WSR 14-16-042
[Filed July 28, 2014, 4:58 p.m.]
Original Notice.
Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 14-06-029.
Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: Amendments to chapter 51-51 WAC: Section 2302 of the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC).
Hearing Location(s): Fire Department Training Center, 1618 South Rebecca Street, Spokane, WA, on September 12, 2014, at 10 a.m.; and at DES Presentation Room, 1500 Jefferson S.E., Olympia, WA 98504, on October 10, 2014, at 10 a.m.
Date of Intended Adoption: November 14, 2014.
Submit Written Comments to: Ray Allshouse, P.O. Box 41449, Olympia, WA 98504-1449, e-mail sbcc@ga,wa,gov [], fax (360) 586-5366, by October 24, 2014.
Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Peggy Bryden by September 2, 2014, (360) 407-9280.
Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: This rule will modify chapter 51-51 WAC to allow installation of photovoltaic panels and modules on residential rooftops without the need for an engineering report, and will relax local permitting requirements. Under the current rules, some local jurisdictions require the added cost of engineering reports in order to issue a permit for installation of these systems. This rule would provide more efficient and cost-effective installation of PV systems on residential rooftops. This is also the subject of an emergency rule currently in place under WSR 14-14-003.
Reasons Supporting Proposal: The rule is intended to streamline the regulatory process for installation of solar photovoltaic systems in accordance with state policy.
Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 19.27.074, 19.27.031.
Statute Being Implemented: Chapter 19.27 RCW.
Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.
Name of Proponent: State building code council (SBCC), governmental.
Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting and Implementation: Joanne McCaughan, P.O. Box 41449, Olympia, WA 98504-1449, (360) 407-9279; Enforcement: Local jurisdictions.
A small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW.
Small Business Economic Impact Statement
Executive Summary: Impact on small business – the proposed rule does not have a negative impact on small businesses.
During the 2014 SBCC cycle of code amendment proposal review, the council received two proposals for consideration re: Changing the requirements for installation of solar power modules on residential rooftops under the IRC. These proposals were reviewed by the IRC technical advisory group (TAG) for review and recommendation. After deliberation and subsequent proposal revision, TAG recommended that the council adopt the changes as amended on an emergency rule basis. The emergency rule went into effect July 1, 2014.
The proponent asserted that the existing 2012 IRC base code language had severely limited the potential for efficient and effective residential PV system installation. It was reported by the proponents that in many jurisdictions around the state, installers were required to provide detailed engineering reports, resulting in higher costs and significant project delays. As a result, some installation companies refused to do any marketing or installations in those communities where the local officials required these extensive, expensive reports. This rule would clarify that when designed and installed according to certain requirements and the manufacturers' specifications, the roof structure would be deemed adequate to support the installation of the equipment, thus permit requirements would be relaxed.
Section I: Introduction/Compliance with the Proposed Rules - Who is required to comply with the rules?
Local building departments will be able to use the rules to process requests for project permits without requirements for an engineering report. This will speed up the administrative review process for residential rooftop solar installation projects. These jobs will no longer require an engineer's stamp for approval of the project, thus the building official will be able to process the paperwork more quickly.
Section II: Compliance Costs for Washington Businesses - Impact on sales or revenue.
These rules will reduce the cost of compliance for Washington solar installation businesses, because they will no longer be required to submit engineering reports for most rooftop solar installations. This will speed the administrative permitting requirements so that less time will be needed for review and processing of permits. This will result in additional time available for taking on additional contracts, and will save the costs related to engineering reports under current requirements.
Section III: Analysis of Proportionate Impact on Small Businesses:
TABLE ONE: Small Businesses Impacted by Solar PV Rules
Type of business
(UP TO 49 Employees)
Solar PV Manufacturers
Residential PV Installers
* The census does not specify/classify this industry type, i.e., solar installation/manufacturing, at this time. These estimates are based on data from the WSU extension energy program.
The impact on small businesses compared to the largest businesses in the state would not be disproportionate.
Section IV: Small Business Involvement and Impact Reduction Efforts:
Actions Taken to Reduce the Impact of the Rule on Small Businesses:
Solar installation companies worked with the Washington state energy office to collaboratively bring forward proposals for modification of the 2012 residential code through the residential code TAG. Consideration was given to the original proposals, and TAG provided a forum for the affected parties to bring forward a modified proposal for which consensus was reached. The issue was deemed appropriate to be filed as an emergency rule1, based on information provided by the small business groups, the energy office staff, and other interested parties. There is no anticipated negative impact on small business as a result of these proposed rules as modified and adopted by the council. There will be cost savings associated with relaxing the building permit requirements; those savings will be passed on to customers. Ninety-seven percent of the solar PV market in Washington is in the residential sector; this rule will allow that market to continue to grow.
Involvement of small business in the development of the proposed rules.
Section V: Number of Affected Businesses In Washington:
Installers = 25 (50 ees or less)
Manufacturers = 8 (50 ees or less)
Section VI: Jobs Created or Lost as a Result of These Rules: These rules will be neutral in terms of job creation and/or loss. To the degree that additional projects are taken on, there would be an increase in the number of systems sold, and an increase in the number of jobs for which an installation company would be contracted.
1 Emergency rule filed on June 19, 2014, as WSR 14-14-003.
A copy of the statement may be obtained by contacting Joanne McCaughan, SBCC, P.O. Box 41449, Olympia, WA 98504-1449, phone (360) 480-2596, fax (360) 586-9088, e-mail
A cost-benefit analysis is not required under RCW 34.05.328. SBCC is not a listed agency under RCW 34.05.328 (5)(a)(i).
June 13, 2014
C. Ray Allshouse
Council Chair
WAC 51-51-2300 Section M2302Photovoltaic solar energy systems.
M2302.2 Requirements. The installation, inspection, maintenance, repair and replacement of photovoltaic systems and all system components shall comply with the manufacturer's instructions, sections M2302.2.1 through M2302.2.3, NFPA 70, and the IFC as amended by Washington state.
M2302.2.1 Roof-mounted panels and modules. Where photovoltaic panels and modules are installed on roofs, the roof shall be constructed to support the loads imposed by such modules.
The roof structure shall be deemed adequate to support the load of the rooftop solar photovoltaic system if all of the following requirements are met:
1. The solar photovoltaic panel system shall be designed for the wind speed of the local area, and shall be installed per the manufacturer's specifications.
2. The ground snow load does not exceed 70 pounds per square foot.
3. The total dead load of modules, supports, mountings, raceways, and all other appurtenances weigh no more than four pounds per square foot.
4. Photovoltaic modules are not mounted higher than 18 inches above the surface of the roofing to which they are affixed.
5. Supports for solar modules are to be installed to spread the dead load across as many roof-framing members as needed, so that no point load exceeds 50 pounds.
Roof-mounted photovoltaic panels and modules that serve as roof covering shall conform to the requirements for roof coverings in Chapter 9. Where mounted on or above the roof coverings, the photovoltaic panels and modules and supporting structure shall be constructed of noncombustible materials or fire-retardant treated wood equivalent to that required for the roof construction.