July 21, 2021

What you need to know about electrification licenses and permits as an electrical contractor


4 Min. Read

Renewable energy is a source in the United States. It increased 100% between 2000 and 2018, and the overall share of renewables has surpassed 20% in 2021. This sector has created thousands of jobs. It has opened up new business opportunities for contractors.

With the renewable energy transition comes new expectations for electrical contractors. Standards are accepted and new regulations spring up with them. Equipped with an understanding of green licenses and permits, you can open your business to contracts in various niches. This includes at-home EV charger station installations.

Standardization in the world of renewable energy

As the renewable energy market surges, international and local standards need to keep pace. Existing standards must be changed or restructured to deal with new technologies. This includes post-installation services, repairs and maintenance.

Cities are moving fast to make standardization a priority so services can be consistent nationwide.

Certifications, licenses and permits for electrical contractors

It can be confusing to sift through all the terms related to renewable energy. For electrical contractors, we will look at a few definitions:

Certifications. Certifications are optional for electrical contractors. They are not required for contractors to perform work, but they add credibility. They are a good marketing tool to showcase that you have studied and earned a certificate in a specific area of your trade (such as a renewable energy certificate).

Licenses. These are very different from certifications. Licenses are issued by each state and must be held by electrical contractors to legally perform and provide services in their area. A license requirement protects customers from the dangers inherent in electrical work

Permits. Permits are necessary documents that must be applied for at the city level where you are working. The National Electrical Code (NEC) provides standards and guidelines on how electrical work should be performed. Electrical contractors need to “pull” permits before any work is started. This protects both the customer and the contractor.

Knowing the differences between these terms is important. In the electrical contracting industry, staying current with any changes to codes, permits or licensing requirements is a must.

Opportunities and advantages in renewable energy

The renewable energy market provides several opportunities for electrical contractors and can transform struggling contractors into successful ones. Here are a few advantages.

  • A new customer base for contractors. New technology in energy brings new business opportunities. More customers are installing solar panels, battery storage systems as well as charging stations for their EVs. This opens up new territory for their business.
  • Retrofits can be profitable. When merging old technology with new, electrical contractors will be in demand to help with these projects. This creates new revenue streams for the business.
  • Increased knowledge base. Learning new technology makes you more marketable as an electrical contractor.

Renewable energy typically consists of solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and a few others. Within each of these areas, contractors are needed to install technology and provide repairs.

In the solar niche, electricians are in high demand to integrate solar panels and complete wiring. The explosion of electrical vehicles in the market opens up an entirely new area with limitless potential.

By 2025, EV’s are expected to comprise 10%of the new car market. The automobile landscape is changing daily and will spark new businesses and opportunities down the line. Customers are demanding in-home EV charging stations, and businesses are installing charging units in their parking facilities. This is a great opportunity for electrical contractors to get new business.

Differences in residential versus commercial installs

There is demand for both residential and commercial charging stations, and electrical contractors should be aware of some differences.

Residential projects require permits. Site plans and load calculations will need to be submitted and approved before work starts. Residential applications have normally been less complex but with the advent of new electrification technology the complexity is growing.

Commercial installs also require permits, but may require additional paperwork, depending on location. They can be more complex, since some locations require intensive work to extend access to power.

In either situation, it is important to understand and apply all codes as dictated by NFPA 70 and to research recent aspects of the code. For example, Article 625 applies specifically to charging equipment that is external to the vehicle.

Partner with Qmerit for success

Qmerit has a Certified Solutions Partner (CSP) program that offers electrical contractors the opportunity to learn new techniques in the electrification field through in-depth training and continuing education programs. Qmerit also provides business coaching workforce development for electrical contractors. It is a unique and positive partnership that helps contractors get ready for the new stream of business that will be coming their way.

This partnership will open up a new customer base for your electrical contracting company, provide training and resources, and make you a leader in your local market.

Reach out to Qmerit for more information today.