Technical Standards Committee "A" (TSC "A")
The USDA Rural Development Electric Programs has found that electric utility construction, operation, and maintenance are best when high-quality, long-lasting materials are used. Because the quality of materials is so important to program objectives, the Electric Programs continue to require that borrowers observe Electric Programs standards and use Technical Standards Committee "A" (Electric) accepted products on their systems whether they use USDA Rural Development loan funds, their own general funds, or other sources of financing assistance.
What is Technical Standards Committee "A?"
Technical Standards Committee "A" (Electric) (referred to as Committee "A") is an Electric Program committee which:
- accepts manufacturers' products as satisfactory for use on borrowers' facilities, and
- approves all Electric Program standards and specifications, including standard construction drawings, and technical bulletins and Informational Publications. Membership of Committee "A" consists of five engineers: two from the Regional Division Engineering branches, two from the Electric Staff Division (ESD), and a permanent Committee Chair.
Committee "A" considers requests from manufacturers and makes determinations as to whether the products comply with applicable Electric Program and national industry standards and specifications and if the products can be expected to perform satisfactorily in the harsh environments of rural America.
For borrower convenience purposes, materials and equipment accepted by Committee "A" that meet the domestic origin provisions are included in Informational Publication 202-1, "List of Materials Acceptable for Use on Systems of USDA Rural Development Electrification Borrowers."
The List of Materials is available here. It is no longer available in printed copy.
Domestic Origin Provision
Domestic origin means manufactured in the United States or any eligible country substantially all from materials or supplies mined, produced, or manufactured in the United States or any eligible country. Eligible countries are determined by the Office of the US Trade Representative. See Federal Register Notice published November 16, 2001 for the list of eligible countries. Additional information and the definition of eligible country are contained in the Federal Register Notice published February 18, 1997. Information is also available on the Electric Program Eligible Countries page. Information on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Implementation Act is contained in the Federal Register Notice published January 6, 1994.
For your reference, Bulletin 43-9, Buy American Provision (July 28, 1955) is available.
Types of RUS Acceptances
TSC "A" considers three types of acceptances:
- FULL ACCEPTANCE
Domestic origin products for which no restrictions are placed on use. Included in the List of Materials;
- CONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE
Domestic products for which the Electric Programs has limited experience. Acceptance conditions are noted on acceptance letter to manufacturer and in the List of Materials. Contractors also need to obtain borrowers' approvals before supplying conditionally accepted items on each project; and
- TECHNICAL ACCEPTANCE
Non-domestic origin products of the same category types as accepted domestic origin products. Technically accepted products: a) may have conditions, b) are limited to a one year acceptance after which yearly renewal is considered, and c) are not included in the List of Materials. The technical acceptance letter issued indicates any conditions and date of technical acceptance expiration. Contractors need borrowers' approvals to supply technically accepted items on each project.
Categories of Accepted Products
Committee "A" determines the categories of products for which acceptance is considered. Committee "A" does not grant acceptance for every type of product used by Electric Programs borrowers. Instead, Committee "A" considers only categories of products central to electric transmission and distribution systems for which fairly significant use by borrowers is expected, e.g., air break switches, anchor rods, transformers, etc. Acceptance is not considered nor is it needed for office equipment, tools and work equipment, items of electric general plant, consumer-owned wiring facilities, etc. Borrowers are expected to use their own best judgment when procuring such items and assess the conformance of such products with applicable national industry standards, codes, and applicability of the product for the need. Categories are added and eliminated as conditions of borrower use and technology dictate.
Product Acceptance Procedure
The manufacturer of a product that falls within a product acceptance category desiring acceptance needs to submit a letter of request to:
Technical Standards Committee "A"
USDA Rural Development Electric Programs
1400 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20250-1569
Telephone: 202-720-0980 Fax: 202-720-7491
(Deliveries by other than US Postal Service should be directed to Room 1246.)
The manufacturer needs to include the following with each request:
- Description of each product, including specific catalog number and
the item category for which acceptance is requested;
- Drawings or catalog sheets detailing dimensions, materials, etc.;
- Recent certified test data detailing compliance of the product with
appropriate standards, specifications, etc.
- A sample of each product for most items. [Chair of Technical Standards
Committee should be contacted prior to submitting any samples];
- address of the manufacturing facilities; and
- If seeking domestic product acceptance, a statement of origin that
reads as follows:
- "[Identify here each product to be considered by catalog
number] is manufactured in [Identify country] substantially all
from articles, materials or supplies mined, produced or manufactured
in [identify country]."
The manufacturer should contact the Rural Development Electric Programs for specific requirements for a particular type of equipment or material.
All written and printed material has to be submitted in one hard copy and one electronic file (preferably in Adobe pdf format). Requests need to be signed by an authorized representative of the manufacturer. The Electric Programs does permit agents to assist with certain administrative matters, but applications have to include an original signature of the manufacturer.
Personnel in ESD are assigned to review applications and prepare reports to Committee "A." The ESD reviewer will contact the manufacturer if any additional information is needed in order to prepare a report to Committee "A."
The manufacturer's application and the product's corresponding RUS staff report are presented to Technical Standards Committee "A" for acceptance consideration. Following discussions of the application, Technical Standards Committee "A" may act to: (1) grant any of the three types of acceptance described previously, (2) table consideration until receipt of any additional information Technical Standards Committee "A" deems necessary to make a determination, or (3) reject the request. The Chair will provide the manufacturer with written notice of the decision of Technical Standards Committee "A."
Manufacturers may appeal any adverse Technical Standards Committee "A" decisions by writing to Technical Standards Committee "B" (Electric) (TSC "B") at USDA Rural Development Electric Programs, 1400 Independence Ave SW, Stop 1569, Washington, DC 20250-1569.
Questions concerning the acceptance process may be directed to the Chair of Technical Standards Committee at the address above or by e-mail to: Norris Nicholson@wdc.usda.gov. Please include your name, e-mail address, telephone number, and company affiliation in the body of your message so that we may be able to contact you for additional information, if necessary.