Published on July 1, 2016.

Code Work

Voting members in Las Vegas approve the 2017 NEC, and consider three additional documents

BY JESSE ROMAN AND JESSE ROMAN

THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK and a bit of sizzle, but when the dust settled after more than 10 hours of debate on the 2017 edition of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®), the highlight of the NFPA Technical Meeting held in June in Las Vegas, members largely supported the changes proposed by the code making panels.

Only 12 of the 43 certified amending motions passed, and the majority of those were minor changes, according to Mark Earley, NFPA’s chief electrical engineer. “All of the five new articles remain in the code as passed by the panels and the correlating committee,” Earley said. “Overall, the membership supported what the code making panels did.”

As detailed in “Decentralization Revolution” in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal, additions to the 2017 NEC include new articles providing requirements for large-scale photovoltaic, direct-current micro-grids, energy storage systems, stand-alone energy systems, and an article on industrial process heating equipment.

A significant change to the proposed 2017 NEC was the elimination of a new rule that would have required all new one- and two-family dwellings to have external switches to cut power to the dwelling. An amendment calling for the elimination of the requirement passed 272-226. Long supported by the fire service, the requirement would have made it easier for first responders to cut power to a building without having to enter during a flood, fire, or other potentially dangerous situations. Another amendment that received a lot of discussion involved arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) receptacles. Some voting members wanted to remove a section of the code that regulates the installation of AFCI receptacles, effectively removing an obstacle that some say is hindering the device’s widespread use. After much debate, the requirement was kept in the code.

Members have 20 days after the meeting, or until July 6, to appeal the vote to the NFPA Standards Council, which will meet to consider appeals in August. The Standards Council will only consider whether the NFPA code development process was properly followed, not the technical merits of each matter, according to Bill Burke, division manager of electrical engineering at NFPA. The 2017 NEC is expected to be published and available this fall.

Three other documents were also discussed at the technical meeting: NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems; NFPA 75, Fire Protection of Information Technology Equipment; and NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code. NFPA 25 and NFPA 75 were passed with only minor revisions. For NFPA 58, however, all eight certified amending motions passed, including measures on how fire resistances are measured and how to park cargo trucks that ship liquefied petroleum gas. The amendments will now go to the technical committee for review and a vote in late July.

For more information on visit NFPA’s standards development process online.

Top Photograph: Ambience Photography