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Code Alert: Washington, 25 October 2011

Washington State Extends Moratorium on New Rule Development

Without prior notice, or opportunity for public comment or input, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire issued Executive Order 11-03 on October 13, 2011, extending the moratorium on non-essential rulemaking for another year. The original order, 09-10, established that State agencies would be allowed to continue with certain rule development based on criteria established by the Office of Financial Management.

The effect of this original order to the electrical industry was to halt the adoption process of the 2011 National Electrical Code in mid-stream. Washingtons Electrical Division rescheduled the process for the Spring of 2012, starting over again from scratch by soliciting new applications for the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and planning to open a period for acceptance of proposals. While there is no information posted on the Departments web page at this time, it is anticipated that the adoption activity will be postponed through 2013. With a development period taking approximately 9 months, the indication is that Washington will skip the 2011 Edition entirely, and will move directly to the 2014 National Electrical Code. This will leave the state on the 2008 Edition for at least another 3 years, while neighboring states (Oregon, Idaho, Utah) will have adopted and begun enforcement of the 2011 far ahead of Washington. This restriction affects not only the electrical rules, but all of the planning the Washington Building Code Council had in place to adopt 2012 building codes and energy code.

The State Electrical Rule development may be followed at:

There is an additional wrinkle in this story, in that the incorporated cities in the state have the legal ability to establish their own electrical inspection programs, and some 27 cities have elected to do so. Those cities have joined together to develop and adopt a separate electrical code, based on the NEC and the State code, but with significant amendments, many of which reinstated important provisions of the NEC that the state had removed. It is possible that the Cities, representing at least half of the construction activity in the State, could adopt the 2011 independently and far earlier than the State.

The Cities Electrical Code may be found at:

NEMA will continue to work with all parties to advance the timely adoption of the most modern electrical code possible, and in the most timely manner.

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


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