With the development of the Smart Grid and the resulting increased integration of renewable energy systems, alternative energy sources are here to stay. Many public utilities have stepped up their investment in alternative energy systems, including alternative energy sourced from customer-owned power generation systems, such as residential solar energy system. The Smart Grid is still currently developing to account for all the myriad functions it is expected to respond to, not only for renewable energy goals but also economics, national security, and a quicker response time in cases of power outages. This might make the job of electricians somewhat easier, but it also means that electricians would need to get a leg up in alternative energy sources if they want to be able to deliver relevant and up-to-date electrical services.
The use of the Smart Grid enables more efficient delivery of energy from the source to where the demand is, thus responding to one of the greater drawbacks of renewable energy: its inability to meet peak energy demands. Ideally, the Smart Grid should be able to integrate alternative energy sources such as wind turbines, PV or photovoltaic panels, and other alternative energy sources.
These developments have created another nuance to the installation of electrical systems, which is to update the current lines of energy distribution and to ensure the proper installation of grid-connected power-generating equipment. Various states that are quickly making the transition to alternative energy sources have also begun to set up rules and regulations regarding any type of electrical work involving alternative energy. The bottom line is, the installation of alternative-energy producing equipment, particularly those that connect directly to Smart-grid lines, must be handled by licensed electricians. In many jurisdictions, therefore, alternative energy systems have been properly classified as falling under electrical work, which only state-licensed electricians can do.
This does not account for other aspects of alternative energy installation, which might involve roofing work for PV systems, contractors regarding building structure and construction work, or engineers in the design work. But electrical work should be considered as specific to electricians, particularly electricians with sufficient training and experience in alternative energy systems.
These developments in the power industry make it imperative for electricians to get appropriate training and experience, as there are those who would do the work themselves even though they aren’t licensed electricians, on the strength of alternative energy systems training, which arguably anyone can do. DIYers, for instance, might not think twice about setting up their own home-based power generation system with no professional assistance, forgetting that electrical work should only be done by licensed electricians. After all, no matter how you dress things up in alternative energy jargon, the work still involves electricity, and there are dangers to electrical work that need to be accounted for, as well as legal codes that need to be met. The simplest solution is for electricians to fill in that gap as quickly as possible, by updating their work skills and training to include alternative energy systems work. The great thing is that there are some training institutes offering alternative energy systems education, alternative energy contractors with whom one might train with and gain practical experience, and certainly no end to alternative energy projects that are projected to create thousands of new jobs for green electricians.