Get ready wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy and transportation electrification contractors! On October 7, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the “Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015.” The objectives of the Act are: (1) to increase from 33% to 50% (by December 31, 2030), the procurement of our electricity from renewable sources; and (2) to double the energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas final end uses of retail customers through energy efficiency and conservation. These lofty goals are to be achieved by implementation of the California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Program, a program established in 2003. Notably, the Act includes a legislative finding that “a principal goal of electric and natural gas utilities’ resource planning and investment shall be… to encourage the diversity of energy sources through improvements in energy efficiency, development of renewable energy resources, such as wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy, and widespread transportation electrification.” This bill reflects California’s persistence in its efforts to turn to reliance on renewable energy. In effect, this should mean the continued growth in opportunities for contractors working in renewable energy areas.
States that require a person that engages in work requiring a contractor’s or specialty contractor’s license generally include within their licensing law an express provision making it unlawful to advertise for work requiring a contractor’s license unless the person, in fact, is property licensed. Many states’ licensing laws also require a licensed contractor to include its license number in any advertising. Starting October 1, 2015, Section 624.720(2) of the Nevada Revised Statutes requires any person not licensed pursuant to Nevada’s contractors’ licensing law, Chapter 624 of the Nevada Revised Statutes, who advertises to perform or complete construction work or a work of improvement to affirmatively state in the advertisement that he or she is not licensed pursuant to Chapter 624. Licensed contractors should also be careful not to advertise for work that exceeds the scope of their contractor’s or specialty contractor’s license.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has issued a ruling that EPA’s Clean Water Act (CWA) Vessel General Permit (VGP), which regulates the discharge of ballast water from ships, was promulgated in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and must be remanded to the agency. The case is National Resources Defense Council, et al. v. EPA, which was decided on October 5, 2015.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia has ruled on the government’s motions to dismiss the plaintiffs’ constitutional arguments in a new Clean Water Act (CWA) administrative compliance order matter. The plaintiffs, West Virginia property developers, were alleged to have violated the CWA by illegally discharging dredge and fill material into Neal Run, a tributary stream that flows into the “waters of the United States”. EPA issued a CWA Compliance Order under Section 309 of the CWA, requiring the plaintiffs to restore the property to “pre-disturbance grade and conditions”. The plaintiffs, who purchased the property out of the bankruptcy estate of the previous owner, then filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the order under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) or an injunction halting its enforcement. They alleged that the order violated both their procedural and substantive due process rights. The case is Foster, et al., v. EPA, et al.
National Fire Prevention Week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Over the course of two days, the fire reportedly killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. On June 1, the National Fire Protection Association announced “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep: Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm” as the theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign. With this theme, its goal is to better educate the public about NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code®, which requires a smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home (referred to as the “‘sleepy’ smoke alarm requirement”). On October 2, President Oba proclaimed October 4 through October 10, 2015, as Fire Prevention Week.
Additional Sources: National Fire Protection Association, About Fire Prevention Week
On September 30, 2015, the U.S. District Court for Wyoming granted requests for a preliminary nationwide injunction against the implementation of the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau Of Land Management (BLM) rules that apply to hydraulic fracturing on Federal and Indian lands. The lead case is State of Wyoming v. U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) adopted an emergency rule, WAC 51-54A-3800, effective July 1, 2015, to specify requirements amending the International Fire Code dealing with marijuana processing and extraction facilities stemming from these facilities’ use of flammable and combustible liquids for the liquid extraction process. These rules, along with other rulemaking proposals are open for public comment on the SBCC rulemaking page of their website, and comments are due by close of business on October 23, 2015.
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has identified common corrections required by electrical inspectors. It reported that out of the 185,878 inspections made for electrical contractors last year 18% required corrections and re-inspections and, in its own words, “remarkably” 20% of all electrical contractors were responsible for 80% of the work requiring correction and re-inspection. L&I also cautioned that Section 1928.361 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 19.28.361) makes the installer – contractor and electrician – personally responsible and liable for any injury or damage to a person or property for any defect in the electrical installation.
On September 29, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit issued a unanimous ruling affirming the district court’s rejection of a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in which the Sierra Club argued that the federal government was obliged to conduct a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis of the entirety of an 580 mile oil pipeline constructed by Enbridge Pipelines (FSP), LLC. The case is Sierra Club v. U.S Army Corps of Engineers, et al.
As a result of California Senate Bill (SB) 854, all contractors have been required since April 1, 2015, to register with the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) to be awarded a public works contract, even if the project did not go out to bid. A mandatory renewal deadline is approaching for licensees who work on public works projects. Contractors whose registration with the DIR expired June 30, 2015, and have ongoing public works projects or plan to bid on new ones, must pay a$300 renewal fee before October 1, 2015, or face an additional $2,000 late penalty after that date. If you are not sure whether your public works registration with DIR is still active, you can check the active contractor registration search tool to locate and confirm your registration. And, the CSLB noted that if you were registered last year and have neither bid on nor worked on any public works projects on or after July 1, 2015, you can renew for this fiscal year without incurring a penalty.
Additional Source: DIR, Public Works Contractor (PWC) Registration; CSLB Urges Public Works Contractors to Renew Dept. of Industrial Relations Registration before October 1 or Pay Hefty; DIR Frequently Asked Questions