Texas pool professionals should not be allowed to do electrical work on commercial pools and spas, according to a recent published opinion from the state’s attorney general.
Though the opinion does not constitute a new statute, it does
represent the attorney general’s official interpretation of
an existing law, developed at the request of other state officials.
Thus, it sets a precedent that’s likely to influence the
decisions of judges and other enforcement officers.
“Until this opinion was published, a lot of people in the
industry were working under the assumption that the scope of our
license included some commercial work,” said Kevin Tucker,
information officer at the Aquatic Professionals Education
Council, a statewide pool and spa industry advocacy group.
Since March 2010, every pool technician who performs electrical
work has been required to earn an updated Texas Residential
Appliance Installer license by passing an exam based on the 2008
National Electrical Code handbook. Until now, most had assumed the
license allowed them to perform any electrical work specifically
related to a pool or spa — whether the site was residential
“The way we originally understood the law,” Tucker
said, “was that if there was a sub-panel in the breaker box
that was labeled as being for pool and spa equipment, we could work
on anything wired into that panel. If there wasn’t a
sub-panel, then we couldn’t work on any wiring in the main
breaker panel.” In short, pool technicians believed they were
licensed to perform work on any electrical components that were
wired separately from the site’s main power grid.
Many in the industry agreed this was an ideal scope for a pool
electrical license because it covered the vast majority of
electrical work performed by service techs in both commercial and
residential sites. In fact, techs say that even before the license
was required, they referred most complex or involved electrical
work to licensed electricians.
But instead of differentiating between pool wiring and the main
breaker panel, the attorney general’s new opinion draws an
entirely different distinction — between all residential and
commercial electrical work.
For example, the opinion would consider work on a 5-hp motor in a
residential backyard to be legal, but would consider work on the
exact same 5-hp motor at an apartment complex to be outside the
scope of the RAI license. For techs whose income depends on small
and mid-sized commercial clients, this could represent a
significant setback in the road to licensing.
That’s why APEC’s lobbyists are planning to raise
discussion about the opinion in this year’s legislative
“APEC respects the opinion, but strongly disagrees with the
limited review and technical reading that led to the
conclusion,” said Jake Posey, a lobbyist for the group.
“We — and thousands of pool professionals across the
state — look forward to obtaining relief from the