Much of SEAC’s work happens in working groups. Participation in working groups is open to all and is an excellent way to get involved in SEAC’s efforts to facilitate the deployment and use of affordable, clean and renewable energy in a safe, efficient, and sustainable manner. 

A summary of SEAC’s existing working groups is included below. These working groups were established by the SEAC Steering Committee to work on solutions to priority issues that were identified as barriers to solar, energy storage, and other clean energy projects based on a gap survey SEAC conducted in 2020. 

To be added to a working group, please email Michelle Barrett [michelleb (at) irecusa.org] with the name(s) of the working group(s) you would like to join. 

Recommendations from the Working Groups are presented to the General Assembly for review and approval. Once approved by the Assembly, they must be formally ratified by the Steering Committee to become official SEAC recommendations.

This presentation on SEAC’s Working Groups, presented by SEAC Administrator Larry Sherwood on December 18, 2020 provides additional information. (Note that some new working groups have been added since this presentation, see the list below for the most up-to-date overview of our working groups and their objectives and activities.) 

Current SEAC Working Groups

(Click the name of a Working Group to scroll to the description of its activities.)

ESS Standards

Challenge: AHJs and installers are interpreting ESS standards differently. Some products are having problems meeting the requirements of particular standards. 

Working Group Charge: Investigate ESS Standards that are resulting in different interpretations and make recommendations on how to address the issues.

Working Group Chair: Paul Dailey, Outback Power

Working Group Vice-Chair: Chris Jensen, UL

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Working Group

Challenge: Enforcement of Electric Vehicle Charging installation requirements is inconsistent from one community to the next and requirements are often unclear. Jurisdiction approval is currently a major impediment to the timely deployment of EV charging stations to support the majority of automobile companies transitioning product lines to electric vehicles.

Working Group Charge: 

Identify jurisdictional approval issues for EV charging installations. Potential issues to consider:

  1. AHJs who automatically send plans for planning and zoning:
    • a. Online systems don’t discern EV charging permit applications and send them to all departments for comments.
    • b. Equipment in setbacks, need up front information instead of waiting to go through permit review to find out if allowed or not.
  2. Best practices for EV charging:
    • a. Undersized, but code compliant, installations
    • b. EV Charging that meets environmental and climate goals

For the issues identified, develop recommendations for SEAC to consider, such as:

  1. Permit reviews should be limited to electrical and building safety.  Criteria should be developed for what would trigger planning/zoning review
  2. Guidance on uniform permitting and inspection requirements

Working Group Chair: Mike Stone, NEMA

Working Group Vice Chair: Chris Jenson, UL

ICC Group B Proposals Working Group

Challenge: The International Code Council has a deadline of January 10, 2022 for proposals for its Group B “i-codes”, which include codes pertinent to SEAC’s work. 

Scope: Develop SEAC proposals for Group B ICC Codes (due January 10, 2022), review and prepare positions on related proposals from others, participate in Committee Action Hearing (CAH) and Public Comment Hearing (PCH), and develop responses to comments received.

Working Group Co-Chairs: John Taecker, UL; Joe Cain, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

Working Group Vice-Chair: Ben Davis, California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA)

Possible tasks:

  1. Propose to IRC: 
    • heat detection proposal previously submitted to IFC
    • vehicle impact proposal previously submitted to IFC
    • changes in the separation requirements between outdoor ESS units and doors and windows
    • clarification and/or changes to the drywall requirements for unfinished attached garages
    • changes to the allowable energy ratings
  2. Propose to IEBC: Re-roofing recommendation previously approved by SEAC
  3. Additional items related to storage
  4. Check pointers for PV and ESS in the IEBC
  5. Address ground mounted PV in Chapter 16 of the IBC
  6. Review IRC Sections R324, R328, and Chapter 9 regarding PV and ESS references

National Electrical Code Working Group

Challenge: The National Electrical Code is currently being revised and needs input from knowledgeable experts on sustainable energy issues.

Working Group Charge: Develop public comments on the first draft of the 2023 National Electrical Code.

Working Group Chair: Jason Fisher, Solar Technical Consulting

Working Group Vice-Chair: Pete Jackson, City of Bakersfield

Qualified Professionals 

Challenge: There is a need for qualified personnel especially related to codes and standards for energy storage and solar systems. Qualified personnel includes installers, designers, inspectors, plan checkers, and other stakeholders involved in the permitting process.

Working Group Charge: Develop SEAC recommendations on how to respond to the problem. 

Items to Consider:

  • Why is this a problem? 
  • How do we define “qualified” for these professions? 

The solutions may vary: 

  • for each of the identified jobs
  • for residential, commercial or utility-scale installations 

Potential considerations: 

  • How to increase awareness of training resources
  • Is more training required?
  • Lack of standards for a minimum level of code knowledge
  • Credentialing and licensing requirements
  • Use of third-party inspectors and/or remote inspection
  • What workforce development is needed to create a larger pool of qualified professionals?
  • Will the recommendations make an impact on the problem?
  • Determine ways a lack of awareness of the roles and responsibilities of the codes, standards, and AHJ processes can be addressed

Working Group Chair: Doug Smith, West Coast Code Consultants, Inc.

Working Group Vice-Chair: Evelyn Butler, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

Solar Shade Structures

Challenge: Code requirements (especially fire) for solar shade structures are not clear.

Working Group Charge: Develop SEAC recommendations on how to respond to the problem. 

Working Group Chair: Joe Cain, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

Working Group Vice Chair: John Taecker, UL

Standard and Efficient Permitting and Inspection

Challenge: Many entities have developed or will develop standard permitting and inspection processes including on-line and automated systems.  Many AHJs do not know about these processes or don’t know how to evaluate the different processes.

Working Group Charge:

  • Establish criteria and best practices for standard permitting and inspection processes
  • Identify standard permit and inspection processes and indicate which criteria and best practice each process meets
  • Promote best practices and SEAC recommended guidelines through case studies, white papers, and other means.

Working Group Chair: Darold Wiley, City of Hayward

Working Group Vice-Chairs: Jeff Spies, Planet Plan Sets; Justin Baca, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

Storage Fire Detection 

Challenge: New codes require an interconnected heat detector in residential garages with ESS. There is no such thing as an interconnected “heat detector”. This was a code language error. SEAC recently proposed to update the Fire Code to “Heat Alarm.” There is confusion on when a listed solution might be available, the requirements for installation, and which standards apply. 

Working Group Charge: Develop a recommendation for how AHJs and installers should address this problem in the short-term. 

Working Group Chair: Mark Rodriguez, Sunrun

Working Group Vice-Chair: Jeff Spies, Planet Plan Sets

Storage Snapshot 

Challenge: AHJs and installers are often unfamiliar with ESS requirements 

Working Group Charge: Review the comments received in the gap analysis and: 

  • Identify which issues are already addressed in current or upcoming codes and standards
  • For the issues addressed, recommend or develop fact sheets, white papers or other materials to educate on the issues.
  • For issues not addressed, recommend which issues the SEAC Steering Committee should appoint Working Groups to address. 

Working Group Chair: Doug Harvey, County of Lucie

Working Group Vice-Chair: Steve Jones, UL

Unpermitted Structures 

Challenge: Unpermitted structures, expired building permits, or outstanding code enforcement issues lead to denial of solar permits

​Working Group Charge: Develop recommendation on situations when issuing a solar permit may be justified despite other unresolved code enforcement issues.

Working Group Chair: Brian Tollisen, New York State Department of State

Working Group Vice-Chair: Steve Jones, UL

Vehicle Impact Protection

Challenge: The requirements for protection of storage systems from vehicle impact in garages are unclear. 

Working Group Charge: Develop recommendation(s) for how to address that problem. 

Items to Consider: 

  • What areas does this apply to? (What defines an “area subject to vehicle damage”?)
  • What are approved barriers to protect from vehicle damage?

Working Group Chair: Charles Picard, Tesla​

Working Group Vice-Chair: Ben Davis, California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA)