Code crisis averted: ICC ready to designate solar, storage as Risk Category 2

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In a release of preliminary results on the 2024 ICC Building Code online governmental vote, the International Code Council’s (ICC) members have approved two compromise proposals from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) that designate solar and storage projects as Risk Category 2 infrastructure.

Without SEIA’s proposals, S79-22 and S81-22, a proposal from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), S76-22, would have required solar, storage and wind projects to meet Risk Category 4 requirements — the most stringent risk category — which is typically reserved for hospitals, fire, police and other emergency services buildings and structures. SEIA’s approved proposals provide a critical carveout for solar and storage facilities.

Following is a statement by SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper:

“We are grateful to the ICC voters for recognizing how impractical it was to include solar and storage projects as Risk Category 4. This decision is undoubtedly a victory for clean energy deployment in the United States after more than 300 companies signed a letter urging approval of SEIA’s compromise proposals.

“The extreme and overly burdensome code measures that would have been required under the FEMA proposal could have stifled clean energy growth without improving grid resilience. The resulting effect, whether intended or not, would have been a disastrous decrease in renewable energy projects while we aggressively strive to meet important climate goals.

“We can’t stress enough how important it is for clean energy advocates to continue active participation in these codes and standards forums. The taxpayer-funded process managed by government agencies such as FEMA to develop building codes proposals should allow more collaboration, transparency and participation from stakeholders. In this case, it did not include input from the day-to-day experts on real world economic impacts, electricity grid reliability, sustainability and climate change.

“Together, we can better evolve solar and storage codes and standards and avoid any similar situations in the future.”

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