IEC Members Vote on Proposals for NEC Code-Making Panels

February 13, 2003,

Alexandria, Va. — At the 2005 National Electrical Code (NEC) Report on Proposals (ROP) Panel Meetings in Hilton Head, South Carolina, IEC members reviewed and voted on several important code proposals. IEC participates on 18 of 19 code-making panels. Each Code-Making Panel is responsible for different articles of the National Electrical Code, which is updated every three years. Anyone can submit proposals to change the NEC, and CMP representatives are charged with the responsibility of reviewing them, one by one. They then make recommendations to approve, modify, or reject the proposals.

At this meeting, important proposals repeated throughout several CMP voting sessions. Some proposals consisted of wording changes to reflect changing technical jargon or to add new information. Wording changes may seem minor, but in reality, they affect manufacturers, wiring instructions, U/L and other specifications industry-wide.

For example, in CMP-1, the panel voted to accept proposal 1-2 to change the term “equipment grounding conductor” to “equipment bonding conductor” everywhere those terms appear in the NEC. This panel also voted to include the definition of “Neutral Conductor” in Article 100. Panel members accepted this proposal (1-122) in principle, and they referred this action to Panels 2, 4, 5, and 13 for comments.

Another example of additional text proposals occurred in proposal 1-172a, a revision to 110.16, which added precautions about flash hazards. “Switchboards, panel boards, industrial control panels, meter socket enclosures, and motor control centers, for other than dwelling occupancies, that are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized, shall be field marked with a label indicating the incident energy available, or the rating of needed protective clothing in calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2), to warn qualified persons of potential electric arc flash hazards and to aid in the selection of flame resistant clothing and other personal protective equipment.”

On CMP-3, Larry Ayer, Principal, said, “There was nearly two days of discussion and over 60 proposals on the Limited Combustible Cable and the use for it.” This new cable purportedly has less smoke and flame spread than Plenum Cable. The panel moved to accept Proposal 3-194 making Limited Combustible Cable an equal to Plenum Cable. Also on CMP-3, a proposal to add a Fine Print Note under Article 760 to reference ANSI/NECA 305-2001 for Fire Alarm System Job Practices was accepted.

Several panels were faced with proposals dealing with the change from “grounding” to “bonding.” CMP-4 voted to reject proposal 4-1 to change the term “equipment grounding conductor” to “equipment bonding conductor” throughout the NEC. “This is an issue that would have to be taken up by the correlating committee, and we would need direction from them,” said Terry Cole, CMP-4 Panel Representative.

CMP-5 also reviewed numerous proposals to change the word “grounding” to “bonding” throughout. “After extensive debate and a task group report, CMP-5 made a panel proposal (5-78a) to handle the change in code language deleting the word “grounding” and replacing it with “bonding,” said Ted Robertson, CMP-5 Principal.

Jerry Kent, Principal on CMP-6, said that they rejected proposal 6-1 to change “grounding” to “bonding.” He said, “The panel statement was general acceptance; however, the issue should have resided with Panel 5 first and then be reviewed on an item-by-item basis to ensure the global change does not affect the meaning of the written word.” Kent added that the hottest item for his panel was proposal 6-45, which deals with using raised ambient temperature to calculate the wire size for conduits installed on rooftops in direct sunlight. CMP-6 accepted 6-45.

CMP-8 rejected the grounding to bonding name change proposal; CMP-12 accepted it; and CMP-19 rejected the universal change. Bill Zanicchi, Principal on CMP-19, said, “This proposal is repeated at least 16 times within panel 19’s scope, which meant that the panel just rejected each one without discussion after rejecting the first one. I believe this change would clarify the admitted ‘confusion’ in the present language. It appears that panel 5 also sees merit in this proposal and accepted its concept by creating a panel proposal to change the term to ‘bonding.’ I applaud their efforts as I can only imagine the debate that went on in that meeting room.”

Final ballots from all Code-Making Panel Representatives are due Tuesday, February 18, 2003. Comments can be made on all proposals by visiting the “Codes and Standards” section of the IEC website at: . All Code-Making Panel members are listed on the IEC website under “NEC Code Panel” at: .

Established in 1957, IEC is a trade association made up of more than 3,200 merit shop electrical and systems contractors with 74 chapters nationwide. Headquartered in Alexandria, Va., IEC is dedicated to promoting the common interests of those engaging in the business of electrical and communications construction. IEC also works to initiate federal legislation that makes the electrical industry safer and stronger. For more information, contact News Editor Kristinn Leonhart at (703) 549-7351, or via email:

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