Litigation Challenging CSLB’s July 27, 2021 Decision to Restrict C-46 Licenses

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By Thomas A. T. Ferrari

On September 17, 2021, in California Solar Energy Industries Association vs. Contractors State License Board, et al., Case No. CGC-21-594911 (Super. Ct., County of San Francisco), petitioner California Solar Energy Industries Association, filed a Verified Petition for Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in superior court against the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and David Fogt, in his official capacity as Registrar of Contractors, alleging that defendants engaged in underground rulemaking in violation of California’s Administrative Procedure Act. Petitioner also alleges that CSLB violated the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act by failing to properly include a specific agenda or a brief description of the items to be discussed at its July 27, 2021 meeting. Petitioner Association further claims that the defendants’ actions undermine the state’s efforts to dramatically increase battery storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to provide Californians greater electrical reliability—at a time when the Governor has declared a state of emergency due to energy shortages.

On July 27, 2021, the Board approved a decision to restrict C-46 Solar classifications with a 90-day grace period to educate licensees [Industry Bulletin CSLB 21-14; 21-15]. This decision precludes the C-46 license classification from installing battery energy storage systems (BESS) and requires a certified electrician with a C-10 license to install solar BESS. After the restriction was approved, the trade association, California Solar Energy Industries Association, initiated litigation.

On September 28, 2021, the petitioner filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. On September 29, 2021, CSLB held a special meeting to discuss this litigation in closed session. On October 1, 2021, to resolve the pending preliminary injunction motion, the Board stipulated to not enforce or implement its July 27th decision until the above-referenced case and any appeals are resolved. On October 4, 2021, the Attorney General filed a written stipulation with the court agreeing to a voluntary stay of enforcement of CSLB’s July 27th decision.

On October 21, 2021, Respondents filed their answer to the complaint. At the time of this writing, no further action has been taken.

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