Solar energy continues to be a priority for Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration in New York City, and the announcement of professional certifications being introduced into the planning stage only serves to speed up the process.
What are professional certifications?
Beginning on January 1, 2016, registered engineers and architects will be able to push through small scale solar energy installations by certifying the project against their licenses, according to a press release by the New York Department of Buildings. This program is aimed at keeping the waiting line for approvals to a minimum, thereby reserving the waiting time for larger projects and corporations.
"We've found that one of the biggest obstacles to expanding solar energy in New York City has been how complicated it's been to get solar panel installations approved," said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability. "This takes away a sizeable hurdle, and will lead to homeowners and residents being able to save money and use clean energy sooner than ever before."
The press release reported that solar installations are up from just 60 filings in 2012, to 1,200 at the time of the press release. Around 70 percent of those projects are classified as low-risk and would benefit from the program. The professional certification process should allow contractors to take on more projects than before, as well as finish them at faster rates.
How does it help?
The program comes with certain stipulations engineers must meet before submitting against their license:
- Generate a maximum of 10 kilowatts of power
- Installation of panels curbed to a maximum of two homes
- Systems must lay on a pitched roof with a slope greater than 20 degrees
After the project has met these requirements, the engineer will be able to file a professional certification for it. Once started, the installation will be subject to an enhanced audit that will cover New York City construction codes and zoning resolution. Contractors who push through projects that aren't up to code and would otherwise be rejected will wind up with their license to operate in jeopardy after the system reviews their plans.
In the long run, the program will help speed up the process for homeowners to install solar paneling in an effort to maintain the city's goal towards reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
New York currently ranks 7th in the nation for solar energy installations in 2014, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. In that year, the state installed 147 megawatts of solar energy. New York City hopes to see the installation of 100 MW of solar energy on public buildings and 250 MW on private structures by 2025.
The new professional certification program is a step in the right direction for incentivizing residential solar energy installation, and New York City will be worth monitoring in the future to see how this affects its goals on transitioning to an environmentally friendly metropolis.