CASPER, Wyo. — City of Casper Community Development officials are predicting that proposed changes to municipal electrical code on average could add $500–$1,000 to newly built residential homes of typical construction.
On Tuesday, May 16, the Casper City council set June 6 as the date to accept public comment on proposed changes to portions of the Casper municipal code adopting 2023 National Fire Protection Association 70, National Electrical Code. June 6 is also the first of three ordinance readings for the proposed amended city law.
The National Fire Protection Association is a global self-funded nonprofit organization established in 1896 to eliminate death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.
According to a city staff memo, Wyoming law requires the city to adopt the same building codes as the state within the same calendar year. All sections of the city’s building codes are on a three-year update cycle, with the National Electrical Code a year ahead of other building code revisions. This year, the state will adopt the 2023 NFPA 70, NEC on July 1, replacing the 2020 version.
Justin Scott, a city building inspector, summarized in writing the significant changes to the 2023 National Electrical Code that will impact residential and commercial structures. They include:
- Ground fault circuit interrupter protection for all 125- to 250-volt receptacles in dwelling unit kitchens.
- Buffet serving locations must be ground fault circuit interrupter protected.
- Commercial appliances within 6 feet of a sink require ground fault circuit interrupter protection.
- Dwelling unit specific appliances now require ground fault circuit interrupter protection such as microwaves, wall mounted ovens and electric ranges. Island and peninsular countertops and work surfaces are now optional.
- Surge protective devices are required on hotels and motels, dormitory units and areas of nursing homes and limited-care facilities used exclusively as patient sleeping rooms.
These are a few of many changes that happen every code cycle that will add some cost to construction on homes, motels and some commercial installations, Scott wrote.
“The main costs are in the breakers required for many of these installs,” he wrote. “On average it will cost $500–$1,000 more for typical new-residential construction. Surge protection has doubled and will certainly add cost to new motels and hotels.”
Another issue is availability of some electrical equipment, and that inability to obtain equipment is leading to longer lead times and increased material costs, Scott wrote.
During May 16 general public comments, former Natrona County state legislator Patrick Sweeney urged caution on adopting national electrical code.
“I know there are certain things we have to do to come into compliance,” Sweeney said, “but sometimes the state, sometimes the cities, and sometimes the federal government go a bit too far, which can affect our progress on economic development.”
Councilor Kyle Gamroth, while agreeing with modern safety measures, said the pendulum can go too far the opposite way. He asked City Attorney Eric Nelson to share more about the city’s legal obligations.
“I would love more context on that,” Gamroth said.
Nelson said that generally speaking, to maintain local enforcement authority the city has to adopt at a minimum the same codes the state has adopted.
“If we don’t adopt them, the state can come in and preempt Casper’s ability to regulate our own citizens,” he said.
Read more about the 2023 National Fire Protection Association 70, National Electrical Code proposed amended ordinance here: