SEIA slams FEMA proposal that would force PV projects be built to withstand natural disasters as ‘a complete mess’  

The proposals would force solar projects to be built to withstand natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes, which SEIA said would drive up costs and reduce deployment. Image: SEIA via Twitter

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has slammed a proposed rule change that would see solar PV projects in the US categorised as high risk structures, pushing up development costs and dampening the positive impact of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Today, the US’ International Code Council will begin voting on rule S76-22, which would require solar plants to be built to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

“This change would cause a dramatic, untenable spike in construction costs and require more steel and high-rated solar modules than what is available on the market,” a SEIA spokesperson told PV Tech.

“In essence, the potential for clean energy deployment after passage of the Inflation Reduction Act would be dramatically reduced.”

Enacted by the US’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the rule changes would increase the structural risk category (RC) of most large-scale PV, energy storage and wind projects to category four, which is the same as hospitals, fire stations and police stations.

Today, roughly 95% of large-scale PV facilities are designed and permitted in the first and lowest risk category, SEIA said, adding that the proposals were “poorly defined and technically unworkable”.

“In its current form, S76-22 would cause a drastic spike in construction costs, forcing the cancellation of dozens of gigawatts of clean energy projects that support thousands of jobs and that the United States is relying on to boost grid resiliency,” wrote SEIA’s CEO and president, Abigail Ross Hopper.

In fact, improving grid resilience is the purpose of the proposed changes. Supporters of the law change argue that applying standards to a project’s structural calculations will lead to greater grid reliability, fewer power outages and improved functional recovery of buildings. This has becoming increasingly important in the US, which has experienced a mounting number of power outages of late, but SEIA said the rule would do little to support grid reliability.

“What’s so backwards about this is that FEMA’s goal is reliability, and this would reduce reliability,” said the trade body’s spokesperson. “It’s easy for FEMA to impose the strictest engineering standards for anything, but in practical market terms, these standards would eliminate independent power producers and cut back solar deployment, which reduces reliability.”

“The process is a complete mess and there is no opportunity for public input,” they added, urging solar stakeholders to oppose the proposals and sign its letter of opposition.

“In practice, this code change will make most solar and storage projects too costly to build, which will weaken the grid and stop clean energy development in its tracks – all without any benefits to reliable electric service,” said Hopper.  

27 June 2024
9am BST
FREE WEBINAR -This special webinar will take a deep dive into the latest PV ModuleTech Bankability Ratings pyramid, capturing the relative bankability status of the top 70-80 PV module suppliers globally. In addition to revealing the latest ranking of global PV module suppliers, PV Tech’s Head of Research, Finlay Colville, will show the depth of analysis and commentary included within the report for module suppliers. A key output from the webinar will be to learn which PV module suppliers have moved up the rankings pyramid in recent years and why this growth has been achieved. Conversely, some of the companies that have fallen down the rankings will be discussed, in particular those suffering from market-share losses and financial problems.
8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.
26 November 2024
Málaga, Spain
Understanding PV module supply to the European market in 2025. PV ModuleTech Europe 2024 is a two-day conference that tackles these challenges directly, with an agenda that addresses all aspects of module supplier selection; product availability, technology offerings, traceability of supply-chain, factory auditing, module testing and reliability, and company bankability.
11 March 2025
Frankfurt, Germany
The conference will gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing out to 2030 and beyond.
17 June 2025
Napa, USA
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 17-18 June 2025, will be our fourth PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2026 and beyond.

Read Next

June 14, 2024
Ørsted has commissioned its Helena Energy Center in the US state of Texas, a 518MW co-located solar and wind project.
June 14, 2024
US renewable energy project developer Ameren Missouri has acquired a 150MW solar PV project in the state of Illinois.
June 14, 2024
PV Tech's coverage of the SNEC 2024 trade show continues on day two, kicking off with a discussion with GCL System Integration.
June 14, 2024
PV Tech Premium looks at FERC's recent ruling on Order 1920 and how it will affect transmission planning in the future.
June 14, 2024
Edify Energy has proposed a 200MW solar PV farm near the newly rebuilt Callide coal-fired power station in Central Queensland, Australia.
June 13, 2024
Spanish tracker manufacturer Soltec has launched a new floating tracker designed for inland water bodies such as reservoirs and ponds.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
July 2, 2024
Athens, Greece
Solar Media Events
July 9, 2024
Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia