Information Bulletin: Electrical Safety Regulation Application to Public Utilities
December 8, 2017
This information bulletin is being issued by a provincial safety manager pursuant to section 30 of the Safety Standards Act.
This information bulletin provides guidance on the interpretation and application of the Electrical Safety Regulation (ESR) in respect to the electric power utilities’ customer service connections. This information bulletin applies only to equipment owned by public utilities as defined under the Utilities Commission Act.
The exemption under Section 3(1) of the Electrical Safety Regulation does not specifically cover varying scopes of electrical installations on private property associated with evolving configurations of customer utility supply service connections. Historically, electric utilities in British Columbia have required utility customers to supply, install, and maintain all material and equipment as customer owned infrastructure for customer service connection. Accordingly, this work has historically not been considered as being exempted under ESR, s. 3(1).
Changes to utility practices and requirements for utility connections have often resulted in confusion among designers, installers, and inspection authorities. There was a lack of clarity regarding the allocation between regulated and exempted electrical work; and the appropriate design and installation standard to be applied.
These conditions resulted in a review with respect to this work and its relationship to the exemption. Directive D-EL 2017-01 and this bulletin clarify the demarcation point separating regulated electrical work requiring a permit and work on customer owned infrastructure for the purpose of utility distribution of electrical energy that comprise utility exemption per Electrical Safety Regulation Section 3.
Based on applicable utility standards, the customer shall supply all ducting for the utility supply conductors, pull boxes and cable pull pits. In the past few decades, utilities required customers to provide highly prepared switchgear rooms and transformer alcoves to facilitate the installation of utility owned equipment inside customer owned buildings. This requirement evolved in response to certain zoning bylaw changes, which allowed zero clearance building development to the property line.
Electrical utilities have recently been implementing engineered grounding standards, which require equipotential bonding for exposed pad-mounted equipment, as the most effective means for ensuring public safety. Accordingly, the utility requires its customers to supply, install and maintain customer owned grounding, bonding and gradient control conductors associated with the utility high voltage distribution equipment placed on private property and inside customer owned buildings.
Electrical utility infrastructures (including utility owned and customer owned and maintained) do not fall within the jurisdiction of Technical Safety BC. Therefore, Technical Safety BC assumes no responsibility regarding design, installation, operation, or public safety. Utility customers are encouraged to work with the utility to understand the applicable standards and inspection requirements.
The confines and demarcation of Section 3(1) utility exempt infrastructure are defined by utility civil and electrical drawings associated with specific site installations and are restricted to infrastructure directly related to the exercise of its function as a utility with respect to the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical energy.
A. For illustration purposes, examples of typical exempted utility service connections are provided in Appendix A.
Provincial Safety Manager
Electrical Safety Regulation
Directive D-EL 2017-01 Exemptions to Public Utilities