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UPDATE: Energy Storage Safety and Qualified Workers

Fire Safety Experts, Environmentalists, Electricians, Construction Workers and Others Support Contractors State License Board Vote to Further Examine Classifications Surrounding Battery Energy Storage Systems


SAN DIEGO—Today, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) voted to direct staff to further explore the complexities (size, voltage) and potential risks involved in installing battery energy storage systems (BESS) and to draft regulatory language the Board would consider at a later time.


Current regulations require a C-10 electrical contractor’s license to install battery energy storage systems as a stand-alone system. However, ambiguity in the regulations has led C-46 licensed contractors (solar photovoltaic companies) and their employees to install battery energy storage systems when paired with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system.


Improper installation can lead to electrocution, arc flashes, arc blasts, fires, explosions, thermal runaway and exposure to hazardous chemicals and gases.


The vote was viewed as a step in the right direction by California electricians and construction workers and was supported by fire safety experts, utilities, the Sierra Club, and others during public comment.


“Licensed C-10 electrical contractors and their employees have the expertise and extensive training to safely install and maintain these advanced technologies that essentially act as mini power plants. While we feel battery energy storage systems should only be installed by trained and certified employees of C-10 electrical contractors, we support the Board’s decision to continue to examine the certifications under the regulatory process and to keep public safety at the forefront of all discussions.”

Eddie Bernacchi, Legislative and Regulatory Advocate, National Electrical Contractors Association-California

Prior to the vote, more than 140 organizations to include firefighters, building inspectors, property owners, seniors, small businesses owners, environmentalists, electricians, labor and safety inspectors submitted a letter to the Board urging them to protect public safety by requiring only qualified and properly-licensed electrical C-10 contractors be permitted to install battery energy storage systems. The Board also received a letter signed by more than 70 public officials and a petition signed by more than 2,800 citizens.

C-10 licensed contractors are required by state law to employ electricians that have 8,000 hours of electrical experience, must pass a rigorous state exam, have specialized training in all types of electrical work, including connecting electrical equipment to the grid, and have a thorough understanding of the National Electrical Code which is critical to preventing injury.

On the other hand, C-46 licensed contractors and their employees have no state requirements for electrical training and certification and do not have a background in electrical theory and safety.

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