Code Corner-March 2017

Here it is – a N.E.C. code change year and it seems that our trade is becoming more complicated as the years progress.  Can you imagine that there were 4,100 public comments to change or amend the 2014 NEC?

Nineteen code-making panels reviewed these proposals and then looked at 1,513 public comments before sending their report to the correlating committee.  The correlating committee reviewed, changed, and organized recommendations and sent the 2017 NEC document to the technical meeting of N.F.P.A., which approved and issued the new code as an American National Standard in August of 2016.

Various National Committees and organizations promulgated the information to the electrical industry in late September 2016.  Code change magazines, courses, and illustrations are out in full force and most are covering 559 major changes, as well as five new articles.

  1. Article 425 – Fixed Resistance and Electrode Industrial Process Heating Equipment
  2. Article 691 – Large-Scale Photovoltaic (PV) Electric Power Production Facility
  3. Article 706 – Energy Storage Systems
  4. Article 710 – Stand-Alone Systems
  5. Article 712 – Direct Current Microgrids (DC Microgrids)

Did you know there are 30 different applications to raise the standard voltage of electrical systems from 600 to 1,000 volts?  This has occurred because it is needed for new products, innovative ideas, and new systems (D.C. systems are coming back into vogue).

New Rules:

  • Changes about accessibility and location of equipment and worker’s workspace safety have been changed (keys and special tools – read this section carefully).
  • Guidelines for the establishment of credentials and certification of persons, firms, laboratories, etc. that examine and label equipment or systems have been expanded. Even standards have been set now for equipment that has been reconditioned and then put back into service.
  • Proposed standards for the torqueing values and applications for the termination of electrical conductors are now required so that manufacturer’s instructions will be met for termination reliability.
  • For the first time, the minimum number of outlets that will be required to provide power for apparatus or material used in public meeting rooms for seminars, educational information, and demonstrations will become part of the new electrical code.
  • There is a clarification of the need TO GROUP all service disconnecting means when multiple electrical supplies are used (now, even dwellings are included).
  • To coordinate with the National Safety Code, there have been new regulations for the support and clearance needed for overhead service conductors in railroads, transportation facilities, and terminals.
  • To also coordinate with the mechanical codes, the receptacle for indoor electrical service areas now will be required to be located in an accessible area and in the same room and within 25 feet of the service equipment.
  • Identification for ungrounded conductors of different wiring systems must be LABELED as to their ratings at all termination, connection, and splice points.
  • Be informed that the 15 and 20 ampere rated receptacles for GFCI protection of personnel has been expanded in commercial and industrial applications to now include receptacles rated 150 volts to ground or less to 50 amperes for single phase and 100 amperes for three-phase systems. Special trip device units rated at 20 MA instead of the regular class A 6 MA will have to be used.
  • The requirement for a separate branch circuit for electrical outlets that service electric vehicles was relocated to Article 625 – Electrical Vehicles.  However, there is still no requirement that one must be installed at dwellings and commercial establishments.  You must check with the builders to see the necessity of such an outlet – note:  there probably will be a code change for this in 2020.
  • New provisions have been added to 210.12 (C) requiring AFCI protection for all 120 volt single phase 15 and 20 ampere branch circuits supplying outlets and devises installed in guest rooms and guest suites of hotels and motels regardless of whether or not they have permanent provisions for cooking.

As you can see, these are just a few of the changes to the National Electrical Code; we’d have to print a whole book to include them all!  I would suggest that you go to a Code Change Course, see Power Point illustrations, and obtain illustrated code change books. As an example, major changes have occurred for swimming pools and fountains in similar locations (Article 680).  See illustration.

So many changes – you may want to go to a special seminar on nothing but 680 and 682!

Additionally, in photovoltaic, article 690, there are so many changes (see diagram) that you might wish to attend a special class for Article 690 that covers nothing but Article 690.

Belonging to the Electric League of Maryland will be advantageous, as we are developing courses that will help you better understand the National Electrical Code.

 

Gilbert Thompson

Electric League Board Member

Legislative Update- Spring 2017

As I reflected on some of the advantages of being a member of the Electric League of Maryland, it made me realize how committed, industrious, innovative, professional, and progressive are those who make up our trade.

As individuals, we bring special talents that have established an organization of the electrical industry that promotes public safety, protects special interests, and provides for everyone’s objectives.  Whether you represent individual electrical contractors, electrical contractor’s associations, apprentice training programs, serving utilities, manufacturers, engineers, inspectors, administrative officials, communication and security, lighting associates, legislative officials…you are given an opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors and provide a voice in your particular work category.

New products, new developments, new concepts and new and legislative changes for the industry are constantly being monitored so that critical information can be provided that will improve understanding and cooperation among all segments of our industry.

The diverse membership of our Board of Directors assures the main objective of enhancing the professional standing and increased knowledge of all our tradespeople.  We ensure a code of ethics that protects the life and property of the public.

Additionally, a wealth of information is shared with members through our News and Notes.   Consider these various educational opportunities:  code and code change courses; specialized subjects such as solar, alternative power methods, arc flash protection, energy and low voltage signaling systems, generators, swimming pools, etc. – classes are offered at reduced prices, with special discount when you are a member of the League.

Think about the positive effect the League has had on legislative action across the State – the League has helped establish the first State-wide Master’s License, the first State Electrical Board, and the first effort at continuing education.  There are proposals for establishing State-wide apprentices and State-wide journeypersons that will once again benefit all industry members as they train to become more professional in their careers.

This past legislative season the League joined in the efforts to defeat Senate Bill 1368.  The Bill would have abolished all local Electrical Boards, made all electrical work installed be under the control of a Master Electrician, and disrupted our industry.  We supported St. Mary’s County effort to begin the process to make their Electrical Administrative Board come under local control.  The Electric League drew attention to changes to the way DLLR would be funded and is making effort to ensure electrical licensing and examination fees are not increased.  Also, close attention was given to a Bill to make a State police permit mandatory statewide.  We want to make sure local permits are maintained and reasonable fees charged so the local jurisdictions will have the authority to still protect the public.

Discussions are taking place to expand and develop different concepts in the League’s educational opportunities for the future.  A new category of membership may be developed (of course, at a reasonable increase of cost) that will help reduce the cost of continuing education for Master’s and journeypersons and save valuable time.  There will be specially designed courses that will include:  code issues, business skills and requirements, and special installation techniques that will incorporate technological advances (on-line training will be counted).

What a benefit to belong to such an organization at a reasonable cost ($35 annually).  If you are not a member, you should be!

Sincerely,

Gilbert Thompson
Legislative Committee Chairperson, Electric League of Maryland

Changes to Solar Installation in Baltimore County

As a result of the Baltimore County Council action on Bill 63-15 the attached changes are being made to the solar PV installations. These changes take effect for all Solar PV installations inspected on or after October 19.

Click here for complete update from Baltimore County Chief Electrical Inspector Ed Riesner.

Ed Riesner
Chief Electrical Inspector
Baltimore County
410 887-3960
Fax 410 853-1892

Metering Manual Information

BGE Metering Manual. BGE is no longer offering the Metering Manual in print form. The manual will continue to be available in electronic form (PDF) on the BGE website. You can access the manual online at bge.com by selecting “Customer Service,” “Construction & Remodeling,” then “Metering Manual” or directly at:https://www.bge.com/MyAccount/MyService/Documents/BGE%20Metering%20Manual_%20Full%20Version.pdf

If you have received a print copy of the Metering Manual in the past, you must now access the electronic version to update your personal copy. BGE regularly updates the Metering Manual as part of an ongoing review cycle, and the website will always indicate the latest revision date. In addition, the online version of the manual includes a detailed revision history. If you would like to receive email notifications when we post revisions please visit the above website and enter your email address in the online form to subscribe to update notices.

Thank you.

BGE Meter Engineering and Standards Unit
2900 Lord Baltimore Drive
Baltimore, MD 21244

Legislative Update – Fall 2015

When writing for this issue of our News and Notes, I thought it would be a good idea to review some questions and issues discussed at the League’s recent Board of Directors Meeting.

The main question raised was, what happened to Senate Bill 616 the proposed legislation to change the electrical laws of Maryland.

Sad to say, the bill was withdrawn. Even after several meetings where concessions were made to help the proposed legislation become more agreeable to various groups of our industry, the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) decided not to support the bill.

It seems that DLLR thought a 59-page bill was too complicated for those newly appointed to the department. They felt more time was needed so they could evaluate the effects the bill could have on DLLR operations if it should pass.

The proposed legislation would have established:
* Definitions for the different classifications of electrical workers;
* A statewide journeyperson license;
* A statewide, up-to-date edition of the NEC as the state’s electrical code to be used and enforced in all jurisdictions; and
* A strengthened, continuing education program statewide, so a skilled, well-trained workforce would be installing electrical services.

Since these concepts would advance the electrical industry and provide benefits and safety for the general public, the ELM Board of Directors decided to continue its efforts to pass this legislation. Therefore, ELM will work with DLLR, legislators and members of our industry to once again present a bill for consideration next year, which will better serve all those involved.

The League has also added its voice to keep the uniform, statewide building code in effect as it is now. We are opposed to individual jurisdictions trying to amend themselves out of its authority as is the case with Washington County. We think that special conditions can be handled by local amendments. However, these special rules must always assure the life safety and fire protection of the citizens and visitors in those jurisdictions.

Discussion at the Board of Directors meeting also centered on the subject of where will the next generation of electrical workers come from when the experienced mechanics and skilled workers of today retire or leave the industry. It seems most high schools and other institutions of learning have abandoned their vocation guidance and training courses. They are no longer pointing young people toward the crafts or trades as a way to achieve a great living standard. There seems to be a lack of interest by educators and young people to start a career or vocation where hands as well as brains must be used. It seems that they only look at a trade as “just a job.”

Maybe as leaders in the electrical industry, we should write the job description for our future electrical workers. Why not challenge the young people of today to join our craft, trade, industry? It could allow them to:
* Make a great living;
* Enroll in great trade schools at reasonable costs;
* Have job security (there will always be demand for a reliable and “good” electrician);
* Have the opportunity to use their brains and ingenuity in problem solving:
* Know there will always be room to learn about something new (think about wind and solar power technologies, and hybrid energy systems);
* Have the satisfaction of seeing positive results of all their efforts; and
* Play a key, daily role in protecting the public’s safety.

Yes, electrical service is a career, a vocation to be proud to be part of, and a field that’s worth talking up. We should participate in activities that foster interest in the electrical industry.

Let me know your opinions and other ideas on these topics. They are important to the future of our industry.

Sincerely,

Gilbert Thompson
Legislative Committee Chairperson, Electric League of Maryland

ELM & Electrical Industry Legislation

Legislative Report
Submitted by Gil Thompson

Seven reasons to adopt the 2014 NEC in all Maryland jurisdictions

I would like to comment on Jeff Sargent’s (Electrical Specialist for National Fire Protection Association) article in the November/December issue of the NFPA journal.

Mr. Sargent gave seven reasons why the edition of the 2014 National Electrical Code (or any latest edition of the NEC) should become the electrical code for all jurisdictions located in our state.

The most recent National Electrical Code standards will:

  1. Improve safety for the general public: Articles and sections on installations, new products, techniques for installers and safety personnel provide the latest shock and fire protection for the public.
  2. Maintain consistency: The most recent rules and regulations of the NEC are integrated uniformly with other safety codes such as Life Safety, Fire and Energy which then can be enforced on a standard basis statewide.
  3. Reduce general liability: Law suits are reduced when the latest safety standards are followed. When the latest safety standards are not being followed, lawyers for the stakeholders want to know why some jurisdictions are not requiring systems to meet the latest electrical rules and regulation.
  4. Allow new technology and methods: New methods and technology can be used for renovations or for new construction. Some new products and methods for providing electrical services will have national recognition for approval and the latest testing. These rules are not found or mentioned in older editions of the NEC. For example, a new article of the NEC covers low-voltage, power-distribution systems for drop ceilings.
  5. Helps avoid negative cost impacts: Manufacturers can save everyone money by making products that only need to comply with the requirements of a single edition of the code. Consider the latest rules on arc flash, arc current interrupters, GFCIs, tamper-resistant receptacles, etc.
  6. Promotes economic development: Design, research and new installation practices allow manufacturers to continue to development innovative products which helps to reduce installation costs. This helps stimulate the economy and encourage building processes, thus assuring job growth and job security.
  7. Keeps professional training updated: An informed and well-trained workforce is essential for an ever-changing industry such as ours. Training personnel to the latest code standards does away with costly, sometimes double or triple standards, when earlier editions must be taught, but then the worker must be brought up to the latest standards being enforced in some jurisdictions.

It’s no doubt that the latest edition of the NEC makes for better, stronger, and more efficient electrical installations.

At the last Maryland Uniform Electrical Licensing Examination Committee (MUELEC) meeting, this very item was brought up and all electrical boards present (18) agreed that we should have a standard, statewide electrical code enforced by all inspection authorities in every jurisdiction.

There are changes to the electrical law that have been sent out and this would be one of the important amendments to our electrical law.

Also at that meeting, it was agreed that every electrical administrative board, including the State Board, will be giving the Master’s test (and hopefully, if the new law is passed, journeymen tests as well) and will be examined on the 2014 edition of the NEC. A new uniform test book was given to everyone along with a CD based on questions from the 2014 NEC. It does not matter what edition local jurisdictions are enforcing, but it will bring all who are taking examinations that will hold local or statewide licenses to be examined uniformly on the 2014 edition of the NEC.

Senator Katherine Klausmeier and Delegate Pat McDonough have been given copies of the amendments. Also, the amendments were given out at the MUELEC meeting, and hopefully we will be able to get a sponsor for the proposed changes to Title 6 – The Electrical Law for Maryland. Maybe it can be introduced during the 2015 legislative session.

If this is possible, we will inform all our members and everyone belonging to Maryland Electric Legislative Group (MELG) so that nothing will come as a surprise to our industry, and everyone will be aware of what the new law will contain.

Thanks,

Gil Thompson
Legislative Chair, Electric League of Maryland, Inc.

Legislative Report – March 2014

The Task Force Commissioned to Review Maryland’s electrical law recommends the following:

  • The state electrical board add and issue journey and apprentice level licensing to the existing law and phase out any local requirements over a five year period.
  • That there also be a five year period to phase out all so called “limited” electrical licenses at the local level; current local licenses would be allowed to remain, diminish through attribution and then be subject to “sunset” after a five year period, requiring all to become master electricians in that time frame.
  • In addition to the existing requirement for 10 hours of continuing education for masters, the task force also recommends that 10 hours of CE approved by the state Board be added for journey persons.
  • Also recommends the consolidation of all continuing education to be at the state level, the net effect of reducing the need for electricians at all levels to track new standard local CE requirements.
  • Code standardization is also recommended: a single state wide standard electrical code will be adopted by the state with some local (more stringent) amendments approved by the state electrical board where necessary.
  • All inspection agencies would then be required to use this statewide standard insuring that all new electrical installations are current or up to date.
  • Replacing one of the vacant consumer member positions with a code inspector to help facilitate the transition to a statewide code and to bring an added level of expertise of code compliance to the Board.
  • A review of reciprocal licensing and disciplinary guidelines using other occupational and professional licensing boards will be adopted to establish uniform standards and operating procedures.
  • Conversion to a special fund model for the electrical board to give a level of flexibility to establish an adequate personnel structure and manage the assets of the board.

Submitted by Gil Thompson – January 2014