Two wind farm developers to build a new wind farm in the Dakotas
Global Winds Harvest, Inc. and UPC Wind Partners, LLC will co-develop a $500 million wind farm project in Dickey County, ND and McPherson County, SD. Global Winds and UPC plan to install 480 MW of state of the art wind turbines, or enough electricity to power roughly 110,000 homes.
The partnership is the latest phase of a project that started in 1999 when Global Winds investigated the potential of wind farm development in the Dakotas. “Everyone knows the Dakotas have an excellent wind resource,” Wilen said. “In fact, the Department of Energy rates North Dakota as having the highest wind resource in the United States, enough to provide 36% of our nation’s energy.”
Furthermore, Wilen said, “From the many discussions that we have had with landowners and local government over the past 3 years, we have learned that people want wind turbines on their property. In today’s depressed farm economy, wind development allows the farmer to gain a ‘second crop’ and this land can still be farmed or ranched!”
Wilen also mentioned other benefits of wind farms for the local communities, such as increased employment and tax revenue. GWH and UPC submitted a joint bid last month to Northern States Power/Xcel Energy for two different wind power projects in the Dakotas totaling 480 MW’s. When built, the projects will be among the largest in the country. Interconnection for the projects will occur at two high tension power lines located in Dickey County. The project has applied for interconnection into the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) and Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) transmission systems. The interconnection studies with MISO and WAPA have commenced.
Both Global Winds and UPC have extensive experience in wind farm development. Global Winds is currently developing a further 1,000 MW of wind farm projects in eight states, and draws on the experience of its principals, who have developed over 300 MW of successful wind power projects. UPC, founded by the principals of Cannon Power Corporation of Tehachipi, California - one of the earliest and most successful U.S. wind power companies - has projects in operation or development all over the world. In March 2000, UPC realized the world's largest project financing for wind power. At almost $400 million, the financing broke all previous records for the amount of money raised in a single financing involving wind power. Caffyn ascribes UPC's success to a variety of factors. "Unlike some large utilities which have gotten into the wind business recently, wind power has always been our focus." Caffyn said that UPC is not only the wind project developer, but also an owner and operator. "Because we have a long term strategy, local partnerships are very important to us. We are very proud of our track record with local landowners and other community stakeholders. It is a big part of the reason we have been so successful," Caffyn said.

Black Box Corp. targets new technical service at the home-networking market
Black Box announced a new technical service targeted at the home networking market: Black Box Home Networking Technical Support.

Initially, this new service will be test marketed in the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. Based upon the results of this pilot program, Black Box will roll out home networking technical services throughout the United States.
A Black Box Home Network will enhance homeowners' high-speed Internet service by allowing shared, simultaneous access in multiple locations within their home without the need for costly multiple service lines. Families will now be able to experience the same speed, accessibility, and reliability of a commercial or school network -- all in the comfort of their own home.
Blaine Kriebel, Marketing Manager for Black Box Home Networking said, "Currently, the home networking market is a growing multi-billion-dollar industry that is serviced by a very fragmented group of local service providers. What Black Box brings to the home market is our unique One Source concept that we currently market to our commercial clients. As One Source, Black Box provides all the products and technical services needed to design, install, and maintain a home network."
Kriebel said his company's mission is to demystify home networking.

"Today, the market is very confused because of the lack of standards and a proven national technical service leader. Black Box will now provide the homeowner with the required technical services to help design, install, and maintain a cost-effective home network including desktop computer network support."
Black Box's desktop computer network support provides homeowners' with quick and easy access to home networking experts who can answer their questions. Whether the networking issue is hardware or software related -- clients only make one phone call.
Black Box Home Networking Services will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Homeowners can simply call 724-746-5500 to solve their problems over the phone or, if required, to schedule in-home design consultation.

Housing starts slide in March after seeing record increase in February

Finishing up an exceptionally strong first quarter in which housing proved to be a significant growth factor for the national economy, nationwide housing starts retreated 7.8% to a healthy seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.65 million units in March, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Washington, D.C., said the drop was expected and that it came on the heels of the best month for new-home production in more than three years.
“Today’s report shows housing production is right in line with our forecasts, and the decline is certainly no cause for alarm in the housing industry,” said Gary Garczynski, president of the NAHB and a builder/developer from Woodbridge, Va. “Thanks to extraordinarily good weather and financing conditions early in the year, single-family housing starts reached their highest level in more than 20 years this February, at 1.47 million units. That pace of activity was unsustainable in terms of underlying demographic demand.”
March’s decline in housing starts was confined to the single-family sector, where production slowed 11.4% to a rate of 1.3 million units. Multifamily housing starts rallied in March, rising nearly 9% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 343,000 units. The rise in apartment building was entirely responsible for a 15.5% gain in housing starts registered in the Northeast, while every other region recorded declines in overall housing production. In the South, the shortfall was almost 13%, while in the Midwest it was 7% and in the West it was 6.2%.
Housing permits, which can be an indicator of future building activity, also fell in March, by about 10% overall to a 1.6 million-unit rate. Single-family permits were down 10.2% to 1.2 million units, while multifamily permits were down 8.6% to 361,000 units. “These are still quite good numbers,” Garczynski said. “For the year as a whole, we’re on pace to produce about 1.64 million new housing units, up by about 2% from last year.” Mr. Electric hires former Ace Hardware executive Bill Moore as regional manager

Bill Moore, a former marketing executive with Ace Hardware Corporation, has joined Mr. Electric, the world's largest electrical service and repair franchise, as a California-based regional manager for the rapidly growing franchise network.
For the past six years, Moore managed national marketing, advertising, corporate communications and public relations functions for the Fortune 500 company and its 5,000 independently owned locations.
In his new role for Mr. Electric, Moore will borrow from his extensive background of counseling small-business owners in all aspects of business operations to assist the franchise in its next phase of national growth. He brings to Mr. Electric more than 28 years of experience in financial planning, successful retail practices, advertising and marketing, competitive positioning and strategies for profitable growth.
“Bill’s expertise is unsurpassed,” said Tom Buckley, president of Mr. Electric. “He joins our company at the perfect time as we seek to support our franchise owners at the grassroots level and continue to build our rapidly-growing network.”
Moore is a graduate of the University of New Orleans, where he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration; and a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he earned a master’s in business administration. He currently resides with his wife, Kathy, in Sonoma County, Calif. Encompass inks deal with Colliers International for building services

Encompass Services Corp., Houston, will provide electrical, plumbing, voice/data, mechanical and custodial services for Colliers International, Boston, a global real estate services organization, and its corporate real estate clients. Colliers is one of the largest global real estate firms, managing 465 million square feet of property internationally. The agreement will enable the two firms to offer one-stop delivery of integrated real estate, brokerage, facility management support and operational services on a national basis. “Clients with multiple locations across the nation need only to make one phone call to develop a solution to meet all their real estate and facilities operational needs, said David Bowden, executive managing director of Corporate Services with Colliers. David Koester, vice president of Business Development with Encompass Business Solutions, said the agreement is based on the trend in Corporate America to move to single outsource providers of real estate, facility management and operational services. General Cable joins Graybar’s epoint program for voice/data contractors

General Cable, Highland Heights, Ky., has signed on with St. Louis-based Graybar Electric Co. for that company’s epoint program, which offers voice/data contractors a choice of more than 2,000 incentive awards when they purchase featured products provided by participating manufacturers. A different selection of products will qualify to earn epoints each quarter. As a selected manufacturer, General Cable will offer eligible contractors an opportunity to earn epoints when they purchase its line of cabling solutions, including enhanced Category 6 Command Linx 6 and Category 5e Platinum Plus unshielded twisted-pair cables.

Philips Lighting to lose 430 jobs in Europe

Dutch electronics company Royal Philips Electronics NV plans to reorganize its lighting plants in the Netherlands and cut 430 jobs there “to ensure competitiveness in the changed economic circumstances,” according to a report on Dow Jones Newswires. The reorganization affects plants in Oss, Eindhoven, Deurne/Maarheeze and Roosendaal, Netherlands. The biggest cuts will take place at the Oss plant, where 243 workers will lose their jobs. That facility will focus on high-technology development, and will move a much of its product manufacturing to Philips’ plants in Poland. The Roosendaal plant, which manufactures fluorescent lamps and other energy-saving lamps, will cut 25 jobs. Philips said it plans to make investments at this facility to increase efficiency. AMP/Tyco forms strategic alliance with iTRACS Corp. to develop new structured system

AMP/Tyco Electronics, Harrisburg and iTRACS Corp., Chicago, will develop, market and sell an intelligent structured cabling solution combining Tyco Electronics’ AMP NetConnect premises cabling systems with iTRACS’ real-time infrastructure management system. The joint solution will enable enterprise customers to minimize network downtime, reduce IT staff workload, and streamline moves, adds and changes (MACs) by automating the management of the physical layer. It also provides security to the physical layer as well as a complete up-to-date documentation set as the basis for troubleshooting and disaster recovery preparedness. “There is a growing demand in the marketplace for intelligent structured cabling, and aligning with iTRACS Corp. will enable us to meet that demand with a mature sixth-generation network monitoring system that offers more flexibility and functionality than most competitive product,” said Charlie Fox, general manager for the AMP NetConnectgroup of Tyco Electronics. “By allowing us to tap into the retrofit market as well as our installed customer base, iTRACS gives us the ability to reap the maximum business benefits from our entry into the infrastructure management space.”

PDA market to grow 18% this year

You will be probably see more customers pecking away at personal digital assistants (PDAs) during the next year, according to a new research report available from San Jose, Calif.-based Dataquest Inc., a unit of Stamford, Conn.-based research firm that’s a division of the Gartner Group Inc. Dataquest expects15.5 million PDAs to be shipped this year, up 18 percent from 2001, and said the first half of the year would continue to see effects from the economic slump. However, the consulting firm expects the economy to pick up in the second half of 2002, with stronger growth in the PDA market in 2003. To obtain a copy of the report titled “PDA Forecast Scenarios: 1Q02,” contact Dataquest at (203) 316-1111.

Silicon Valley maintains ranking as ‘most wired’ area in nation

Silicon Valley still rules the wired world, but Boston and Salt Lake City made huge strides in a recent survey of America’s most Internet-savvy cities by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine. Boston jumped 12 places to No. 4 on this year’s list, published in the magazine’s May issue. Salt Lake City jumped 23 places to sixth, though the magazine said it could be a one-time spike caused by the recent Winter Olympics. San Francisco; San Jose, California; and Austin, Texas, maintained their grip on the top three spots, which they’ve held in all but one of the five surveys. Don Willmott, the magazine’s technology editor, said the magazine uses a formula that measures more than just Internet use and high-tech jobs to get a sense of which communities make the most of the Web. Willmott said analysis includes basic statistics, the extent to which businesses are online and the sophistication of the users. “We measure that by how often they shop and how many have gotten fast access,” he said.

Forrester study predicts drop in 2002 spending on e-business infrastructure

Spending on e-business technologies will drop to three percent of revenue in 2002 from an average of 3.5 percent in 2001, according to a study released by Forrester Research Inc, Cambridge. The study, which took the pulse of about 900 high-level information technology executives and business decision-makers at 3,500 companies businesses with more than $1 billion in revenue, found that the average 2002 e-business technology budget is $29 million, compared with $41 million in 2001. It also found that business executives expect a more significant drop in spending than their IT colleagues do. The study said that compared with 2001, 23 percent fewer companies will consider purchasing hardware for servers, networks and data storage. Meanwhile, fewer than half the companies surveyed will consider purchasing enterprise software for applications such as customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, supply chain and procurement in 2002. Grainger donates $25,000 to national Minority Supplier Development Council

W.W. Grainger Inc., Chicago, will donate $25,000 donation to the National Minority Supplier Development Council’s (NMSDC) Advanced Management Education Program. The Advanced Management Education Program is held annually at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and provides minority business enterprises with tools and skills needed to achieve and sustain accelerated growth. Grainger’s contribution marks the second consecutive year the company has participated in this program. “Diversity is an essential component of business today,” said Richard L. Keyser, chairman and CEO, Grainger. “We are committed to helping foster diversity within our industry, through our participation in the NMSDC’s professional development opportunities for minority-owned businesses.” Black Box Corp. reports lower earnings for its fiscal fourth-quarter

Black Box Corp., Lawrence, Pa., reported that its earning per share for its fiscal fourth quarter ending March 31, 2002 will be between 71 cents and 72 cents, prior to a one-time restructuring charge. Corresponding net income as a percent of revenue is expected to be between 9.4 percent and 9.5 percent. Revenue is expected to be approximately $160 million for the fourth quarter and $743 million for the 2002 fiscal year. Fred C. Young, the company’s CEO, said although the company was expecting revenue levels consistent with past trends, this did not happen. “Our revenue levels have remained constant for each of the past four months, starting from calendar December 2001. This is hopefully a sign of a bottom that we can build upon moving forward.” Industry Statistics: February increase in single-family starts strongest in 20 years

Overall housing starts rose 2.8% in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.77 million units, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The gain was due entirely to the single-family sector, where starts rose 7.4% to a rate of 1.46 million units--their fastest pace since December, 1978.
Multi-family starts, typically more volatile, retreated 14.3% to an annual rate of 312,000 units, partially offsetting a substantial gain registered in January. Starts rose in three out of four regions in February. The West’s gain of 14% was the largest, while the Midwest and South posted more moderate gains of 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively. The Northeast was the exception to the rule, with a 9.3% decline that followed a sizeable increase in January.
“These exceptionally strong numbers, combined with upwardly revised figures for January and December, are ample evidence that housing, specifically residential fixed investment, is helping pull the economy out of recession,” said Gary Garczynski, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a builder/developer from Woodbridge, Va.
Building permits, which can be an indicator of future building activity, also rose in February. The volume of permits increased nearly 2% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.75 million units. Single-family permits rose 2.7% to a rate of 1.37 million units, while multi-family permits declined 1.3% to a rate of 381,000 units. Both were up from their fourth-quarter 2001 averages. Regionally, permits rose in all but the Midwest in February.
Nationwide study shows that consumers want networked homes; security systems tops the list

Indianapolis, IN - Survey results released today by the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) confirm that home networking is top-of-mind among most Americans, with home security systems topping the list of important custom electronic features for their homes and families.
More than 1,000 U.S. adults, ages 18 years and older, were surveyed in a weekend poll by RoperASW. Eighty-three percent of the survey respondents said that they would be interested in installing some type of custom electronic system in their homes. Additionally, 86 percent of the respondents said they would seek the help of a qualified and certified technician to install a home networking system in their homes.
CEDIA, the world’s leading association dedicated to the custom electronic design and installation industry, released these results prior to the International Builders’ Show to demonstrate how this growing trend will affect the home building industry as more and more homeowners are looking to integrate these systems into their lives. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), 34 percent of builders now offer structured wiring packages as standard or optional amenities.
Thirty-one percent of the respondents said they considered a centralized home security system the most important home networking system. Other systems ranked as follows:

  • Home theater systems: 19 %
  • Automated lighting systems: 12%
  • Automated window shades: 11%
  • Automated audio and video systems: 10%
  • Not interested in home networking: 14%
  • No response: 3%

CEDIA Unveils consumer survey results
“These survey results confirm what our member companies have been telling us for some time. Home networking is becoming more important to the consumer and is a trend that will continue to grow as more and more homeowners recognize the safety, comfort, convenience and energy savings a networked home can bring,” said Billilynne Keller, CEDIA executive director. “Even more important, these survey results demonstrate that our goal of educating and certifying custom electronic designers and installers is as important to our membership as it is to the consumer.”
Home security was equally important to female respondents as male respondents, whereas home theaters were more important to male respondents than female respondents. Female respondents are more likely to favor automated lighting systems throughout the home. CEDIA Boot Camp teaches custom installation fundamentals; registrations are still being accepted for sessions II and III

The Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) recently completed its first CEDIA Boot Camp for 2002 at the new CEDIA Training Center in Indianapolis. The three-day training course armed custom electronic installers, designers and manufacturers with the most up-to-date custom installation techniques.
CEDIA Boot Camp, launched in 1997, provides comprehensive hands-on training for new hires and veterans who have a professional interest in the custom electronic design and installation industry, with the added opportunity to achieve CEDIA certification through the Installer Level 1 Exam. Participants gain powerful insight on everything from wiring basics to writing winning proposals, to the latest in custom installation and low voltage techniques. The course and skills-based training, designed by some of the industry’s most experienced installers, combine short lectures with hands-on workshops. Key concepts, definitions, techniques and procedures are drilled repeatedly throughout the course.
Due to the hands-on nature of the material, registration for each CEDIA Boot Camp session is limited. Those interested in attending sessions II and III are encouraged to register on-line at www.cedia.org. Additional Boot Camp programs will be held in Indianapolis later this year, April 10-12 and June 3-5.
“Qualified professionals are so important to our ever-growing industry. More and more employees are being hired for work ethics and personality and are then being trained in the field,” said Nicholas Pasyanos, CEDIA’s director of operations. “CEDIA Boot Camp is an important step in achieving a comprehensive education and training in the custom installation business. Not only is Boot Camp an ideal educational opportunity for new hires, but we are training manufacturers and veteran industry professionals with up-to-date and relevant industry techniques.”
For additional information on CEDIA Boot Camp, including a training schedule and/or directions to the CEDIA Training Center, call 1-800-669-5329.