This is it. For the past four-and-a-half months CodeWatch has scoured the thousands of pages of proposals presented to the twenty Code-Making Panels to find those that could have the greatest effect on your work. We couldn't possibly cover them all, but those we did cover are presented here.

Code-Making Panel 2
Proposal 2-134a Sec. 210.12

It seems like everything associated with AFCIs has the potential to stir up debate. Code-Making Panel 2 has proposed two significant changes to the rules for arc-fault circuit interrupters, including new text that specifies combination-type devices. The proposal was accepted, but dissenting opinions presented by members of the panel dispute the need for the change because although at least one combination-type AFCI is UL Listed, it has yet to become commercially available. It should be noted that as defined for this use, "combination" refers to protection for parallel and series arcing, not combined AFCI and GFCI protection.

Code-Making Panel 2
Proposal 2-211a, 210.52(C)(1)

The panel accepted a proposal to add the following exception: "Receptacle outlets shall not be required on a wall directly behind a range top or sink. The area directly behind a range top or sink is determined as shown in Figure 210.52. Receptacle outlets in this location shall not be considered as the required countertop outlets."

Code-Making Panel 3
Proposal 3-26, Sec. 300.4(A)(2)

The panel accepted a proposal that clarifies that a nailer plate(s) must protect the wiring method for its entire length where subject to penetration. Otherwise, for example, where several cables are run together through a header, a single plate may not be big enough to protect all the cables. It also clarifies that you may need several plates end-to-end if a cable runs parallel to a framing member without the required 1.25-in. clearance.

Code-Making Panel 5
Proposal 5-37, Art. 250

The misuse of and confusion over the term "bonding" has grown so troublesome that even a Code-Making Panel not responsible for its application tried to do something about it. Although CMP-6 ultimately deferred to CMP-5 on the issue of using "equipment bonding conductor" in place of "equipment grounding conductor," CMP-5 accepted a proposal to add the term "bonding" to the name of Art. 250. Four separate proposals called for the change, which would acknowledge the fact that there are just as many bonding requirements as grounding requirements in the Article.

Code-Making Panel 5
Proposal 5-154 Sec. 250.64(B)

The problem with burying things underground is that sooner or later someone is bound to dig them up. In the case of a buried conductor, putting as much distance between the electricity it carries and an errant shovel tip is one way to protect everyone involved in the absence of conduit. Grounding electrode conductors may not typically carry current, but that doesn't mean they don't need protection. Despite suggestions that any depth requirements should be accompanied by distance-from-building requirements, the panel accepted a proposed additional paragraph to 250.64 that would require direct buried grounding electrode conductors to be buried at least 12 in. below grade. The proposal was brought about by the fact that few installers and inspectors consider the burial requirements of Table 300.5 to be applicable to grounding electrode conductors.

Code-Making Panel 6
Proposal 6-12 Sec. 310.6

The range of unshielded solid dielectric insulated conductors acceptable for installation is shrinking considerably. Although 310.6 of the 2002 Code requires shielded conductors for voltages greater than 2,000V, an exception does provide for installations of unshielded cable operating as high as 8,000V. However, this proposal would narrow that exception to no more than 2,400V. Submitter David Brender of Copper Development cites instances of arcing that could present safety hazards. Despite garnering the necessary votes for acceptance, the proposal may receive close scrutiny at the Code Panel meetings this December, thanks to strong dissenting opinions that call for further substantiation.

Code-Making Panel 7
Proposal 7-25, Sec. 322.10

It's typically easier to determine and govern the uses for which a wiring method isn't acceptable. However, this Section tried to tackle the uses for which flat cable assemblies are acceptable. The NEC Technical Correlating Committee saw the problems inherent in keeping a list of acceptable uses, and proposed deleting the Section altogether. CMP 7 accepted the proposal, keeping only a list of uses for which flat cable assemblies are not permitted (322.12).

Code-Making Panel 10
Proposal 10-39, Sec. 240.20(B)(1)(2)(3)

In another example of one word making all the difference, CMP-10 accepted the proposal to replace the word "approved" with "identified" in reference to handle ties in 240.20. The current wording puts the power to accept or reject a handle tie -- regardless of its intended use -- in the hands of the Authority Having Jurisdiction. This change would eliminate the subjective nature of the requirement and prevent installers from using things like nails, screws, or wire as handle ties.

Code-Making Panel 12
Proposal 12-33 Sec. 625.2

In response to the growing number of people who use golf carts or other small 4-wheeled electric vehicles for short trips in and around golf communities, CMP-12 has accepted a proposal to include "neighborhood electric vehicles" to the definition of an electric vehicle in 625.2. However, it should be noted that the new definition excludes golf carts by name. Neighborhood electric vehicles, as defined by the Department of Transportation, have a top speed of 25 mph and have automotive grade headlights, seat belts, windshields, and brakes. It's important to recognize that not all golf carts meet these requirements.

Code-Making Panel 14
Proposal 14-34 Sec. 501.15(B)(2)

Sometimes it's possible to have too much protection. Over time, the requirement for sealing fittings in conduits that pass from Div. 2 locations into unclassified locations has come to mean different things to different people. Despite the high cost and the fact that it's unnecessary, it has become common to specify explosionproof seals. However, in such instances the seal's only purpose is to minimize the amount of gas or vapor within the Div. 2 location that can pass into the unclassified area. The proposed change would add text that explicitly states sealing fittings need not be explosionproof.

Code-Making Panel 14
Proposals 14-29, 14-101, 14-105, etc.

Although 398.2 defines the term "open wiring on insulators" as an exposed wiring method that uses cleats, knobs, tubes, and flexible tubing for protecting and supporting single insulated conductors run in or on buildings, there is no definition for the term "open wiring," which appears nine times throughout the Code. In each case it's used to describe a cable that must have mechanical integrity and protection. A set of proposals that would remove the undefined term from Chapters 5, 6, and 7 point out installations labeled this way are, in fact, not open. A separate proposal was submitted for each instance.

Code-Making Panel 15
Proposal 15-18 Sec. 517.13(A)

Some people recommend changes to the Code based on anecdotal evidence or experiences out in the field. Others, like George Straniero, AFC Cable Systems, use fact-finding reports from nationally recognized test agencies to prove their point. A March 2001 investigation conducted by UL, which was also used to substantiate the amendment of 517-13(a) Exception 1 in the 1999 Code, proves that the outer metal sheath of Type MC cable that employs interlocked metal armor qualifies as an acceptable ground return path in lengths not exceeding 100 ft, thus meeting the requirements for branch circuits that serve patient care areas. A proposed addition to the 2005 Code would require that the cable be listed for the purpose, which would require specific cable construction and performance requirements to maintain the acceptability of the ground path. The fact-finding report found that when used in combination with a grounding conductor, Type MC cable that employs interlocked metal armor would cause a circuit breaker to open within 2 sec. The armor and grounding path also complied with the requirements in UL 467, Standard for Grounding and Bonding Equipment, and it couldn't be ignited under a high-impedance ground-fault current test.

Code-Making Panel 16
Proposals 16-81 and 16-82, Sec. 800.6

The issue of "neat and workmanlike" installation practices has caused plenty of debate in the electrical industry throughout the last few years. The 2002 edition of the CodeĀ® was revised to delete a Fine Print Note that directed users to several documents and standards that defined "neat and workmanlike" installation of communications circuits and equipment. In addition to a proposal put forth by James Brunssen of Telecordia Technologies, Inc., that would clarify portions of the Section, a second proposal would add back a revised version of the 1999 Fine Print Note that references ANSI/NECA/BICSI 568-2001, which defines installation parameters.

Code-Making Panel 17
Proposal 17-6 Sec. 422.16(B)(4)

The items inside a vending machine aren't always good for you, but you wouldn't expect the machine itself to be bad for your health. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has investigated four electrocutions caused by vending machine conductors faulting to the exposed frame of the machine since 1995 -- a phenomenon that EC&M has covered in a previous Forensic Casebook column. In response, Bill King, the CPSC's chief engineer for electrical and fire safety, submitted a proposal that would add a new paragraph to Part IV of Art. 422 and require the use of ground-fault circuit interrupters for cord-and-plug connected vending machines.

Code-Making Panel 17
Proposal 17-24 Sec. 422.31(B)

Performing maintenance on electrical equipment may require a lot of thought, but keeping yourself safe while doing it shouldn't. With a multitude of lockout devices available and uncertainty over whether appliances will even provide a disconnect means other than a circuit breaker, until now maintenance technicians have been responsible for their own safety by coming prepared for almost any situation. If James Dollard of IBEW Local 98 gets his way, though, that won't be the case once the 2005 Code is published. His proposal would require that regardless of what method is provided, the appliance must be accompanied by a permanently installed lockout device on or at the switch or circuit breaker used as the disconnecting means.

Code-Making Panel 18
Proposal 18-61 Sec. 410.15(B)

What do you do when you think it's OK to install something but you don't have anything to tell you if you're doing it correctly? Despite their widespread use and the fact that they provide as much protection as their metal counterparts, nonmetallic poles made of concrete, fiberglass, and PVC used to support luminaires have never been specifically recognized by the Code as acceptable for use as raceway. However, the Code doesn't specifically prohibit their use either. This ambiguity has left installers of nonmetallic lighting poles with the task of using an infrastructure component without ever knowing whether they're doing it correctly. Any judgment calls were left up to the AHJ or local inspector. A proposal before CMP 18 would eliminate references to metal poles in 410.15(B), thereby broadening its scope to include nonmetallic poles and clarifying the section's requirements.