The NFPA has developed two industry reports on alternative energies that will be discussed and reviewed at the Alternative Energy Technologies and Electrical Safety Standards symposium in Atlanta on Dec. 6.
The National Fire Protection Association and its affiliated Fire Protection Research Foundation are reviewing the National Electrical Code and related standards in relation to the increase availability of alternative-energy technologies. Specifically, the NFPA has developed two industry reports on alternative energies that will be discussed and reviewed at the Alternative Energy Technologies and Electrical Safety Standards symposium in Atlanta on Dec. 6.
The installation of alternative energy technologies like photovoltaics, smart-grid technology, and electric and hybrid-electric vehicles is increasing in the U.S. In fact, industry forecasts predict that one million plug-in hybrid electric vehicle charge points will be installed in the U.S. by 2015. As a result, NEC standards must be reviewed and potentially revamped, said Kathleen Almand, executive director of the foundation.
“There’s a big change in technology and the NFPA is proactively reviewing their codes and standards to make sure they are keeping up with safety issues associated with [new technologies] and make sure existing codes don’t become a barrier to safety,” Almand said.
NFPA typically revises standards on a three-year cycle, so while no changes will be made immediately, the research products in development are being created to prepare the foundation with the data needed to make changes to the future NEC, Almand said. Research to date is addressed in the “Electrical Vehicle Charging and NFPA Electrical Safety Codes and Standards,” a report that provides a review of technologies likely to impact electrical safety, and “Smart Grid and NFPA Electrical Safety Codes and Standards,” a report about the safe integration of smart-grid technology.
“There are some provisions in the code on new technologies,” she said. “So it’s an issue of updating the provision based on new technologies, including a particular focus on the communication aspects like metering in the smart grid and the back-and-forth transmission of electricity.”
Fire chiefs should look for materials available today, in addition to the reports, to address emerging alternative technologies and emergency response, Almand said.
“Things are changing rapidly, so rapidly, that we felt the need to encourage the foundation to do this proactively,” she said. “Similarly, the fire service needs to be proactive in finding good information to address the emergency situations that may arise with them as well.”