UL and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) recently announced an agreement to begin offering UL's Photovoltaic (PV) Installer Certification to IBEW members and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). The collaboration will provide members access to a nationally recognized UL credential, allow them to broaden their skills in an increasingly competitive labor market and improve market access to licensed, qualified electricians for safer PV installations.
In the second quarter of 2012, the U.S. solar energy market grew by 45%, lifted by a record 477MW of utility-scale installations, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. It forecasts that 3.2GW of PV will be installed in the U.S. in 2012, a 71% increase over 2011. As solar energy installation continues to grow, qualified electrical installers remain in high demand.
UL's PV Installer Certification, established in 2010, was designed to meet and exceed existing industry requirements through a working cooperation with stakeholders, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and professional associations. Making the certification exam available to more than 675,000 IBEW members and 119 local NECA chapters builds on that commitment and helps improve the safety and performance of PV systems through a more qualified workforce.Unlike other programs, UL only certifies qualified professionals, including licensed electricians or final year apprentices in the NJATC PV training program.
"Our certification designates that individuals have demonstrated the ability to perform safe and accurate PV installations, which is especially important for large-scale projects often with several hundred megawatts of power," said Jill Oakman, general manager, UL Knowledge Services. "The move to collaborate with IBEW supports our mission to empower smarter, safer, more efficient and more effective professionals."
To earn UL certification, electricians completing the hands-on, classroom-based PV training program with either UL Knowledge Services or National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) must register and sit for an exam assessing their knowledge. Successful exam completion earns final year apprentices status as UL Certified PV Installers in Training, while journeymen are named UL Certified PV Installers.
"Electricians who complete the NJATC training courses have received 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and logged 900 hours in classroom learning," said Michael Callanan, executive director, NJATC. "They are the best in the industry and through this program, will be able to affirm and showcase their expertise of safe, effective PV installations."
The average cost of UL's PV Installer Exam is $300 per person. Discounted pricing is offered for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to register for the exam, visit www.njatc.org/cert/pv/about.aspx.