Rumors of a verbal dispute involving the Los Angeles County Inspector and First Solar employees at the 230-megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One (AVSR1) photovoltaic power plant led GTM to the discovery that 3.7 million cadmium telluride thin-film panels that First Solar was preparing to install at the Exelon facility are not Underwriters Laboratory-approved.
If the panels require replacement, the financial consequences for First Solar could be troubling to the company.
Both the County of Los Angeles and First Solar were contacted for this report. Neither offered many details.
The inspector appears to have been doing a routine site visit, in service to the County’s conditional use permit (CUP) for the solar power plant, when he discovered there was no UL approval for the panels’ electrical connections.
State of California building and safety codes require UL approval of electrical connectors. That approval is apparently not required in other states where First Solar has done installations, and it is also a standard to which First Solar has not been held at installations it has done elsewhere in California.
Why the company has been held to this standard at this site at this time is not clear.
This is the most recent in a long series of challenges faced by First Solar at the AVSR1 project.