National Electrical Code ExplanationsBased on the 2014 NEC
National Electrical Code Tips: Article 705, Interconnected Electric Power Production Sources
If you have a standby generator, it's probably an interconnected electric power production source. In fact, most onsite generation is interconnected. What does "interconnected" mean? We'll get to that in a moment. Just a teaser: it does not mean a power source that interacts with the grid.
Examples where the onsite power source is probably not interconnected include solar powered decorative lights and solar powered ventilation systems. These are independent systems. The lights, if not operated, pose no threat to safety or operations. The idea behind solar powered ventilation systems is you don't need them when the sun isn't bearing down heating things up. These ventilation systems may be the sole ones or they may be additional, supplemental ones to aid during peak temperatures.
So what is an interconnected power source?
A power source is "interconnected" when it operates in parallel with the primary source(s) of electricity. Though Article 705 doesn't provide the definition, we understand it from the scope in 705.1.
This does not necessarily mean a power source that interacts with the grid. There are other scenarios; this interaction with the grid is just one. The primary source might not be the grid at all. For example, a bank in Omaha, Nebraska has no connection to the grid. It uses onsite fuel cell systems as its primary source. The bank also has gas turbines as interconnected power sources.
So keep in mind that the defining characteristic of an interconnected power source is that it interacts with the primary source(s) which are not necessarily the grid. Don't assume that the grid is the primary source either, even if it is a source (it might not even be used). In some facilities, the grid is a tertiary source and that makes it an interconnected power source.
Let's address some
highlights of the Article 705 requirements:
- As the name implies, these systems are interconnected. In our intro, we explained what that means. Don't confuse these with other systems. But also, don't make the mistake of thinking these can't also be classified as some other system. Any of the systems covered by Article 700, 701, or 702 can also be covered by Article 705. And they are covered by Article 705 if they are interconnected.
- Wherever you have such a system, you must post a permanent plaque or directory that denotes all power sources in or on the premises [705.10]. It makes sense to exceed this basic requirement by also installing a sign or board that has a map or drawing that shows the location of the various power sources (with You Are Here distinctly shown). For example, you can install the same sort of board that's typically used for employee communications outside the clock-in or break room areas.
- The "point of connection" is a critical aspect of these systems. The requirements vary, depending upon whether the connection is on the supply side [705.12(A)], you have an "integrated electrical system" [705.12(B)], or the aggregate of the non-utility sources exceeds 100kW (or the service exceeds 1kV) [705.12(C)]. And there are special requirements for utility-interactive inverters [705.12(D)].
- If you have a utility-interactive inverter, the requirements are extensive compared to the other requirements of 705.12. It's worth noting that the bus or conductor ampere rating requirements [705.12(D)(2)] are all new with the 2014 NEC and take up about half of the requirements included in 705.12 "Point of Connection". In addition, all of Part II covers requirements for these inverters [705.60 through 705.100].
- Also new with the utility-interactive inverter requirements as of 2014 is the AFCI requirement [705.12(D)(2)]. The 2014 NEC CMP put quite a bit of thought into requirements for utility-interactive inverters.
- You must provide a means of disconnecting all ungrounded conductors of an electric power source from all other conductors [705.21].
- You must also provide a means of disconnecting power production equipment from all ungrounded conductors, if the power source is 1kV or less [705.21].
- Another change with the 2014 NEC is the location of overcurrent protection. All of subsection 705.31 is new, not just the content but the subsection itself. You must install overcurrent protection within 10 ft of the point where the power source conductors connect to the service [705.31]. But there's an exception. You can exceed this limitation if you install cable limiters or current-limited circuit breakers at the point of connection to the service.
- To avoid electrocuting linemen and other utility workers during a grid outage, your system must automatically disconnect from the primary source and not reconnect until that source is restored [705.40]. A similar restriction applies in the event of phase loss [705.42].
- Part III [705.130 and 705.143] provides requirements for generators, if used in these types of systems. Basically, these two subsections are telling you to provide the necessary overcurrent protection per Article 240 and protect the generators per 445.12. And if you have a synchronous generator, provide it with the equipment necessary for maintaining a synchronous condition.
How the NEC is arranged
- The first four Chapters of the NEC apply to all installations.
- Article 90 precedes Chapter One, and establishes the authority of the NEC.
- Article 80 follows the body of the NEC; it exists as Annex H. It provides the requirements for administration.
- Chapters 5, 6, and 7 are the "special" chapters, covering special: occupancies, equipment, and conditions (in that order).
- Chapter 8 provides the requirements for communications systems.
- Chapter 9 provides tables.
- The appendices provide mostly reference information.
- Appendix D contains examples that every NEC user should study.
Try your NEC moxy:
- Do you know the difference between bonding and grounding? Hint: Look in the NEC, Article 100.
- Does the NEC refer to grounding incorrectly in any of its articles? Yes! So be careful to apply the Article 100 definitions. Don't ground where you should bond.
- When doing motor load calculations, which Article covers hermetic motors? Answer: While Article 440 covers the application of hermetic motors, it does so only by amending Article 430 because hermetic motors are a special case of motors. For motor load calculations, refer to Article 430.
- Does the NEC provide a voltage drop requirement? Yes! It does so in a special case, which is Article 648 Sensitive Electronic Equipment. But for general applications, it does not provide a requirement; it merely provides a recommendation in a couple of FPNs.
- Take our Code Quizzes.
Remember other applicable codes, rules, standards, and references:
- OSHA's electrical worker safety rules.
- IEEE standards.
- NETA standards.
- NFPA standards.
- International Codes (if applicable to the installation).
- State Codes (if the state has them).
- Local ordinances and permit requirements.
- Local fire codes.
- Manufacturer requirements or guidelines.
- Customer security requirements.
- Industry standards.
- Your company's own internal standards, practices, and procedures.
- Engineering drawing notes.
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