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Code Alert: Texas, 28 September 2011


State of Texas Adoption of 2011 National Electrical Code

As required by Chapter 1305.101(a)(2) of the Texas Electrical Safety and Licensing Act, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation recently adopted the 2011 edition of the National Electrical Code as the "minimum standard" for all nonexempt electrical work in the State of Texas that is covered by the Texas Electrical Safety and Licensing Act effective September 1, 2011 and with all examinations for state electrical licenses being based on the 2011 edition of the National Electrical Code beginning October 1, 2011.

However, Chapter 1305.201 of the Texas Electrical Safety and Licensing Act provides municipalities the authority to make local amendments to the 2011 National Electrical Code as Subchapter E., Regulation of Electricians by Local Governments, section (c) of the Act allows that a municipality may adopt procedures for the:

(1) adoption of local amendments to the National Electrical Code; and
(2) administration and enforcement of that code.

In addition, section (d) requires that electrical work performed within the corporate limits of a municipality must be installed in accordance with all applicable local ordinances.

However, according to section (e) of Subchapter E, electrical work performed in an unincorporated area of the state must be installed in accordance with standards at least as stringent as the requirements of the state electrical code as adopted under Section 1305.101, which would be the full requirements of the 2011 edition of the National Electrical Code. Again however, there is little to no enforcement, none by the state, of construction codes outside municipalities that adopt construction codes, so even this provision is extremely weak except for use in legal filings.

As a result of the inclusion of Subchapter E., Regulation of Electricians by Local Governments in the Texas Electrical Safety and Licensing Act, Section (c), most local jurisdictions amend whichever edition of the National Electrical Code they adopt locally with most amendments weakening the minimum safety requirements of the National Electrical Code. Again, while the state agency responsibility for the current state adoption of the 2011 National Electrical Code states on their web site -

Chapter 1305.201 provides municipalities the authority to make local amendments to the 2011 NEC; however, any proposal to amend these standards should be done in accordance with NEC 90.4 which stipulates that "the authority having jurisdiction may waive specific requirements in this Code or permit alternative methods where it is assured that equivalent objectives can be achieved by establishing and maintaining effective safety."

Note that the word should is the strongest degree of command the agency can make in the above statement as the law provides no degree of stringency that a local amendment can modify a National Electrical Code requirement thus again weakening safety in many cases.

Contact: John Minick at john.minick@nema.org