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Ann, great question! The answer will also provide an opportunity to discuss a Code change for the 2023 NEC®. Section 300.14 has been revised for the 2023 edition and now includes text indicating that the 6 inches of required free conductor is permitted to be spliced or un-spliced. Up until the 2023 edition, the code has been silent on this, resulting in inconsistent enforcement. With the new language the intent is clear. It also proves your coworker as being correct.
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