The Oregon Solar Installation Specialty Code (OSISC) was highlighted as a best practice in the recent Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) report, Sharing Success - Emerging Approaches to Efficient Rooftop Solar Permitting. The report identifies innovative strategies being implemented across the United States that reduce the cost of permitting and installing solar PV systems.
The OSISC became effective October 1, 2010. Oregon was able to adopt a solar code that applies uniformly across the state because of the unique ‘mini-maxi’ provision in state statute (ORS 455.040) which preempts local jurisdictions from adopting different building code requirements than those adopted by the Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD).
The report notes that Oregon’s Solar code goes beyond the typical state code structure by prescribing requirements about the manner in which local jurisdictions process permits and the fees they can charge for inspecting solar installations. Even though the OSISC does not cover the electrical provisions that govern solar installations (those are covered in the Oregon Electrical Specialty Code (OESC)), the report also states that Oregon’s solar code "has been able to substantially standardize the technical requirements that apply to building permits for solar projects."
In addition to structural requirements and permitting guidelines, the OSISC also includes provisions on firefighter access to the roof. An Oregonian article on a recent Portland area house fire points out that solar "panels were placed in accordance with a new Oregon building code that went into effect last year, requiring installers to leave space on the sides of panels and on the top of the roof to give firefighters room to put their ladders and cut out sections as needed to let heat escape."
The Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) reports in their May 2012 newsletter that its solar program had its strongest ever first quarter, with applications for 440 systems representing 3.4 megawatts of power generation.