NEC-2011, Call for Proposals

The NEC-2008 has been complete for only a few short months, six since the adoption by NFPA, and four since the very first printing. The CD version just came out and the handbook is due sometime in late January or early February. As this is being written, there is a lot of activity in many areas of the United States with the adoption process by jurisdictions. Adoption in some areas will not be completed for one or more years.

Wow, now that we have the new Code out, can we take a rest? Unfortunately, No!

For those that have seen the IAEI Analysis or have reviewed the overall changes to the NEC, what do you think? Did everything get fixed, or is there still more to be done? I believe most of us will agree there is more to be done.

The IAEI has two members on each of the code-making panels and the Technical Correlating Committee. Even though we have this representation, we did not fully participate to the extent we could have and should have in the 2008 code-making process. One big benefit for all IAEI members is being able to be involved in the making of good code. What we did not do for the NEC-2008 cycle was to make many proposals and comments to clarify and fix the things that the membership, individuals and groups, see needing to be revised. One only needs to attend a local chapter or division meeting and listen for a short time to a Code discussion to know there are many areas in the NEC that can be improved to be clearer, more enforceable and to be “good Code.”

So why are we talking now about proposals? We have three years to the next one, right? The NEC is on a three-year schedule and so just as one NEC comes out, the process of change starts up right away. The schedule set by NFPA for NEC-2011 requires that all proposals must be at NFPA by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on November 7, 2008. That is just a few months away and that time will go by very quickly. It has been reported that several hundred proposals have already been submitted in this new cycle.

So again, why bring up proposals now to the IAEI membership and electrical industry in general? The answer is that now is the time to start the process on the local level so that proposals that are desired to have IAEI endorsement and to be submitted as IAEI proposals can be processed.

Under the NFPA rules, anyone can submit a proposal under his or her own name. The IAEI encourages that and does not restrict in any way anyone wishing to make such submissions.

If the individual also wishes to have IAEI endorsement, in addition to submitting the proposal himself or herself, then that person should work through the local chapter or division. The IAEI encourages the chapters and divisions to work cooperatively to develop good code proposals. These groups can discuss and refine the proposed language and be sure the technical substantiation is complete and solidly supports what is being proposed. Proposals may start with a voice of one, but they get stronger and gain power with support and input of the many. IAEI chapters and divisions can submit proposals as a group, but it must be under a person’s name (generally the chapter or division secretary) and not indicate that it is an IAEI organizational proposal.

You ask again, why worry about this now, there is lots of time? Many chapters and divisions have their annual business meeting in the spring and this is when the membership of the chapter or division needs to act on any proposals to move forward from the local organization. So now is when this beginning work needs to be done so proposals can be processed at these spring meetings. To help with this, the International Education Committee has developed a short PowerPoint training program for use by the chapters and divisions on Code proposal writing. This has been presented at several recent chapter or division meetings and has been well received. Check the IAEI website atwww.iaei.orgto download a copy for use. [Go to home page, check left-hand column under Get the Latest Information.]

The next step is at the section level. Based on policies set by each section, chapters and divisions, and in some cases individuals, can submit their proposals to the section for consideration. The Section Code and Standards Committee will complete a review and then make a recommendation to the membership at the section meetings in September and October of this year. The section needs to receive these proposals in time to meet two deadlines. One deadline is so the Section Codes and Standards Committee has the opportunity to review, meet, discuss, and provide a recommendation to the membership to vote on. Most of the sections have set dates in the July timeframe, so check with your section secretary to find out what the deadline is. The second deadline is for the IAEI International Codes and Standards Committee. This committee needs all the proposals that might become IAEI-endorsed proposals to be at the IAEI International Office on or before September 1, 2008. This date is set so the IO committee can review what is coming and then take final action once all the sections have completed their actions.

By the way, it is not the Codes and Standards Committee’s responsibility to write or revise proposals, its responsibility is to review what was submitted and make recommendations, based on the merit of the submission, to accept to go forward or to reject. It is also strongly encouraged that proposals not be written from the floor. It takes time, research and reflection to write good proposals and code writing from the floor rarely results in a good proposal. Again, the section, as a body, can make a submission, but it must be under a person’s name (again typically the secretary) and it cannot indicate it is an IAEI proposal.

The international president, in accordance with the International Bylaws, has appointed the members to the International Codes and Standards Committee. This committee will receive the proposals from the sections only. Proposals cannot be submitted by individuals to the International level. If the section acts favorably to forward proposals submitted to them for consideration as an IAEI organizational submission, then the committee will review the proposal in its entirety and if found acceptable will have it submitted by the executive director/CEO as an IAEI proposal.

Why does having it as an IAEI proposal matter? As stated before, the IAEI has two representatives on each panel and they will be instructed and are bound to be advocates for IAEI proposals as submitted by the international executive director/CEO. Having a voice at the panel ensures that the proposal gets considered and discussed fully by the panel.

At last year’s section meetings, each section board of directors and each section general membership was challenged to get involved in the 2011 Code cycle. The challenge that was issued from the international level was for each chapter and division to work at the local level and submit at least 10 proposals. Are you up for that challenge? Have you started yet? My chapter has, but still has much work to do. Now is the time to get involved with your local chapter or division. Being involved with the code change process is one of your membership benefits and getting involved now can make your job easier and more productive in the future.

Important Dates

July 2008
Most section proposals due.
Verify with your section what its deadline is.

September 1, 2008 5 p.m. CST
Proposals to be IAEI-endorsed due at International Office

November 7, 2008 5 p.m. EST
All proposals due at NFPA

Chuck Mello
Chuck Mello is the President of cdcmello Consulting LLC, a consulting firm specializing in electrical training and project work. He spent 6 years active duty in the US Navy as a commissioned officer. He worked for Electro-Test, Inc (eti) for over 26 years doing field engineering, conformity assessment work, and management positions. In 2004 Chuck began work for Underwriters Laboratories as the Global Field Evaluation Program Manager, where he oversaw the overall field evaluation business. He was a member of NEC Code Panel 5, was a key contributor to NFPA 790 and 791 relating to competency and procedures for field evaluations. He also holds an active Master Electrician license from the state of Colorado and has held Master Electrician and Electrical Contractor licenses in several other states. He is a member of IAEI and served as the IAEI International President in 2011. He is a nationally recognized speaker on the NEC, grounding and bonding, high voltage power systems, electrical safety, and field evaluations. Chuck Mello holds a BS degree in Electrical Power Technology with a co-major in Naval Science from Oregon State University. Chuck can be contacted at