Best Laid Plans and COVID-19

Best Laid Plans and COVID-19

Back when the 2020 editorial calendar was drafted in August 2019, our plan for this issue was to focus on the technical aspects of panelboards, switchboards, and switchgear. No one could foresee the turn of events that took place in March as nationwide lockdowns directed all but essential workers to stay at home for an extended period. The construction industry quickly adapted to the new reality of installing and inspecting safe electrical installations while maintaining safe workspaces for employees and enforcing social distancing. Here at IAEI, we also began working remotely and adjusting our focus to the needs of the inspectors and other electrical professionals who keep the lights on.

COVID-19 also prompted organizations and municipalities to investigate how they could continue to permit and inspect safely and responsibly. IAEI partnered with the Sustainable Energy Action Committee (SEAC), the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), and the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA) — along with several authorities having jurisdiction — to co-host a webinar in April to share how some jurisdictions are using safe practices by limiting in-person inspections, enacting no-touch permitting, and using remote inspections.

In this issue, the hosts graciously allowed us to present the information from the seminar in the article, “Continuing Safe Permitting and Inspection Practices During COVID-19.” Tips include how to handle remote permit processing and how to accept online permit fees. The authors also show which software is used by local jurisdictions throughout the country. In addition, local jurisdictions also share case studies on how they are handling remote inspections using video calling software such as Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangouts, Google Duo, and Microsoft Teams.

Pete Jackson, with the City of Bakersfield, California, also provides a look inside one jurisdiction’s response to the COVID-19 crisis by expanding a health care facility to support the local community while adhering to social distancing and best practices as mandated by the state. NFPA’s Derek Vigstol also discusses how the NEC applies to these health care facilities. The State of Arkansas’s Tracy Dolan also provides a good understanding of the different hats that these inspectors wear, from permitting to plan review to final inspection.

For those looking forward to the articles covering panelboards and such, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Garth Stevens outlines the basics of switchboards, switchgear, and panelboards, and Joseph Wages, Jr., discusses safe workspace requirements. Jim Phillips discusses DC arc flash calculations, and David G. Humphrey gives an inspector’s perspective on locating the panelboard. We have several other awesome articles that are designed to help everyone from the beginning apprentice to the seasoned inspector keep our homes and businesses safe and green tagged.

As always, keep safe and happy reading!

Laura Hildreth
Laura L. Hildreth is the managing editor for IAEI Magazine and has worked in editorial and technical publications within the electrical industry for eighteen years, the technology industry for over twenty years, and the news industry for even longer. Her passion is encouraging communication and learning no matter what the tool. Connect with her on LinkedIn at