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COVID-19 Shelter in Place Orders: What Solar Companies Need to Know

Across the country, states have begun issuing “Shelter in Place” or “Stay at Home” orders, directing residents to stay in their homes to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health.  Although each of these orders is different, they generally allow for residents and businesses to continue essential activities and business operations. The solar industry ensures critical electric generation infrastructure to U.S. utilities, businesses and homes nationwide, and installations can be done safely in accordance with federal and state guidance. Nonetheless, it is imperative that the solar industry do its part to protect public health and follow the intent and spirit of these orders.

Below you will find links to the orders that have been issued to date, and general guidelines solar companies can follow.  We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available. Help SEIA continue to improve this guidance by responding to our survey, and emailing CISA.CAT@cisa.dhs.gov and covid-19@seia.org with any examples of how and why solar workers provide critical infrastructure.

Note: the information provided here is not legal advice, and companies should review shelter in place and similar orders where they operate with their legal teams.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does SEIA recommend with respect to state “Shelter in Place” or “Stay at Home” orders?  Is solar installation/construction considered an essential activity?
  • Each state order is different. Solar companies doing business in a state where a “Shelter in Place” or similar order has been issued should have legal counsel immediately review the order.
  • Companies should pay close attention to “essential services,” “essential workers,” and “essential operations” described in the order to determine whether your business activities qualify. Many states are issuing guidance on this determination.
  • Companies should keep in mind the spirit and intent of these orders, which is to limit non-essential movement of persons outside their homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health.
  • Companies and their legal counsel should review the federal guidance from the Department of Homeland Security for additional information on what may be considered “essential” services and business activities. To the extent that federal and state or local guidance differ, companies should follow the more restrictive rule.
  • To the extent that companies continue work, employers should follow the CDC’s guidance, social distancing recommendations and workplace safety protocols. SEIA has developed a resource guide for installers, with links to additional guidance from government entities and other third parties. Employers have a general duty to protect employees from the recognized hazard of COVID-19 infection,.
Should my company engage in door-to-door sales in states that have limited public gatherings?
  • SEIA recommends that companies avoid door-to-door sales, particularly in states that have limited public gatherings or have asked residents to stay at home. Companies also need to consider any state or local ordinances restricting home solicitations. In addition, consumers likely wish to minimize in-person interactions with others. Bring sales online or by telephone. Tell us how doing so affects your business.
  • We have developed guidance regarding the residential solar permitting process, in light of social distancing measures.
What is SEIA doing to ensure that solar installation, construction, and maintenance is included in definitions of "essential services," or qualify as an exception, i.e., as a low risk/low density economic activity that can continue with social distancing protocols?
  • SEIA is deeply engaged in policy discussions at the federal level and in a dozen states across the nation. Our team is working with policymakers in each of our priority states to secure the best outcome possible for member companies.
  • We are developing talking points (see below) and a state-by-state advocacy plan to ensure that solar companies can continue doing business to the maximum extent feasible and consistent with protecting public health, including the health of our workers.
  • You can help. Fill out SEIA’s COVID-19 Survey to share information, and practice social distancing and best practice protocols in your business activities.
How can we best make our case to policymakers that solar installation and construction should be allowed to continue?
  • The U.S. Solar and storage industries, including manufacturers, suppliers, developers, builders and installers is a multi-billion dollar industry, employing roughly 250,000 workers, that provides critical electric generation infrastructure to U.S. utilities, businesses and homes nationwide.
  • The country cannot stop constructing new electric generation capacity, of which solar is now the largest resource. 40% of new electric generation in 2019 came from solar generation. According to EIA, 76% of planned electricity generation additions will come from wind and solar. Solar workers build and maintain critical infrastructure that helps keep the lights on.
  • Solar sales, installation and construction can be performed safely, pursuant to OSHA and CDC Guidance. Solar installers, EPCs, O&M and construction companies can and have implemented social distancing protocols and best practices on the job, including rooftop installations.
  • Distributed solar generation provides electric service to the dwellings and businesses to which it is interconnected, and with a storage component can provide resilience, prevent blackouts and supply electricity to mission critical infrastructure during emergency situations. Distributed solar can also bring an added benefit of reducing increases to peak demand, which becomes especially important with more people staying at home.
  • Similarly, municipalities and building departments are finding ways to continue their work remotely or with non-contact aides and tools. SEIA is monitoring how permitting and inspections are continuing or establishing other means to keep solar and construction activities continuing.
How are utilities around the country treating interconnection and other work - essential or non-essential?
  • Electric utility workers are classified as essential under the DHS Guidance.
  • SEIA will be working with utilities and regulators to keep interconnection processes moving.
  • At least one major utility has stated that it “anticipates social distancing policies and response to the virus will also impact distributed solar interconnection requests eventually."
Federal Guidance

An order, originally posted on March 19, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides a list of critical infrastructure workers. The list includes “maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, [and] working construction.” Revised guidance posted on March 24 provides new language in the definition of critical electricity industry workers, including “development” and “expansion” of the generation of electric power. Energy workers specified include those maintaining existing generating facilities. The list “is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered to be, a federal directive or standard in and of itself.”

Read the Order

State Closure Orders

Statewide business closure orders are provided below. A number of states have taken lesser actions including limiting social gatherings, closing bars and restaurants, etc. Those lesser actions are not catalogued here.

Arizona

On March 23, Governor Ducey issued two Orders. One order implements an Enhanced Surveillance Advisory that will accelerate tracking of COVID-19 cases. Another order clarifies businesses and operations deemed “essential” by the state and providing certainty to business owners, employees and families.

California

March 19 Order explicitly adopts the DHS Guidance, requiring “all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, critical government services, schools, childcare, and construction, including housing construction.”  A March 20 supplement defines critical infrastructure workers for the purposes of California.

What activities may solar companies engage in under the Governor Newsom’s March 19 statewide Shelter in Place Order?

  • Remote sales, O&M, and solar installation and construction appear to be allowed at this time.
  • Companies should consult the CDC’s Interim Guidance and follow social distancing protocols and recommended best practices, and ensure that their workers and customers are not put at risk.
  • Companies should avoid door to door sales at this time.
  • Companies should follow both state and local orders. The state has clarified that the statewide order supersedes county/local orders, though locals are free to put more strict orders in place.

Note: the information provided here is not legal advice, and companies should review shelter in place and similar orders where they operate with their legal teams.

Colorado

Governor Polis announced a statewide stay-at-home order from March 26 at 6 am until April 11 2020. This order means Coloradans should not leave their homes except for critical activities that are defined in the updated public health order. The order also defines critical businesses that can continue operating. Non-critical businesses are ordered to close temporarily, except as necessary to engage in minimum basic operations needed to protect assets and maintain personnel functions.

Connecticut

March 20 Order requires reducing workers at on-site work sites by 100 percent effective on Monday, March 23 at 8 PM, except for those businesses/non-profits designated as “essential.” The Department of Economic and Community Development will publish further guidance defining essential businesses here.

Delaware

March 22 The Governor issued the fourth and fifth modifications to his emergency declaration, ordering Delawareans to stay at home whenever possible and closing all non-essential businesses. The orders go into effect at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. They will remain in effect until May 15 or until the public health threat is eliminated. Here is a list of essential and non-essential businesses, as defined by Sunday’s order. Businesses remaining open need to follow all Centers for Disease Control guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

District of Columbia

March 22 Order requires temporary closure of the on-site operation of all non-essential businesses and prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people. A list of essential businesses are defined in the Order, including “businesses that maintain, ensure, or restore, or are otherwise involved in the electricity industry” and “essential infrastructure.” The Order goes into effect on March 25, 2020, at 10 pm, through April 24, 2020.

Hawaii

On March 23 the Governor issued a third supplementary proclamation, ordering all persons within the State of Hawaiʻi to stay at home or in their place of residence starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Mar. 25 through Apr. 30. All businesses or operations not identified as federal critical infrastructure sectors, designated by the Director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA), or listed within the order, must cease.

Idaho

On March 25 The Governor issued a statewide 21 day stay-home order for the state. This is directed to all businesses and governmental agencies to cease nonessential operations at physical locations, including prohibiting all non-essential gatherings of any number of individuals. This excludes healthcare, public safety and other essential workers as defined in the order.

Illinois

March 20 Order requires all individuals living in Illinois to stay at home or at their place of residence, except as specified, and to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet when outside their residences. All businesses except Essential Businesses and Operations and businesses providing Essential Infrastructure are required to cease all activities within the State except Minimum Basic Operations. A list of essential business is included in the order.

What activities may solar companies engage in under Governor Pritzker's March 20 Order?

Note: the information provided here is not legal advice, and companies should review shelter in place and similar orders where they operate with their legal teams.

Indiana

March 23 Order mandating residents to stay at home will be effective at 11:59pm on March 24. All non-essential businesses and operations are required to cease all activities except for Minimum Basic Operation which is defined in the order. Essential Business and Operations are listed on pages 5-8. Any gathering of more than 10 people is prohibited.

Kentucky

March 22 Order requires all in-person retail businesses that are not life sustaining to close March 23 at 8pm. A full list of categories of life-sustaining, in-person retail businesses is attached to that order.

Louisiana

March 22 Governor issued a statewide Stay at Home order that goes into effect at 5 pm on March 23. Any business not covered by the guidance from the CISA discussed in Section 3 of the order and not ordered to temporarily close must reduce operations to continue with minimum contact with members of the public and essential employees, while requiring proper social distancing, adhering to the 10-person limitation on gathering size.

Maine

March 24 Order goes into effect on March 25 at 12 am and mandates all non-essential businesses and operations to close public facing locations. This includes sites that require more than ten workers to convene in a space where physical distancing is not possible. Non-essential businesses and operations may continue activities that do not involve in-person contact and should facilitate the maximum number of employees working remotely. Businesses who feel they should be considered essential under the mandate can submit for consideration by visiting the Essential Service Request site.

Maryland

March 23 Governor Hogan ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses by 5pm on March 23. This is the interpretive guidance for the order which lists sectors of the economy that can remain open based on the DHS March 19 Order.

Massachusetts

March 23 Order requires all businesses not providing Essential Services to close their physical locations through April 7, and limits public gatherings to 10 people or less. Essential Services are defined in Exhibit A, which may be modified as new information develops, and which must be conducted following social distancing protocols. The list of Essential Services published on March 23 appears to largely mirror the March 19 DHS Guidance. Massachusetts published FAQs re Essential Services on March 24, which address Energy and Construction.

Michigan

March 23 Executive Order 2020-21 directs residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible, and broadly prohibits in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life. Businesses that employ critical infrastructure workers may continue in person operations using social distancing protocols, and businesses may conduct minimum basic operations, and must designate the workers who will do so. Critical infrastructure workers are for the most part those workers described by the DHS March 19 Order.

Minnesota

March 26 The Governor issued an executive order that asks Minnesotans to stay home except for essential needs and services starting 11:59 pm on March 27 until April 10. People who work in “critical sectors” are defined in the order and exempt from mandate. Other workplaces are asked to shift to a telework and work from home model.

Montana

The Governor issued an executive order requiring Montanans to stay home and temporarily closes all nonessential businesses and operations, which goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 28. A list of essential businesses and operations and “Social Distancing Requirements for Essential Businesses and Operations” are listed within the order.

Nevada

March 20 Order directs all non-essential businesses to close through April 16. The construction, mining, manufacturing, and infrastructure sector labor force may continue operations, but shall maintain strict social distancing practices to facilitate a minimum of six feet of separation between workers, and to adopt policies and practices that ensure minimum contact between the workforce and the general public. Businesses not delineated in the Order or in regulations promulgated under it may continue operations, not to include retail sales, if they are able to implement social distancing safeguards for the protection of their employees.

New Hampshire

Emergency Order #17 orders the closure of in-person operations of nonessential businesses. The State of New Hampshire has compiled a list of industry sectors that provide essential services, such as “workers who maintain, ensure, or restore the reliable generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power,” which are permitted to continue to operate with necessary staff to complete critical and essential functions. If the function of your business is not listed, but you believe that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as an essential business by contacting essential@nheconomy.com with basic contact information and a brief justification.

New Jersey

Executive Order 107  mandates New Jersey residents to stay at home except when obtaining essential services. The Order also closes all non-essential retail businesses, but allows certain workers, including construction workers and utility workers, to report to their jobs, provided that business must make best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue, and practice social distancing.

The BPU March 19 Order provides that all public utilities and regulated entities must cease any home or business visits unless doing so would pose immediate risk to health and safety of residents, and that all door-to-door sales activity by Third Party Suppliers or other sales-persons selling energy or energy related products (for example: residential solar, community solar, or energy efficiency offerings) be suspended immediately.

New Mexico

On March 23, Governor Lujan-Grisham issued an Order closes all non-essential businesses and requires 100 percent of the state's non-essential workforce to work from home. Solar is not specifically mentioned in the order, but “commercial and residential facility construction and maintenance” is considered essential.

New York

Executive Orders 202.6, 202.7  and 202.8 require reducing workers at on-site work sites by 100 percent effective on Sunday, March 22 at 8 PM, except for those businesses/non-profits designated as “essential.” Guidance from the State Economic Development agency lists out “essential” businesses.

North Carolina

March 23 Executive Order 120 restricts the operation of several nonessential businesses and limits gatherings to 50 people or less.

Ohio

March 22 Order directs residents to stay in their homes, requires all businesses and operations in the State, except Essential Businesses and Operations to cease all activities within the State except Minimum Basic Operations.  Essential businesses must follow social distancing protocols. Essential businesses and operations include those in the DHS March 19 Order and certain others, including those providing Essential Infrastructure and Critical Trades.

Oregon

On March 23, an Executive Order was released. The order calls for residents to stay home, closes certain businesses and orders tele-work and work-at-home by employees. Construction and manufacturing, for example, may continue so long as they “ensure that their employees are maintaining social distancing measures."

Pennsylvania

 March 19 Order prohibits the “Operation of Businesses that are not Life Sustaining.”  An updated list of life-sustaining businesses that are allowed to remain open was provided on March 24th. Businesses that are ordered closed but believe they could help mitigate this crisis by providing a life-sustaining service may apply for a waiver to re-open.

South Carolina

March 23 executive order  prohibits public gatherings of three or more people. Normal business activity is exempt.

Vermont

March 25 All businesses and not-for-profit entities not expressly exempted in the order must suspend all in-person business operations. Operations that can be conducted online or by phone, or sales that can be facilitated with curbside pickup or delivery can continue.

Virginia

On March 23 an Executive Order, effective at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 until 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 23, 2020, orders the closure of certain non-essential businesses and bans all gatherings of more than 10 people. Professional businesses not listed in the order must utilize telework as much as possible and where telework is not feasible, such businesses must adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing procedures, and apply relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities, including CDCOSHA, and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

Washington

March 23 Order requires everyone to stay at home unless they need to pursue an essential activity. All gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes are also banned. The governor has designated essential critical infrastructure workers exempt, including “Workers needed for hydroelectric, biofuels, biogas, geothermal energy, wind, biomass, solar and coal energy generation. All businesses except essential business will need to be closed within 48 hours. On March 25th the Governor released additional guidance for construction, which suggests commercial and residential construction is not considered to be an essential activity. The guidance memo can be found here.

West Virginia

On March 23 an Executive Order was released, effective March 24, 2020, at 8:00 p.m, directing all West Virginians to stay at home and limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs, ​except Essential Businesses and Operations. Essential businesses and operations include those in the DHS March 19 Order and certain others, including “Essential Infrastructure” and “Critical Trades."

Wisconsin

On March 23, an Executive Order was released, effective at 8 am on Weds., March 25, 2020 and in effect until 8 am Fri., April 24, 2020, that directs Wisconsin residents to stay at home and non-essential businesses to cease. The order contains detailed information regarding the exemptions provided to certain businesses. If a business is unsure about whether or not they are exempted from this order, please contact the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation here.

Aware of Additional Statewide Closure Orders?
Send Them to Us

Local Closure Orders

This list contains local closures in SEIA's priority states, and is not intended to be exhaustive

California
  • Governor Newsom has issued a statewide Shelter-in-Place order.
  • San Francisco,  Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Cruz counties issued Shelter in Place Orders for individuals to remain home and for businesses to close, except for Essential Businesses and except for carrying out Minimum Basic Operations.  Essential Businesses must comply with Social Distancing Requirements, including by maintaining six-foot social distancing for both employees and members of the public.  Minimum Basic Operations includes maintenance work necessary to maintain the value of a business’s inventory “or for related functions."
  • Los Angeles – March 19 Safer-at-Home Order requires residents to isolate themselves in their residences and businesses to cease operations, except as specified, including to work on essential infrastructure.
  • Many other California counties such as Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado issued similar Shelter-in-Place Orders preceding the Governor’s statewide order on March 21.
Florida

City of Gainesville and all of Alachua County issued a Stay at Home Order on March 23rd. The order exempts ongoing construction, electrical production and distribution services, and businesses employing 5 or less persons.

Massachusetts

Boston & Cambridge – bans on construction until further notice. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is asking solar firms to immediately cease door-to-door campaigns and has asked SEIA to inform its member companies.

North Carolina

City of Charlotte and all of Mecklenburg County issued a Shelter in Place Order on March 24th. The order exempts construction, electrical power generation, distribution, and production of raw materials.

Texas

Tarrant County issued a declaration with limitations on gatherings and social business restrictions. The Declaration does not apply to businesses providing Essential Services.

State Closures Page Additional Resources