Going solar? Electricians issue warning

BY KARYL WALKER Editor Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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THE Jamaica Licensed Electricians Association (JLEA) is warning Jamaicans who plan to install solar panels on their premises that approval must first be granted by regulatory bodies.


"Firstly, you must get approval from the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation). The OUR will give you the necessary approval and it must be done by a certified engineer before you can actually start the work. Then it must be inspected and the necessary certification given by the Government Electrical Inspectorate," Ewart Foster, a representative of the JLEA, told reporters and editors during yesterday's weekly Observer Monday Exchange.


Thomas was peeved that most persons are taking a willy nilly approach to installing solar systems and other equipment and are compromising their safety and that of others.


"What is happening now, people are doing the thing the opposite way. They don't use the right material and don't do the work to the correct standard and might not be inspected and you find persons spending billions of dollars and it might go up in smoke," he said.


He called on the OUR to actively educate the public about the dangers of installing solar systems without adhering to the proper procedure.


One of the main functions of the Electricity Division of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining is to inspect and certify all new industrial, commercial, and domestic installations before they are connected to the power grid.


Omar Palarchie, a licensed electrician and prominent member of the JLEA, pointed out that any electrical equipment that is being connected to the national grid must first be inspected.


"You can't just go ahead and connect something to the Jamaica Public Service grid," he told the Monday Exchange. "JPS is not going to allow that, because the system is already running to a certain efficiency and adding anything to it can upset that integrity."


He also pointed out that for safety reasons all solar systems connected to the power grid must be retrofitted with a 'on and off' switch.


"There are some little grey areas that will require all of us (electricians and electrical engineers) to come together to ensure compliance," Palarchie said.


The JLEA was formed in February this year and currently has some 200 members.


According to Thomas, the association was formed out off the need to regulate the industry and maintain professional standards among licensed electricians and electrical engineers.


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