Notice: This Article is not intended to be legal advice. It is intended for general awareness.
A wide range of Arizona and Federal laws, regulations, standards, codes, best practices, local zoning apply to selling, purchasing, installing, and using renewable energy systems and related devices. The main objectives are safety, consumer protection and incentives for adoption. However, some may also present obstacles to the adoption of renewable energy (see the article Barriers to PV Implementation).
Since renewable energy, and specifically solar, are complex and related to many aspects of our lives, there are many laws and related rules that apply.
Arizona Revised Statures (ARS - the basic set of laws) ARS 44-1761 Solar Energy Devices - Definitions defines "solar device" in a very general sense. The Arizona Commerce Authority issued a more definitive set of definitions Arizona Solar Devices: Guidelines. For most devices the applicable standards, rating, certifications, etc. are defined. The bottom-line when it comes to solar devices - any " solar device" that does not meet the standards, rating, certification or other part(s) of these guidelines, MAY NOT BE SOLD AND/OR INSTALLED IN ARIZONA.
Another set of laws and regulations define who can sell solar devices. The laws about tax credits and related items are issued by the Arizona Department of Revenue and the Arizona Commerce Authority. There is a requirement to register as a seller. Only registered sellers can use the sales tax (Transaction Tax) exemption. See the form and the instructions on the form: Solar Energy Devices Application for Registration Form 6015.
In 2016 the Arizona Legislature enacted SB-1417 titled "distributed energy generation systems" that amended many sections of the laws (AMENDING SECTIONS 32-1154, 32-1155, 44-1761, 44-1762 AND 44-1763, ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES; AMENDING TITLE 44, CHAPTER 11, ARTICLE 11, ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES, BY ADDING SECTION 44-1764; RELATING TO SOLAR ENERGY DEVICES.). The Legislative effort to "protect solar customers" has complicated the sale of these solar devices in many ways. Part of the law now requires the seller to specify the lifetime maintenance costs of systems, yet the law offers no definition of the lifetime nor is there any technical consensus on the issue. See our separate article on Arizona SB 1417-2016 impacts.
Codes and Standards
More laws define how a system is to be installed. The National Electrical Code has design, workmanship and material requirements (Codes & Standards) and limits voltages and currents to safe limits. Some systems may need to be designed by a registered engineer (electrical, structural, etc.), see the article on (Arizona Board of Technical Registration). Installation is regulated by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. Recent law has assigned some of the contract regulation to the Registrar ( Arizona SB 1417-2016 impacts).
Cities, counties, and towns issue building permits that require conforming to Building and Fire Code requirements. Permits generally cost about 2% of the project value, while two sections of ARS (11-323 & ARS 9-468) limit permit and plan review fees to the actual cost of review, but are often ignored by some jurisdictions unless there are complaints. The permit process can take months.
(Article under development)