Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lancaster City Council Adopts Ordinance with Solar Provisions for Home Builders

On March 26, 2013, the City of Lancaster, CA adopted an ordinance that includes solar provisions as part of its residential development standards for home builders. The law, which was passed in furtherance of Lancaster’s General Plan 2030, requires a minimum photo-voltaic kW per unit for single-family homes which receive a building permit after January 1, 2014. The Residential Zones update portion of Ordinance 989 includes a matrix which applies the solar provisions to developments of different sizes and zones, in much the same way that building placement and size is regulated. Section 17.08.305 of Ordinance 989 sets forth the guidelines for solar energy system installation.

The passage of the Residential Zones update may lead to a spike in the need for solar contractors in Southern California. This could result from the Lancaster Ordinance, as well as the general trend in construction for a more environmentally-conscious approach to building. Furthermore, builders in cities close to Lancaster, which is in proximity to both Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, may be seeing a spillover to cities outside of Lancaster because of a potential rise in solar installation there. The most significant piece of knowledge for a California contractor in this regard is the license classification for solar contractors. The California Code of Regulations, pursuant to the Business and Professions Code, calls for a Solar Contractor, License Classification C-46, as follows:

“A solar contractor installs, modifies, maintains, and repairs thermal and photovoltaic solar energy systems.

A licensee classified in this section shall not undertake or perform building or construction trades, crafts, or skills, except when required to install a thermal or photovoltaic solar energy system.”

It is important to remember that a general building contractor must not accept a subcontract unless it includes work in two separate trades, OTHER than carpentry and framing, or the prime contractor also has a license for the specialty required in the subcontract.  Lancaster and Southern California contractors may benefit from attaining the C-46 license classification in preparation for the new law to take effect in 2014.