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Code Alert: Idaho, 02 February 2012


State of Idaho: Electrical Code Adoption effectively killed.

What appeared to be a positive move by the Idaho Electrical Board last August has turned into a dead end. At that meeting, after taking testimony from several individuals, the Board voted to forward a recommendation to the Legislature to adopt the 2011 NEC without amendment. There was a proposal to send two recommendations, one for full adoption, and one deleting the expanded requirements for AFCI protection. The intent was to give the elected officials the option of selecting either one. The second option was rejected because the Board did not want to be seen as being unsupportive of AFCI protection.

On January 31, 2012, the Idaho House Business Committee took up the adoption of the 2011 National Electrical Code. Previously, sub-committees from both the Idaho House and Senate took testimony on the proposed adoption, and both voted to reject the new electrical code. Because the Committees had only the single proposal, it was faced with either accepting or rejecting it in its entirety. With testimony in opposition from several contractors that grossly exaggerated the financial impact of expanded AFCI protection, plus stories of nuisance tripping, the sub-committees turned down the entire code. The primary testimony was from several electrical contractors and a few homebuilders.

At the Full Business Committee hearing, the Chairman asked for the recommendation of the subcommittee and the reason for that recommendation, immediately calling for a vote. There were several individuals in attendance whom had signed up to testify on the issue, mostly in favor of adoption, but were never given the opportunity to be heard. The vote was overwhelming to reject the Boards recommendation.

While it is still possible for the full Legislature to adopt the 2011 NEC, the reality is that it is a dead issue for at least another year. The Board can take this up again later in 2012, but the opposition to arc fault protection will likely not be less. In the meantime, Idaho will be without all the additional benefits and safeguards embodied in the latest and most up-to-date electrical code available.

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