The policy behind the electrical permit regime which has been in vogue in the Kingdom of Tonga since 1985, is Public Safety, in particular the prevention of death or injury to persons, or danger to property from electrical hazards.
For that reason :-
Only qualified electricians licensed by the Electricity Commission are authorised to undertake electrical works (as also their staff but only under the “direct supervision” of a qualified electrician):
Electrical works can be executed only after the Commission has issued a Permit authorising these works :
A Certificate of Completion has been issued by the Commission, which is the authority to the electricity supplier (usually Tonga Power Limited) to connect power to the premises whereat the works had been undertaken.
Despite the abolition of the Tonga Electric Power Board in 2008, By-Laws made under the authority of the TEPB Act remain in full force and effect [TEPB Repeal Act 2007, section 2(2)(b)] and are policed by the Electricity Commission. Accordingly the public safety oversight regime in respect of ELECTRICAL WORKS continues to be regulated by the Electrical Contractor By-Laws 1985 supplemented by revised TEPB practices brought into force in 2005, and by the Electricity Commission after July 2008. This Part of the Operations Manual now restates the Law and Practice of the Commission, in one document.
The Electricity Commission’s Technical Manager and their Deputy Technical Manager are the Commission’s Public Safety oversight authority and operate the Permit Regime under full delegated authority except only (1) where an issue of policy arises or (2) concerning any change to the Fees charged, which matters are referred to the Commissioners for resolution.
The existing Electrical Wiring By-Laws made by TEPB on 30th April 1985 technically remain in force. However the Technical requirements thereof are outmoded and do not represent best safety or regulatory practice today. Indeed even TEPB from the start of this century adopted de facto as a safe Wiring Standard the Joint Australian and New Zealand Wiring Code 3000:2000, published in the year 2000. Inspectors employed by the Electricity Commission and virtually all licensed electricians in Tonga, have been trained in or sometimes practiced their trade in New Zealand or Australia.
The current version of the Wiring Standard is Wiring Code AS/NZS 3000:2007 PUBLISHED BY Standards New Zealand on 12th November 2007. This is the Standard with which all electrical works in Tonga now require to comply
A Wiring Permit must be applied for and be granted BEFORE any electrical works are commenced. This is required by By-Law 5, and it is a criminal offense under By-Law 12 to fail to comply with the requirements of By-Law 5.
Only electrical Contractors with a current Electricity Commission registration are authorised to carry out electrical works –
Either PERSONALLY, Or through members of their staff under their DIRECT SUPERVISION (By-Law 8). It is a criminal offence under By-Law 12 to fail to comply with the requirements of By-Law 8.
The Commission considers that DIRECT SUPERVISION requires the physical presence of the Electrical Contractor on site directly supervising his staff all the time they are undertaking permitted electrical works.
No Permit will be granted until the Commission receives and has reviewed all the Plans and Specifications it considers necessary. This must include a Location Plan and a Wiring Plan of the proposed electrical works.
The Commission will retain one copy of the Permit; a second copy will be returned to the Contractor to enable him to execute the necessary electrical works, and a third copy is provided for information to Tonga Power Limited. Where the works involved take the form of an addition to OR an alteration of the status quo, then the existing wiring plan of the premises must also be supplied.
Once approved a Permit cannot be amended, and any additional works or alterations must be the subject of a new Permit Application: see By-Law 7. That By-Law also makes it a criminal offense to make additions or changes to works approved by the original Permit granted, without the authority of a new Permit applied for, processed and granted in the normal way.
Without compromising safety, and assuming that:-
the Application is properly completed and accompanied by all necessary Plans and Specifications;
fees are paid on the same or next day after the Fee Calculation has been issued;
no defects are found when the Commission inspects the electrical works executed by the Electrical Contractor; or, any defects found are remedied forthwith,
then in the interests of providing an efficient service to the Tongan Public, effective 1st January 2011 the following maximum Time Limits must be adhered to:-
Issue Permit: within 3 working days of receipt of Permit Application.
Inspection: within 5 working days of a request to inspect works, complete inspection and issue Certificate of Completion or Outer Islands Temporary Connection Certificate (see number 5A of paragraph 11 hereof).
Unless in exceptional circumstances approved by a Commissioner these Time Limits must not be departed from.
When the Electrical Contractor has completed the permitted Electrical Works he must so advise the Commission in writing so that the Oversight Authority may inspect these works. No Certificate of Completion will be issued by the Commission until the Technical Manager or his Deputy is satisfied, after inspection, that the electrical works have been carried out in strict accordance with –
the Permit; and the approved Plans and Specifications; and, the electrical wiring rules and regulations adopted by the Commission from time to time.
One copy of the Certificate of Completion will be issued to the Electrical Contractor a second will be retained on the Permit File, and a third shall be delivered to Tonga Power Limited as their authority to connect electrical power to the place at which the electrical works were undertaken.
Having thus set the scene, the detailed procedures in force concerning the Permit Regime are as set forth hereunder. The Forms used are annexed to this Part of the Operations Manual.
No. 1 Electrical Contractor Applies to the Commission for a Permit (Form 1) and lodges all Plans and Specifications which the Oversight Authority of the Commission shall require.
No. 2 A Fee Calculation is issued by the Commission to the Electrical Contractor (Form 2) and thereafter the Fee is paid and the Contractor is issued with a Commission Invoice (Form 3) and a Receipt.
No. 3 After review of the Application and supporting documents, if satisfied, the Oversight Authority issues a Permit (Form 4). The Permit may vary slightly if of a Temporary nature – this fact (and the expiry date) must be specified in the Permit. The Permit may be signed by either the Technical Manager or the Deputy Technical Manager.
No. 4 The Electrical Contractor completes the electrical works and then advises the Commission in writing that he has done so and requests that the Commission inspect the electrical works.
No. 5 The Electrical Works are then inspected by the Oversight Authority and if any rectification is required this is detailed in the Inspector’s Report (Form 5). When all works have been completed satisfactorily a Certificate of Completion (Form 6) is issued and may be signed by either the Technical Manager or the Deputy Technical Manager.
No. 5A Where the electrical works have been undertaken in the Niuas, Vava’u, Ha’apai or ‘Eua (the Kingdoms’ Outer Islands) where the Commission have no resident inspector, then on the Oversight Authority being advised by the contractor that the electrical works have been completed properly, a Temporary Connection Permission (Form 7) may be issued by the Technical Manager or the Deputy Technical Manager pending a formal inspection within 5 weeks and the issue of a Form 6 Certificate of Completion. This part of the Commission’s procedures was introduced as from February 2011 after consultation with Tonga Power, to avoid inconvenience to electrical consumers living in the Outer Islands.
In according with By-Law 12 failure by an electrician to adhere to the existing By-Laws concerning Electrical Permits requires the Commission to cancel the offending electrician’s license. The Commission has no discretion in this matter: the By-Law says quite explicitly that in such circumstances the electrician’s registration “shall be canceled.”
Before any such drastic action is considered the Commission will undertake a full investigation and all the requirements of natural justice will be adhered to. This will include notification to the electrician involved of the complaint(s) against him and a reasonable time allowed for him to respond thereto. If requested, he is also entitled to a personal hearing before the Commission.
As a result of such inquiries, the Commission will be in a position to adjudge whether or not to report the breaches of the By-Laws for criminal prosecution. Such a reference is not automatic but a matter for the Commission’s discretion.
POLICY OBJECTIVES - The principle policy objectives of the Commission remain : • to ensure the provision of a safe, continuous and uninterrupted supply of electrical power to Tongan Consumers: and • to ensure that the cost of such electrical power is kept as low as possible.