Dec. 30, 2002

Rockwell Automation offers PLC training at Texas tech schools

Employees of Texas manufacturers interested in learning about programmable and small logic controllers now need look no further than Texas State Technical Colleges (TSTC) for training. In conjunction with donating $400,000 in training simulators to the tech schools throughout the Lone Star state, Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, will offer courses on PLCs and SLCs at TSTC facilities.

The manufacturer has trained and certified a group of TSTC instructors who will teach the courses at the Abilene, Dalla, El Paso, Harlingen, Richmond, San Antonio, and Sweetwater campuses. Based on the success of the program, Rockwell may develop further training programs at the schools.



Dec. 30, 2002

NECA releases standard for installing busways

NECA recently released NECA 408-2002, “Recommended Practice for Installing Busways,” the latest in its series of National Electrical Installation Standards. It covers feeder and plug-in busways rated 600VAC or less and 100A or more. This is the 19th publication in the NEIS series.

The standard is available for $25 to NECA members through the association at (301) 215-4504 or orderdesk@necanet.org.



Dec. 20, 2002

Plans unveiled for World Trade Center rebuild


The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC) unveiled Wednesday proposals for new buildings to replace the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the September 11 attacks. Seven international architecture and design firms were chosen from more than 400 that presented plans to LDMC. This was the second round of proposals for the site; the first group of designs was met with a lackluster response.

Four of the seven designs propose the construction of the world’s tallest structures. Each of the proposals includes a memorial to those killed in the attacks. The work created by the project could not come sooner for New York electrical workers who have watched the unemployment rate for their industry rise to 15% in the past month.

The final plans will be chosen by Jan. 31.



Dec. 18, 2002

Early Christmas for Ranken College as Siemens provides $100K in equipment

The Industrial Electricity and Electronics Technology program at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis recently got a boost when Siemens Energy & Automation, Alpharetta, Ga., outfitted it with $100,000 worth of new industrial control products. The equipment will be moved to the college’s renovated 2,500-sq-ft industrial electronics lab in early 2003.

Part of an industry/academic partnership between Ranken and Siemens, the new equipment includes industrial motors, motor controls, operator panels, power distribution systems, and automation components. The company will also provide training for Ranken faculty and staff.



Dec. 18, 2002

Square D celebrates a century
in the electrical industry

Where’s Willard Scott when you need him? Square D missed out on the portly weatherman’s birthday wishes as it celebrated its centennial this week. The Palatine, Ill.-based manufacturer is the flagship brand of Schneider Electric in the United States.

Chris C. Richardson, president and CEO of the North American division of Schneider Electric, says that the company’s priorities haven’t changed, despite changes to industry’s landscape. “Electrical safety has always been a major priority for us, and new technologies we’re introducing to improve electrical energy conservation and to support the distribution and control of alternative electrical energy production make this business more critical than ever.”

The company began 100 years ago when Bryson D. Horton and James B. McCarthy formed the McBride Manufacturing Co. in Detroit. Their first order for 1,000 cartridge-type electrical fuses was filled in an 18-ft x 40-ft room the pair had rented.

Square D is now a part of Paris-based Schneider Electric, a $9 billion company with branches in more than 130 countries.



Dec. 16, 2002

Encompass secures loan
during Chapter 11 proceedings

Scrambling to stay afloat as it continues Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, Encompass Services Corp. has secured debtor-in-possession financing and additional bonding capacity to use during its reorganization process. Several financial institutions reportedly signed a deal with the Houston-based contractor that would provide it with $60 million in liquidity.

The company has also reached agreements with its primary surety bond providers for access to $60 million in additional bonding capacity, of which the company has already drawn $20 million. An additional $150 million is available, but the money is subject to the company meeting certain collateral requirements and contingent upon the approval of the bank group.

Encompass was named the second largest contractor in the United States in 2002 by CEE News.



Dec. 16, 2002

Lighting Controls Association white papers help lighting designers go green

With corporate budgets continuing to tighten, energy efficiency remains a hot topic for lighting architects, and the Lighting Controls Association has responded by publishing four new white papers to help the cause. All four are available for free from the association’s Web site and are authored by Craig DiLouie, who has written three books on lighting management.

The papers cover a range of topics concerning energy efficiency and “green” design:

  • “New Tax Deduction Will Reward Energy Efficiency” – Passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2002 would provide for rewards in the form of tax deductions for those who exceed the requirements of ASRAE/IES 90.1 – 1999.
  • “Green Design” – A new program backed by the U.S. Green Building Council, which comprises 1,400 organizations, has formed to establish a standard for the adoption of green design practices.
  • “Finding the Benefits of Energy Efficiency in Commercial Lease Properties” – Although commercial lease buildings have traditionally been slow to embrace energy efficiency, they’re a prime opportunity for upgrades. But how do you make the building owner see the benefits?
  • “State of the Utility Lighting Rebate Programs” – Utilities are beginning to shift traditional debates for energy efficiency upgrades to a demand response model and offering strong incentives for curtailing load on demand.

To access the papers, click on "Education" and scroll down to "Key issues."



Dec. 13, 2002

Facilities comfortable investing
in power quality despite hard economy

Even in the face of the continued economic slowdown, many manufacturers are beginning to offer add-on power quality services, helping to boost revenues for the power quality equipment and services market in 2002 and create the potential for continued growth. A new report from Frost & Sullivan reveals that revenues for PQ services reached $4.95 billion in 2002 and could climb to $6.26 billion by 2006.

“Opportunity Analysis of the North American Power Quality Equipment and Services Markets” discusses the increased need for undisturbed power services created by the rapid growth of banking and financial institutions and the power quality services industry’s response to the demand. Residual concerns stemming from Sept. 11 have also contributed to the increase in demand by helping to push through higher defense budgets; more safety systems require more quality power.

The complete study is available at www.powersupplies.frost.com.



Dec. 13, 2002

Philips throws the switch on interactive lighting workshop

Philips Lighting, Somerset, N.J., continues to expand the services of its Lighting Application Center, this time unveiling its Industrial Theater where facilities managers can learn how to reduce costs with more creative forms of lighting. Based on the idea that “each light socket…is a unique opportunity to…have a positive impact on the environment,” the 3,000-sq-ft interactive theater hosts workshops that preach the benefits of energy-efficient lighting.

The facility combines two sets of luminaire drums that house a variety of light sources with several interactive presentations and workstations to simulate different lighting challenges and allow participants to work out solutions.

Facilities managers interested in registering for courses can visit www.lighting.Philips.com/nam/education.



Dec. 11, 2002

DOE awards DynaMotors grant for variable-speed motor development

Chances are, the HVAC system in your house uses a single-speed induction motor to power its fan, and the Department of Energy (DOE) wants to change that. The nation’s energy watchdog wants to replace these inefficient motors that cycle on and off at full speed with variable-speed (VS) motors and has awarded a $200,000 grant to DynaMotors to explore the concept.

The Cleveland-based company has developed a VS motor that the DOE thinks could meet its goal of bringing to market a product inexpensive enough to replace today’s single-speed motors and reduce national electric energy consumption and the related air pollution.

VS motors are currently used in only 5% of the 8 million new residential HVAC systems installed each year because current models are substantially more expensive than their single-speed counterparts. The DOE claims the DynaMotors model could reduce the price by 40% to 50% and expects the technology could be introduced to the public by 2005.



Dec. 11, 2002

Thomas & Betts unveils new Web services

Thomas & Betts customers have a new online resource for information on the company and its products. T&B Electrical World is accessible through the Memphis, Tenn.-based company’s Web site, www.tnb.com.

The site provides information on new products, promotions, and cross-reference tools, and delivery status is available through the carrier tracking function. Users can also contact their regional sales offices and offer feedback through the site.

First-time users need to register their email address and fill out a survey that will tailor the site to their preferences.



Dec. 9, 2002

Advance Transformer chips in to help relight World War I memorial

Continuing its $12 million effort to refurbish and rejuvenate Madison Square Park in New York, the New York City Parks Foundation completed the relighting of the Eternal Light World War I memorial in time for November’s Veteran’s Day ceremony with the help of and with the help of Advance Transformer. The Rosemont, Ill.-based ballast manufacturer donated several 40W LED drivers for the star-shaped light display.

Peter Jacobson, lighting specialist for Con Edison said the LED-based design was the right choice for the display because the upgrade required a lighting technology that would support the star’s “unique and continuous lighting requirements.” The LEDs’ ability to provide long-lasting white light was also a factor.

The Eternal Light monument stands 120 ft in the air and has remained lit 24 hours a day since 1923.



Dec. 9, 2002

Project managers can brush up on their skills at Project Management Academy

In response to a growing demand in the construction industry for improved project management capability, FMI Corp. had launched the Project Management Academy. Found specifically to help less-experienced project managers, the academy uses case-study based training to provide students with the knowledge and experience to confidently and consistently guide projects to completion.

The academy will be held twice a year at FMI’s headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., and will consist of four, 10-hr days in which students will be exposed to schedule and budget development and maintenance, change order management, client relations, team coordination, and other project management topics.

The first session is intended for general contractors and is scheduled for Jan. 26-29, 2003. The second, for specialty trade contractors, will run Feb. 9-12, 2003. For more information, call 800 877-1364.



Dec. 6, 2002

Chicago distributor earns Siemens’ highest supplier certification

Bodine Electric had a little something extra to celebrate recently at the third annual Supplier Day in Orlando, Fla. Siemens Medical Solutions USA, who hosted the event, presented the Chicago-based distributor with its Top+ Supplier certification based on its performance in supplying Simens’ Nuclear Medicine Group with fractional horsepower electric gearmotors used in medical diagnostic imaging systems.

The certification is the highest of four levels of supplier rankings employed by the company and represents the top 2% of all Siemens Medical suppliers. Companies are ranked using a rating systems that takes into account four areas: purchasing, logistics, technology, and quality. Bodine scored a perfect 100% in logistics, 99% in technology, and 98% in quality.



Dec. 4, 2002

Broadband service providers respond to shifts in consumer demand

As residential broadband access providers begin to shift the marketing strategy for the technology from the advantages of a faster connection to the variety of content it can provide, several questions remain as to how the market will change between now and 2007 when worldwide gateway revenues are expected to reach $3.1 billion. A new study from Allied Business Intelligence (ABI) examines those issues in a recently released study and discusses technology standards and emerging networking technologies.

“Broadband Residential Gateways: Enabling IP-Based Services and Content Distribution for the Networked Home” answers questions like, How will the growing popularity of home networking drive the demand for a gateway device? and, What are the applications that will drive worldwide gateway revenues to the levels predicted. The two main broadband segments covered in the report are cable and DSL, including the new service offerings that will take advantage of the broadband connection in the home.

The complete study is available from ABI’s Web site.



Dec. 2, 2002

California to host plastic optical fiber conference

Electrical industry members interested in plastic optical fibers (POF) will get a “two-fer” when POF World 2002 will be held concurrently with NEPCON West, Dec. 3-5 at the Parkside Exhibition Hall in San Jose, Calif. The conference will include presentation by representatives from companies like Mitsubishi, Parks Associates, and Nexans.

For more information, visit www.pofto.com.

Dec. 2, 2002

EPRI founder envisions an oil-less future for the nation’s energy grid

It’s not often you can convince a group of people to sit for three days and discuss your dreams, unless you’re EPRI founder and president emeritus Chauncey Starr and your dream is the development of a continental “SuperGrid” that would deliver electricity and hydrogen in an integrated energy pipeline. And that’s just what two dozen engineers from various disciplines did Nov. 6-8 in Palo Alto, Calif.

This SuperGrid, first proposed by Starr at the November 2001 meeting of the American Nuclear Society, would use a high-capacity, superconducting power transmission cable cooled with liquid hydrogen produced by advanced nuclear plants, with some hydrogen ultimately used in fuel cell vehicles and generators.

More specifically, Starr’s SuperGrid would be a 40GW to 80GW, high-efficiency underground energy corridor for real-time, coast-to-coast transfer of electricity as well as for power electrolytic plants producing hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen would be pumped through the center of an evacuated energy pipe, both to cool the superconducting, direct-current, low- or intermediate-voltage cable, which would traverse North America in a giant loop, and to serve as an initial, interstate pipeline for the future hydrogen-electricity economy. Each of a proposed 40, 100-km long section of the cable would be joined by a 1GW to 2GW nuclear plant supplying electricity to the grid and to hydrogen plants. Power electronic converters would connect the DC SuperGrid overlay at various points to existing, high-voltage alternating current transmission substations.

Starr introduced the concept as an example of how energy producers had to begin thinking of new and more imaginative ways to provide power in the future as demands increase and levels of traditional fuels decrease. But those who gathered for the conference last month now believe the project may be possible, and possibly necessary given rising concerns for the safety of the nation’s power supplies.

“If terrorism remains a risk, all major parts of the system could be underground,” says Starr. “If a hydrogen-fueled motor would gradually replace the internal combustion engine, the reduction of U.S. dependence on oil imports might radically chance our foreign policies and commitments. Its long-term consequences might make the Continental SuperGrid a 21st Century equivalent of the Panama Canal of the first transcontinental railroad.”