The New Mexico solar industry received a curious surprise this week at a meeting hosted by the Construction Industries Division (CID) Bureau Chief for the Electrical Division. At that meeting, the Bureau Chief announced that he would be directing CID to enforce a provision of the 2014 National Electric Code (NEC) that has been the subject of some controversy in other states. That provision is known as the “Rapid Shutdown” and is found at Section 690.12 of the code. In essence, this provision requires the installation of equipment that would allow first-responders to ensure that all direct current circuits have been broken and are no longer capable of energizing any portion of the system. It does not require any particular piece of equipment, and as it turns out, no such equipment currently exists on the market.
There is another provision of the NEC (section 90.4 – “Enforcement”), however, which states:
This Code may require new products, constructions, or materials that may not yet be available at the time the Code is adopted. In such event, the authority having jurisdiction may permit the use of the products, constructions, or materials that comply with the most recent previous edition of this Code adopted by the jurisdiction.
In this instance, there simply is no equipment yet available, and the only equipment that has been identified would add approximately $2,000 to $2,500 in cost to an average residential system, cost that was not included in the cost-planning for many jobs that have in fact already been installed and are simply in limbo.
Affordable Solar and the Renewable Energy Industries Association have both come forward in opposition to a retroactive application of this provision until such time as the equipment needed to comply with it are safety-tested and available. Please see Affordable Solar’s full letter to CID below, as well as that of the industry association (REIA).