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Code Alert: Washington, 06 January 2011



Economy Blamed For Delaying Code Adoption in Washington

Washington State was scheduled to begin review of the 2011 National Electrical Code in late November 2010, with adoption slated for July 2011. The one event that was unanticipated in this plan was the extent of the economic downturn around the country and in the State. In mid-November, Governor Christine Gregoire signed Executive Order 10-06 that suspended all rule development and adoption until at least January 1, 2012. The Governor cited the economy as the reason for the Order, saying that a stable regulatory environment is an important element for an economic recovery. (http://www.governor.wa.gov/execorders/eo_10-06.pdf)

Prior to the Executive Order, the State had opened the electrical code revision process, receiving proposals from the public to be considered as amendments to the 2011 NEC or to the state’s rules. The Order came just a week prior to the scheduled meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee, which was cancelled at the last minute. There is a provision in the Executive Order to allow new rulemaking if it is of an emergency or critical nature or would help stimulate the economy or create jobs. It was determined in early January that neither the adoption of the 2011 NEC nor any of the proposed amendments could be considered under the criteria for an exception.

While the obvious impact is a delay in adoption of the newest electrical code, with its many safety enhancements, it also means that any amendments to the 2008 NEC will remain for another year; notably that arc fault circuit interruption protection will remain for bedroom circuits only. That amendment was targeted to be removed in favor of the requirements in the 2011 National Electrical Code, and the Chief Electrical Inspector, Mr. Ron Fuller, had indicated that he and the Department were in favor of the expansion of the AFCI protection to most 120 volt residential circuits. Now it appears that the expansion will not go into effect until July 2012. Additional information about the Washington electrical rule development status may be found, and tracked, at http://www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Electrical/LawRulePol/RuleDev/Default.asp

Submitted by Joe Andre: joe.andre@nema.org