, carpenters, roofers, welders, electricians, HVAC technicians, gas fitters and plumbers. A Massachusetts solar credential will assure consumers that their installation is properly coordinated by a person or firm with a proven competency integrating all areas. Most of the pioneering firms in Massachusetts have proven this competency voluntarily by becoming certified under the rigorous tests of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners at www.nabcep.org.
Clarity on who can install solar is critical because one trade has declared all solar electric work as their own, including the structural, mechanical and waterproofing work. In early 2009, the Board of State Examiners of Electricians (BSEE) promulgated an advisory ruling which effectively states that any and all aspects of photovoltaic work must be done by licensed electricians. This ruling was made without consulting solar industry trade groups or any of their numerous firms registered and licensed in state. These firms have previously installed fully permitted solar electric installations by subcontracting the services of multiple licensed trades, including electricians. Despite a 30 year history of successful installations under the existing regulations, this new ruling hinders the installation of solar in Massachusetts by nearly all of these successful companies and prevents experienced solar technicians from performing field work.
Several BSEE enforcement actions using this ruling have resulted in two cases against General Contractors which are now in their third year of appeal. A group of Massachusetts solar firms including some of the oldest and most experienced in the country have filed a suit against the BSEE to rescind this ruling.
The group is represented pro bono by the Harvard Law School Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, and asked the court for a return to the pre-2009 status quo. In July 2012 the Suffolk Superior Court ruled in favor of the solar industry and against the BSEE. Since the Court ruling however the BSEE abetted by Electrical Industry associations and the IBEW Local 103 continues to interpret statutes , laws and codes to reserve all solar work for electricians only.
Please read the blog news items above for updates and details .
What You Can Do
Your voice in support of a solar credential in Massachusetts is needed. Please reach out to the state elected government through one or all of the following methods:
- Please leave your name on this website to show your support to establish a solar license credential in Massachusetts. Your name will be submitted to state officials, representatives, and senators in a paper copy. You can choose not to display your name on our website but still join other supporters of this bill.
- Please write to the Representatives and senators listed to the right and to Governor Deval Patrick indicating your support of a Solar Contractor license for Massachusetts. Click on the officials name to get contact information
- We're told that e-mails frequently don't get through to elected officials; letters are best, but you'll find the e-contacts for each legislator by clicking on their names.