AOLP and local laws

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Mike & Lucia, Feb 21, 2007.

  1. Mike & Lucia

    Mike & Lucia LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    I have been told that there is a law here in NJ that requires an Electricians License to install any lighting operating above ten (10) volts. After visiting a couple of municipal building agencies, I was told to go ahead, no permits or licenses needed. However, I have heard that some localities are enforcing this state law, and the fines can be significant. I myself have seen licensed electricians make a total mess out of a low voltage system, but this thread is not about that, please.

    I want to know who has accurate knowledge about this issue, and what is the AOLP doing about it? Just yesterday and landscaper who does quite a bit of lighting called me to share his pain. He received a letter from the State of NJ Attorney General's office informing him that an action had been brought against his firm by the Board of Electrical Contractors, that he is operating in violation of the law. This is not going away by itself.

    Paul G - I am a member (although not active) of the LVLIA / AOLP. The website is two months behind! Who is working on this in NJ? How can I get involved without putting my head on the block? Who should I contact? Point the way...

    Steve P - Why is CAST so quiet on this? Your firm does a ton of business in your home state of NJ, if any of our manufacturers can help, I would think it could be (should be) CAST. The only answer I've every received from Cast or Aquarius is "check with your local municipality". Is it because you sell so many high voltage transformers? Is it because the truth would destroy your client base resulting in far fewer NJ sales?

    I understand that irrigation guys are exempted, they can work on their 24 volt control systems. Alarm guys can get a certification without going through the Electricians licensure process.

    Before this thing hurts us all, shuttering many of our businesses and sending us to unemployment, we need to get on the stick! AOLP needs to lead the way, manufacturers and distributors need to get behind us (maybe with some money?), and active LV lighting contractors need to take our heads out of the sand. There is strength in numbers, perhaps together we can make our voices heard and bring this issue to closure... something we can all live with.

    I eagerly await a response from all who are in the know.

  2. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    Mike, let me see what I can find out for you. This is exactly what I have been trying to get across to the people out there who design and install landscape lighting. The states are creating laws that effect our industry without understanding it. We (the AOLP) doesn't have sufficient numbers (membership) for the states to take us seriously. We want to be able to go to the states and say, look, if your going to require a license to install low voltage lighting, let us supply a test for you. This test is about low voltage landscape lighting only and would test the knowledge and skill of the installer in the field of low voltage landscape lighting. Not alarms, raceways, overhead power lines, etc, which is what most of the current tests have on them.

    We need membership!!! This is cheap!! People can make enough money on a small job to pay for the membership and not even notice it. I have made it a personal goal to increase membership by 100 this year. I know where this industry is and where it can go, but I can't take it there alone. With a strong membership of people that want to be involved, we can make local governments take notice of us.

    Once again, let me do some checking, in the mean time, here is the contact information for New Jersey so anyone can start checking on their own.

    Dept of Law and Public Safety, Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors
    PO Box 45006
    Newark, NJ7101
    Phone 973-504-6410
    Fax 973-648-3355
  3. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196


    You're absolutely right to be concerned and to wonder how to get these laws changed. In answer to your question about what CAST is doing, I'll give you a quick run-down.

    Starting last year, I've invested a good amount of time doing what I can to address the NJ law issues. I did an extensive research project to develop supportive documentation on the safety of landscape lighting. Armed with the facts, I had conversations with the legislative head of PLANET (he listened, but was too busy to help) and did an in-person presentation with Dave to the board of the NJLCA trying to get them to champion an effort to change the NJ law. I've also been working with George Beausoleil, founder of Aquarius Irrigation, who has been actively pursuing several avenues including discussions with lobbyists.

    While you're correct that enforcement of the NJ law hurts lighting manufacturers (and distributors), it is really the responsibility of the trade organizations like PLANET, NJLCA, AOLP and others to champion the effort. Lawmakers are beholden to their voting constituents (the contractors) so it is the contractors that need to make their voices heard.

    I strongly recommend that all NJ landscapers join the NJLCA and strongly encourage them to pursue this issue. The NJLCA has a legislative commitee (with a healthy budget) but their priorities are immigration and pesticide/herbicide issues.

    Since changing such a law is necessarily a local effort, I suggest the AOLP connect with the NJLCA (, Jason Sponzilli is President) and provide whatever support they can.

    Have no illusion, changing the law to give landscapers the right to do landscape lighting will be a tough battle; NJ electricians will fight tooth and nail to capture this growing business. Still, it is possible.

    In the meantime, we will continue to train landscapers. At our seminars, the best we can do is to advise contractors to check with their local inspectors and boards. In many places, the draconian NJ law is not enforced, still we understand the risk. It is definately advisable for all contractors to have a relationship with a licensed electrician. In some cases, the electrician may need to be the contractor of record.

    In addition, the contractor that Mike mentioned was targeted by the NJ Attorney General after they saw his ad in the Yellow Pages. I'm thinking, that it might be a good idea for landscape lighting companies to include their electrician's license number at the bottom of every ad.

    CAST also stands ready to provide whatever support we can for efforts to change these laws.
  4. High Performance Lighting

    High Performance Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    from So Cal
    Posts: 326

    I was asked to write an article on this very issue for a major landscape trade magazine. I posted in here
    a few months ago asking for input. I didn't get much response. The editor made the request of me with a very short deadline. Bottom line is I didn't have the info and the article never got written.
  5. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    Here is a quick follow up from this mornings post. I spoke with Mr. Mike Kukol with the NJLCA this morning and this is a hot issue in New Jersey right now. I am trying to reach a contractor in NJ and should here back from here tomorrow. There is a preliminary meeting date of March 8th regarding this issue and I hope we can have someone there.
  6. Mike & Lucia

    Mike & Lucia LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    Mike - I remember that request you made because I was eager to hear the responses. Chris at Nitliters mentioned the LVLIA website as a resource, which offers no help concerning NJ. I'm told you are from Jersey, or lived here at one time. Is that true? Are you coming east for Lightfair? It would be great to meet you and talk shop. Too bad about the article, perhaps we can get this thing heated up before some of us get iced!

    Steve - NJLCA nor PLANET, in my opinion, is going to prioritize this issue. Lighting is a small part of some of their members' businesses and none of most. Immigration and pesticide are at the top of their lists because they should be. LVLIA, now AOLP is the organization that needs to move this forward. With little representation here in NJ it will go no place, and low voltage lighting contractors will get steamrolled.

    If Cast put some money and resources behind a bona fide effort to organize locally maybe we could get something started. With the Aquarius customer list as a start, you can access some of the most active LV guys in the area. Combine that with the lists of other distributors and you might be able to put some muscle behind an organized effort. I have no idea how to go about changing this environment, but I'm in for trying.

    You guys sure know how to arrange a seminar, how about arranging a round table to discuss this amongst ourselves to start? Hell, it could breakout at one of Aquarius' boat rides. I'll pay for my own lunch.

    Paul - I appreciate your sincerity. I truly believe you are doing the right things for all the right reasons. I don't think, however, that the AOLP can build membership fast enough to make a difference in what will soon become a war zone (NJ). This needs to be a quick and effective organization of LV pros locally, where it hurts.

    What is the membership list in NJ, currently? I'd check on the website, but unfortunately.... well you know. I'd like to see a regional meeting of AOLP so the annual meeting in AZ isn't the only way to touch the organization. I'll look forward to more info from you.

    Please guys, jump in on this thread.
  7. High Performance Lighting

    High Performance Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    from So Cal
    Posts: 326

    "Mike - I remember that request you made because I was eager to hear the responses. Chris at Nitliters mentioned the LVLIA website as a resource, which offers no help concerning NJ. I'm told you are from Jersey, or lived here at one time. Is that true? Are you coming east for Lightfair? It would be great to meet you and talk shop. Too bad about the article, perhaps we can get this thing heated up before some of us get iced!"

    Mike I'm originally from Long Island, NY born and bred. Sorry I can't get away No Lightfair this year but I'll be in Vegas for next years. Sorry to hear about the trouble in jersey. I have aunts, uncles and cousins residing in the state. If it's anything like NY and they have strong unions it's going to be a tough fight. Too bad things aren't like the old days. You give Tony Soprano a call and your troubles disappear. Maybe someday we can sit down and have a cappucino.

    Mike G
  8. Mike & Lucia

    Mike & Lucia LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    Paul, March 8th is a regular scheduled NJLCA meeting. I have never been to that organization's meetings, but would definitely go if this topic is slated for some attention. What's happening there at this meeting? Who is your contact?

    Steve P - are your involved with this meeting at all?

  9. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    You can contact the chair of the legislative committee for the NJLCA. His name is Mike Kukol. The # for the NJLCA is 201-848-0022. Mike, it would be great if you could sit in on this meeting.
  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196

    I won't be attending the regular evening NJLCA mtg. on March 8th, but will be in separate meetings with them along with other manufacturers and distributors to get the ball rolling.

    While a game plan has yet to be developed, I'm guessing that March will be an active month and all NJ landscape lighting designers will be invited to participate in some way.

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