This piece was originally published in the March 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Jack Lyons, Northeast Field Representative, NEMA
While several states in the Northeast have moved toward adopting the 2017 National Electrical Code® (NEC), 2018 will be an active year in Pennsylvania and New York City, areas that recently chose to make the three-year adoption important for their citizens.
Pennsylvania’s Act 36 will make the process more open, less cumbersome, and tied to a mandated timetable that will ensure consistency from cycle to cycle and help the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Review and Advisory Council (RAC) evaluate building and fire codes.
The difficulty has been the language in approving changes to the UCC as they relate to the family of International Code Council codes (I-Codes), which are published every three years. The RAC had to approve every change by a two-thirds vote. When it rejected the 2012 code in its entirety, the state had to retain the 2009 I-Codes and 2008 NEC. This havoc also occurred during the 2015 I-Code review. Special interest parties also opposed the movement to three-year updates.
Which brings us to today! The new statute allows the RAC to re-review the 2015 I-Codes and bring all previous versions into the process. Changes to the 2015 and 2012 I-Codes will be reviewed together so the RAC can submit a comprehensive report to the legislature. The public comment period and public hearings will be abbreviated to meet the timelines set out in Act 36. The anticipated adoption is October 2018.
The RAC will then prepare for the review of the 2018 I-Codes and keep to the three-year cycle. The delay of starting the process was built into Act 36 to allow the construction industry time to adjust for upcoming changes. The 2014 NEC is a reference document in the International Building Code® and will be adopted through this process with no amendments. The electrical section in the International Residential Code® has been under scrutiny and will be reviewed.
New York City
New York City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) announced a yearlong process in which the city’s electrical code will be revised through the official rules process. NYC is now enforcing the 2008 NEC with specific amendments unique to the metropolitan area. The city will use the 2014 NEC as the base code for the next version of its electrical code. The DOB also announced that it will attempt to stay on the three-year cycle to keep up to date with the more innovative and complicated electrical systems within the city.
The NYC DOB will create several code review technical panels for specific topics. Amendments and rules that deal with products with installation limitations or prohibitions will be re-evaluated to see if product changes have addressed the original concerns of the restrictions. The review process is anticipated to take a year to complete.
Elsewhere in the Northeast
Delaware, Maryland, and New York state will be in their three-year reviews. Connecticut is in the middle of its review with a public comment period open for the 2018 I-Code and 2017 NEC review.