California License Board votes to severely limit solar contractors installing batteries

electrical contractor with red tape

The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) approved a new rule late last week that would prohibit licensed solar contractors from installing new battery storage capacity to existing solar systems. It also prohibits solar contractors from performing maintenance on battery storage systems — including systems they installed themselves. Those projects would now require a licensed electrician.

Licensed solar contractors would still be able to install smaller battery storage at the same time as a solar system installation. “But the inability to offer warranties on those systems renders the allowance impractical,” notes the California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA).

What happens next? The rule will now be reviewed by the California Office of Administrative Law to ensure the regulations are “clear, necessary, and legally valid” and that the CSLB complied with the standards set forth in California’s Administrative Procedure Act. The rule could then go into effect as early as the Fall of 2024.

The new rule was opposed by the solar and storage industry, along with unions representing laborers and carpenters. The electrician union supported the change.

If allowed, this is yet another huge change in the California solar + storage market place that will impact many installers. Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSSA, put it in perspective, amid all of the other changes California has imposed on the home solar + storage market the past two years:

“California keeps saying one thing but doing another when it comes to the fight against climate change. In just the past year, California slashed rooftop solar incentives, prohibited self-generation for schools and farms, and proposed expensive fixed charges that hurt energy conservation and low energy users. Now they are undermining California’s emerging battery storage progress through severe workforce limitations. This has to stop if we are to move forward as a state, keep energy prices low, and prevent future blackouts.”

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