D.C. Council Puts Public at Risk, According to the Washington, D.C. Chapter of NECA

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New bill would eliminate testing for electricians to receive licenses for working in Washington, D.C.

By eliminating the examination, the Council is removing a safeguard that has been in place for years to protect the public from potentially dangerous situations in a stated effort to generate ‘higher wages’ for a few electricians who don’t have licenses.

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The D.C. Council is moving closer to passing a bill that jeopardizes the safety of all District residents and workers, according to the Washington, D.C. Chapter of NECA.

The "Electrician's Equality Act,” would eliminate the need for electricians to pass a test based on the National Electric Code (and administered by the City’s Board of Industrial Trades) to be licensed in the District, requiring only a “certificate from a recognized national trade organization certifying that the applicant has passed its required examination and is considered and classed by that organization as a journeyman electrician.”

PEPCO, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), numerous individual contractors, and the District’s own Board of Industrial Trades have offered testimony in opposition to the Act. To view a video recording of the hearing, visit the DC Government website.

“By eliminating the examination, the Council is removing a safeguard that has been in place for many years to protect the public from potentially dangerous situations in a stated effort to generate ‘higher wages’ for a few electricians who don’t have licenses,” explained Washington, D.C. Chapter, NECA Executive Director Andrew Porter.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, electrical malfunction resulted in 32,500 fires nationwide in 2009 (the latest year information is available). Electrical malfunctions have been responsible for recent notable fires in Washington, D.C. including the Eastern Market and Eisenhower Executive Office Building fires in 2007.

“We have D.C. residents that are injured or killed each year due to dangerous electrical situations and we should be doing everything we can to lessen these instances, not increasing risks by no longer requiring licensed electrical workers to demonstrate knowledge of the safety Code,” added Porter.

The bill is sponsored by D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson and co-sponsored by several fellow Council members. It passed the first reading unanimously on November 1st and will be up for the second reading on December 6th. Currently, no other locality issues electric licenses based on such a certification - from private entities that may have competing interests and/or less demanding standards.

About Washington, D.C. Chapter of NECA
The Washington, D.C. Chapter National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) represents over 150 qualified, reliable, and experienced contractors in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, who perform most of the electrical and telecommunications installations in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, suburban/southern Maryland, northern and southwestern Virginia. More information is available at http://www.wdcneca.org.

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Reesa Herberth
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