The State Board of Electricity was established on July 8, 1899, to provide for public safety in the rapidly expanding use of electricity. The first board was comprised of five members, with its first meeting taking place on July 18, 1899. This board established a requirement for registration and licensing of individuals who installed various types of electrical work in counties with a population of more than 125,000 persons. In 1937, electrical licensing became mandatory statewide. Due to the electrification of greater Minnesota, the requirement for inspection of electrical installations spread statewide in 1951. In 1967, the law was changed to require licensing, bonding, insurance and employment of a master electrician for electrical contractors, whereas previously a bonded master electrician could operate a business performing electrical work. Due to the proliferation of power-limited electrical installations, alarm and communication contractor licensing was established in 1985.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed an executive order on April 4, 2005, which transferred a number of construction-code-related organizations to the Department of Labor and Industry. The Board of Electricity was included in the reorganization. As a result of the consolidation, the Department of Labor and Industry is responsible for administration and enforcement of the laws and rules regulating the licensing of electricians and inspection of electrical installations statewide, except for cities that have by ordinance established a program for performing electrical inspections. To ensure public safety, the law generally requires that all electrical work be performed by or under the personal supervision of licensed persons. Examination and licensing requirements help to ensure the competence of the individuals licensed by the department. In addition, the law generally requires that all electrical work be inspected for compliance with nationally recognized electrical safety standards. (There are some limited exemptions from both licensing and inspection). The combined requirements for electrical licensing and electrical inspection help to ensure that the public will be reasonably protected from fire and life safety hazards arising from the use of electricity.
The 2007 legislative session established a Board of Electricity to adopt the electrical code and any amendments, adopt rules that regulate the licensure or registration of the electrical industry and issue final interpretations of the electrical code.
There are 12 Electrical Area Representatives who monitor the 76 electrical inspectors who are independent contractors providing contract inspection service. There are approximately 33,000 licensed or registered workers and almost 4,000 active business licensees in 20 different electrical classifications. On a yearly basis, the department processes approximately 105,600 Request for Electrical Inspection forms and completes approximately 134,600 separate electrical inspections.