Electrical operating permits: what are they and do I need one?
As a building owner or strata manager, you need an electrical operating permit to operate electrical equipment. If you don’t have one, it increases your risk of developing electrical hazards. You may also be subject to enforcement action.
To improve public safety, we are developing a data-driven model that identifies where sites with electrical equipment exist in BC, and whether the equipment is missing the required operating permit. So far, a preliminary version of our model suggests that commercial sites, in particular, are most likely to be found without the necessary electrical operating permit.
As we continue to improve this model, our goal is to help educate building owners and strata managers like you about electrical operating permit requirements. Below, we’ve provided answers to some common questions we receive about electrical operating permits:
What kind of equipment warrants an electrical operating permit?
If you own, operate, or maintain the following electrical equipment, you must have an operating permit when:
- operation or design of electrical equipment requires regular or ongoing maintenance
- supply to privately owned equipment is greater than 750 volts (except for high voltage neon signs)
- equipment is operated or maintained for emergency service and/or is part of a fire alarm system
- rated service capacity of equipment as per the manufacturer’s nameplate rating is capable of handling electrical supply of over 250 kVA (e.g, main service switch, main transforming equipment, electrical panel, or transformer)
- equipment is operated within the class or zone designations for hazardous locations.
Who issues an electrical operating permit?
Technical Safety BC issues electrical operating permits and completes inspections for most areas of British Columbia, but there are several exceptions including City of Vancouver, City of Burnaby and City of Victoria. Contact Technical Safety BC to learn more, or search “Jurisdiction” on our website.
What are the limits of permitted alterations?
With an operating permit, facilities with a main service rating of 250 kVA or less can make alterations that do not result in an increase of greater than 12.5 kVA in additional loads.
Facilities with a main service rating of 250 kVA or greater can make minor alterations that do not result in an increase of greater than 36 kVA in additional loads.
What is the role of a Field Safety Representative (FSR)?
An electrical FSR is a professionally-qualified individual who is certified by Technical Safety BC, and they are named on every electrical operating permit. They can validate completed electrical work and can provide assurance that the electrical equipment has been safely installed and is being properly maintained.
What type of minor alterations or additions are included within the scope of an electrical operating permit?
Under the supervision of a FSR, owners can conduct regular maintenance work, including:
- replacement of existing equipment with equipment intended to perform the same function; and
- installation, relocation, and alteration of electrical equipment that is subject to the conditions set out in Section G of Directive D-E3 070801 7, Electrical Operating Permit Requirements.
Maintenance work is not allowed to result in the main service capacity being exceeded. Load calculations must be entered into the log book.
Can I change my FSR during the duration of the permit?
Yes. FSRs can be changed at any time. However, if you have an operating permit and your FSR has changed, you must let Technical Safety BC know.
How do I get an operating permit from Technical Safety BC?
Clients registered for our online services can apply for an operating permit online or can complete and submit the Electrical Operating Permit Application Form, available through technicalsafetybc.ca. Operating permits are renewed annually.
Research has shown that equipment operated under a permit is four times less likely to develop a hazardous situation. Check with your contractor or electrician to determine if your equipment or facility needs an annual operating permit.