Over the course of just the past eighteen months, the National Institute for
Uniform Licensing of Power Engineers (NIULPE) has emerged under new leadership,
with new direction, new alliances and a future that could finally usher in an
international licensing program for power engineers.
Just a few years ago, the future of a national power engineer’s license,
let alone an international one, seemed bleak as the NIULPE board of directors
into two separate factions and turmoil ensued that cast doubt over the future
of the entire program. Then, in 2004, leadership of the program changed hands
once again with the election of Pittsburgh, PA businessman Timothy Butler as
the national president for the organization.
The NIULPE logo reminds everyone that they stand for safety, education and standards.
Since taking over the leadership of NIULPE, Butler has put the program not
only back on track, but also on a fast track to reshape the licensing program
expand it across international borders. The latest expansion of NIULPE, announced
in June of this year, will extend recognition of NIULPE licenses between Canada
and the U.S. With new oil exploration expanding the opportunity for power engineers
in Canada, the country is actually experiencing a shortage of qualified job
applicants for positions that can garner up to six figure salaries. With a
of recognition now established between Canada and the U.S., the door is opening
for U.S. NIULPE license owners to head north and fill some of those vacant
NIULPE is working for uniform licensing across international borders.
Even more ambitious is a plan for NIULPE to expand its licensing program
to encompass Combined Cycle Plant Operator, Refrigeration Plant Operator, Electric
Plant Operator, Steam Turbine Operator and Gas Turbine Operator testing and
licensing. Outlined for the Chief Engineer at a recent NIULPE national board
Calgary, Canada, the plan calls for maintaining the Power Engineer licensing
program at its core, but also recognizes the needs of operators who work in
specific areas of industry and may not have an interest in progressing to the
The certification program follows a natural progression of licensing. Part A.
"This approach allows us to address the needs of specific industries such
as power generation," Butler said. "Owners of power generation plants
are keenly interested in having their employees proven competent as operators
of their industry specific equipment," he explained. "This new approach
will provide just that."
NIULPE also unveiled plans to establish licensing programs for Hot Water
Generation Operators, Water Treatment Plant Operators, Waste Water Plant Operators,
Operators, Compressor Plant Operators and Diesel Plant Operators.
Already the oldest and largest national licensing program for Power Engineers,
the inception of a reciprocity agreement with Canada will add thousands of
NIULPE licensees to the roster and propel the program onto the global stage.
Certification Progression Part B.
According to Butler, meetings have already taken place relating to the U.K.,
Australia, and Mexico as well as Latin and South America where NIULPE licensing
programs will soon be established and affiliated with the U.S. national NIULPE
"We have to recognize that we now operate in a global environment," Butler
said. "Air pollution doesn’t recognize national boundaries and if we want
to address environmental change and public safety through proper operation
of boilers and large industrial equipment, we have to expand efficient standardized
certifications into the new industrialized nations around the globe."
Timothy Butler, NIULPE National Board President makes a point during a meeting to address national licensing criteria held in Calgary, AB.
Meeting with Butler in Calgary, were David Winchell, Paul Dubbeld, Samuel
Lambert, Jack Arnold, David Burkhard, Neil Masterson, Bob Clarke and John Siggers,
serve on the NIULPE national board of directors.
Invited to attend, the Chief Engineer was allowed to engage in a frank and
open discussion with all the NIULPE national board members on what can only
as a phenomenal turnaround. Our first question to this board was just what
has changed with the administration of the program?
"We became a totally transparent organization," Butler responded. "We
have thrown open the doors to not only all NIULPE license holders, but to industry,
education and other organizations within the power industry."
NIULPE national board members convene in Calgary, AB, to map out international reciprocity issues that will make the licensing program global.
Butler went on to explain that for most of its history, the board members
and leadership on NIULPE were never fully accessible to licensees and others.
everything from the financial status to the business addresses of every NIULPE
official is available to licensees and their industry and government partners.
"Anyone who has invested their time and money in obtaining a license or
certification should have the right to full disclosure of who directs the program
and where the licensees money goes," Butler said. "NIULPE intends to
be accountable to those license holders and to our industry and government partners
throughout the country," he said.
The Chief Engineer asked just how service to licensees has improved?
"To begin with," Butler said, "you have to understand that a few
years ago competing groups began rumors that NIULPE was no longer in business.
That misinformation caused a great deal of anxiety to a lot of innocent license
holders who were actually being hustled to simply buy other licenses from these
"You mean that other groups simply sold licenses without requiring the candidate
to examine for competency?" the Chief Engineer asked.
"That is true of some groups," Butler said. "They just told people
that if they had a NIULPE license, they could get one of their licenses without
taking any test at all."
Jack Arnold, long-time NIULPE national board member has been most instrumental in spreading NIULPE internationally.
"How did this impact NIULPE?" the Chief Engineer asked.
"It didn’t impact upon us as much as it impacted upon the thousands of license
holders who were not being given correct information on how to renew their NIULPE
license," Butler responded.
"How did you respond to this?" we asked.
"We completely updated our website and installed a toll-free national telephone
and fax number for our licensees," Butler said. "The first week we
installed the toll-free line, I personally returned over 400 phone calls to
license holders asking us if the rumors they were hearing were true."
"We also responded to hundreds of emails that came in to the website," David
Sam Lambert (left) and Bob Clark discuss international reciprocity with other NIULPE national board members.
Both Butler and Winchell stated that these calls and emails of distress
have now stopped and the licensing program and testing of applicants
seamlessly throughout the U.S.
"Do you have plans to address your licensees about what happened and those
who may have been involved in spreading false rumors about NIULPE?" we
"In the very near future," Butler said, "we will be posting the
names of everyone who holds a valid NIULPE license directly on our website.
That way, licensees can see that many of the very people who were spreading rumors
about NIULPE were, at the same time, keeping their own NIULPE license current."
We asked the board about the issue of reciprocity with NIULPE licenses.
"The entire issue of reciprocity is presently under review," Butler
said. "There have been many organizations out there claiming to have reciprocity
with NIULPE and that is simply not true. Although some groups sell licenses to
people holding NIULPE licenses, it is important for the people buying these licenses
to realize they cannot obtain a NIULPE license in exchange for another license
unless there is a formal agreement between NIULPE and the other licensing entity," he
Butler added that all current reciprocity agreements would be reviewed
and updated with written agreements. "Reciprocity must mean a two-way street," he
said. "They have to recognize the NIULPE license and their examination
must be equal to an appropriate NIULPE license before we consent to reciprocity."
"What other plans are in the works for NIULPE?" we asked.
"We will have a complete Spanish and Portuguese language examination package
for our Latin and South American counterparts soon," Butler said, "and
we will be introducing examinations directly online through the Internet very
soon," he concluded.
"How will the online examinations work?" we asked.
"Under supervision by a proctor, the candidate will go directly online to
NIULPE, take the examination and receive their results immediately," Butler
For many years the Chief Engineer has reported on and followed
the movement to institute a national licensing program for Power
U.S. Recognizing the need to allow qualified Power Engineers
to operate in various
running into unique municipal and state laws barring them from
making a living, the Chief Engineer has become an advocate for
to certify the competency of Power Engineers that would be recognized
Upon ending our meeting with the NIULPE Board of Directors in
Calgary, we felt that we had finally found that method and
work. The NIULPE license is the only national license we recommend
every Power Engineer obtain for their future.