Feb. 28, 2003

Midwest proves to be a suitable environment for solar energy production

The Midwest is getting a chance to prove it’s good for more than just farming. Four case studies commissioned by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and conducted by engineering and construction firm Black & Veatch, Overland Park, Kan., prove that solar photovoltaic (PV) energy harvesting is possible in the center of the country.

The studies, which took place in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nebraska, investigated PV installations for residential electricity, ranch water pumping, high schools, and wastewater pond aeration.

The studies are available through the Iowa DNR’s Web site, at www.state.ia.us/dnr/energy/programs/solar/index.htm.



Feb. 28, 2003

Quabbin offers channel testing for Cat. 6 interoperability

Interoperability has been the first thing on end-users’ minds since TIA published ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1, its standard for Cat. 6 cabling, and six months after the passage of that standard the industry has taken one of the first steps toward that goal. Quabbin Wire & Cable, Ware, Mass., recently began a program to evaluate Cat. 6 channel component interoperability.

Using nominally compliant Cat. 6 horizontal cable not specific to any vendor’s proprietary system, the company is conducting link and channel testing to determine interoperability of components. Measurements are being made with four separate handheld field testers, and if a component, tester, link, or channel performs questionably, the test is duplicated using a network analyzer.

Fourteen premise hardware systems are to be included in the evaluation.

Manufacturers that submit their hardware for testing will receive performance data compared to the benchmark of all other channels. Findings of the testing will also be published on the company’s Web site (www.quabbin.com).



Feb. 26, 2003

California’s Department of General Services cuts energy costs

The California Department of General Services (DGS) recently completed installation of a neural network-based, energy management system from WebGen Systems, Cambridge, Mass., and has begun to reduce energy costs and improve energy efficiency. WebGen’s Intelligent Use of Energy (IEU) system has been installed in a variety of department-managed facilities throughout California as part of a comprehensive energy-saving program designed to proactively monitor, control, and optimize energy use in its buildings.

Combined with other energy-saving measures implemented by the DGS, the IEU system has led to a more than 20% reduction in energy use in a number of the state’s facilities. Currently, IEU is automatically regulating and controlling energy usage, in real-time, in buildings compromising as much as 4 million square feet of space.



Feb. 26, 2003

Remke Industries celebrates 40 years of growth

The John Remke Co., opened its doors 40 years ago in downtown Chicago as a manufacturer of die cast connectors and indenter fittings. Today, corporate headquarters and production is located in Wheeling, Ill., with distributor locations throughout the United States and Canada. The company manufactures high-quality wire management products, molded connectors and customized solutions for its customers.

“In celebrating our 40th anniversary, we must first thank our customers for their loyalty and continued business,” says Tom O’Gara, president of Remke Industries. “But it’s just as important that we thank our employees for their hard work and unwavering commitment to quality and customer service.”



Feb. 24, 2003

Department of Energy recognizes UL for motor efficiency verification testing

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced that electric motor manufacturers seeking certification for its energy efficiency requirements can have their products tested by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). UL’s Energy Verification Service Program for electric motors is now a recognized certification organization for the DOE’s Federal Register Notice, 10 CFR Part 431.

All electric motor manufacturers must submit compliance documentation to the DOE by April 28, declaring that their motors meet those energy efficiency requirements. The requirements apply to electric motors that are general-purpose, T-frame, single-speed, footmounted, polyphase, squirrel-cage induction motors with a NEMA design A or B configuration.



Feb. 24, 2003

Illinois high school turns trash into cash with new on-site power system

Proving that one man’s trash really is another man’s treasure, an Illinois high school will soon flip the switch on a 360kW microbturbine plant to be powered by gas from a local landfill. Antioch High School, Antioch, Ill., will be one of the first school’s in the country to employ such an arrangement, in which the on-site power plant, which is scheduled to begin operation in April, will use landfill gas collected and flared from a nearby landfill to power and heat the school.

The system was designed and installed by RMT, Inc., a Madison, Wis.-based environmental engineering and construction management firm. The $1.8 million project will use 12 microturbines to heat and power the 262,000 sq ft school, and any extra electricity will be sold to Commonwealth Edison. The system will produce enough power for roughly 300 homes.



Feb. 21, 2003

New fees would penalize users
of distributed generation in California

The specter of the 2001 energy crisis still looms over California, as proposed fees threaten to discourage the growth of the state’s renewable energy and distributed generation industries. The California Public Utility Commission will soon vote on a proposal that would impose fees on thousands of California businesses and homes that have installed on-site energy generation equipment.

The proposed “exit fees” would raise the cost of energy for those who own distributed generation equipment by assessing a levy for each kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce. All California residents are paying increased prices to diffuse the cost of energy during the power shortage in 2001, but the new fees would effectively penalize a second time those who produce their own energy.

Users of distributed generation technologies argue they’re helping to reduce strain on the grid, and therefore shouldn’t be forced to pay more than those who get their energy exclusively from power companies. The amount of the fees isn’t yet known, but some estimates predict an increase by 2.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Distributed generation accounts for some 2,000MW of the 50,000MW of energy produced in California.



Feb. 21, 2003

Graybar named one of country’s 'most admired' companies

For the second consecutive year, Graybar has been named one of America’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine. The St. Louis-based distributor ranked fifth in the “Wholesalers: Electronics & Office Equipment” category.

The magazine surveyed nearly 10,000 executives, directors, and analysts around the country, who then rated companies using eight criteria: innovativeness, employee talent, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, financial soundness, long-term investment value, and quality of products and services.

Graybar was one of 587 companies in 66 categories to make the list.



Feb. 19, 2003

Datacom market will have to wait another year for positive growth

After continuing to decline in 2003, the datacom cabling market will bounce back in 2004 to enjoy double-digit growth, according to a new study by FTM Consulting. The Hummelstown, Pa.-based market research firm credits the cabling demand created by new broadband applications for the 17% increase it predicts through 2007.

“U.S. Building Fiber & Copper Cabling Systems: 2003” blames market saturation for the declines the datacom cabling business has endured since 2001. That downward progression will begin to level off, though, from a 23.1% decline in 2002 to a forecasted 6.1% drop in 2003.

The rise of Gigabit Ethernet applications in 2004, though, will rejuvenate the market, pushing it to double-digit gains. Horizontal cabling applications like storage area networks, switch-to-switch interconnectivity, and fiber-to-the-desk will have the greatest impact on the market.

Fiber cabling currently accounts for 41.4% of the total market for cabling in buildings.



Feb. 19, 2003

GE Power Systems acquires Austrian gen-set manufacturer

GE Power Systems recently announced plans to acquire Jenbacher A.G. Headquartered in Jenbach, Austria, the company manufacturers gas-fueled reciprocating engines and generator sets for power generation applications.

Following completion of the acquisition, Jenbacher will be integrated with GE Distributed Power, a unit of GE Power Systems.

Feb. 14, 2003

FCI Burndy awards electrical distributor in crimping tool promotion

After selling seven Patriot crimping tools in four months, Richard Rindone of Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Charlotte, N.C., won the grand prize in FCI Burndy’s Patriot 4x4 Freedom Promotion. The promotion allowed distributor sales representatives the chance to earn as many as four awards in four months selling the crimping tools.

Rindone will take home a $6,000 personal watercraft from Yamaha. “I let a customer use the tool for four days, and he fell in love with it, immediately placing five orders,” Rindone says of the contest. “He said there was no looking back at the competition.”



Feb. 14, 2003

Bill would make it easier for small businesses to secure health insurance

In an effort to make health insurance affordable for uninsured Americans, a team of congressmen and women recently introduced the Small Business Fairness Act. Brought before the House of Representatives by Representatives Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Ernie Fletcher (R-Ky.), Nydia Velasquez (D-N.Y.), and Cal Dooley (D-Calif.), the bill is the first ever for association health plans (AHP).

AHPs allow small businesses buy into group health insurance plans anywhere in the country, enabling them to pay less than they now pay for small policies directly from insurers. The major obstacle to AHPs to date has been varying state benefit mandates. However, this bill would allow small businesses to be exempt from state-specific mandates.

The Senate is preparing similar legislation to be introduced by Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) in April.



Feb. 12, 2003

Food processor saves money with on-site power incentive program

By making use of excess engine heat, a new on-site power system will help a California-based natural food processor save 20% on its electric bill. Due for completion later this month, the combined-heat-and-power system at California Natural Products, Lathrop, Calif., will generate electricity when needed and use byproduct heat to process rice and other ingredients in the company’s round-the-clock production process.

The decision to implement the system was spurred on by a State of California incentive program that covers almost 33% of total costs for such projects. The company saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in upfront costs through the state incentive program.

Powered by a 1,350kW Deutz natural gas engine, the on-site power system provided by Encorp, Windsor, Colo., will run 24/7. The system is designed to supplement power from Pacific Gas & Electric and provide backup power for critical loads in the event of a utility brownout or blackout. It’s expected to produce more than 9.4 million kW/hr each year – enough energy to power 135,000 100W light bulbs for a year.



Feb. 12, 2003

NFPA presents two-day seminar on building construction and safety code

Electrical workers still confused by the requirements in the NFPA 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code released last year will have a chance to familiarize themselves with it at this year’s NFPA World Safety Conference & Exposition in Dallas. The two-day seminar, held May 16 and 17, will be a part of the conference’s pre-conference proceedings. The conference itself runs May 18 – 21.

The seminar will explain how the code was developed through an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited consensus process, and how to apply it. Details will include concepts of egress and accessibility, performance-based design options, fire-protection systems and equipment, classification of occupancies, hazards of content, and construction types and materials.

NFPA 5000 is the first building code approved by ANSI. It contains provisions for every aspect of the design and construction of buildings and structures, as well as the design of integrated building systems for health and safety.



Feb. 10, 2003

Worldwide construction increases drive demand for lighting equipment through 2006

Despite predictions that worldwide demand for lighting equipment could increase 5.3% per year to reach $102 billion by 2006, growth in North America will fall below the global average. A new study by The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm, finds projects that the United States will still be a leader in the world’s lighting market, irrespective of its lagging demand.

“World Lighting Equipment” reports that the global economy will stimulate construction and manufacturing activity, two principal determinants in lighting equipment demand. The proliferation of technologically advanced lighting products, which carry a higher price tag, will also increase revenues.

Lighting equipment demand could get its greatest push from the construction markets, which are projected to enjoy above-average growth through 2006.

The report is available through the firm’s Web site, www.freedoniagroup.com.



Feb. 10, 2003

Lighting manufacturer closes plant after nearly four decades

After more than 35 years of service, Advance Transformer’s Monroe, Wis., ballast manufacturing plant closed its doors in December. The plant produced more than 500 million magnetic ballasts since opening in January 1966.

The decision was influenced in part by the market’s ongoing conversion from magnetic to electronic ballast technology. Production has moved to a new plant in Mexico.



Feb. 7, 2003

NFPA publishes companion guide to NEC

The NFPA recently published the User’s Guide to the National Electrical Code, authored by Brook Stauffer, executive director for standards and safety at NECA. The reference guide is a companion volume to the association’s National Electrical Code Handbook, but the two books are intended for somewhat different audiences.

“User’s Guide is aimed at people who may just be learning about the Code for the first time,” says Stauffer. “It provides more background information about how the NEC is developed, how the Code book is organized and the best ways to use it, and about the general requirements of Chapters 1-4 that apply to all electrical installations.”

The User’s Guide to the NEC is available for purchase from the NFPA and technical bookstores everywhere.



Feb. 7, 2003

Edwards Signaling rewards electrical contractors for customer loyalty

Edwards Signaling recently named the winners in its ‘Summertime Signals to Ride’ nationwide promotion for electrical contractors. Grand Prize winners Frank Murduck Jr. of Pine Ridge, S.D., and Richard Poggiali of Bayonne, N.J. both won a Kawasaki Jet Ski

Contractors who purchased the company’s products during the promotion received an entry card for each purchase. After completing the requested information entrants could mail in the cards for a random drawing. Edwards introduced the sweepstakes to recognize loyal customers and introduce new electrical contractors to its full line of audible and visual signals.



Feb. 5, 2003

Cabling manufacturer unveils new Web site

Atcom, Inc. recently added new products and product descriptions to its newly re-designed Web site (LANshack.com). Some of the new products include fiber optic cables and Cat. 5e cables available in 6 colors. Custom Cat. 5e cables in lengths of as much as 295 ft are available in four different boot style choices.

The site also features updated tools to aid the customer. Technical tutorials have been included to assist the customer in every phase of the installation. Also, a tiered hierarchical navigation menu was implemented so that a customer can go directly from page to page or product to product.



Feb. 5, 2003

Eaton acquires electrical division of Delta plc

Eaton Corp. announced an agreement to purchase the electrical division of Delta plc for $205 million. The transaction is expected to close early 2003, after the regulatory review and the approval of Delta’s shareholders.

Delta’s electrical division has 3,400 employees and is headquartered in the United Kingdom. Delta’s major electrical brands include MEM, Holec, Bill, Home Automation, Elek, and Tabula. The Delta business will be integrated into Eaton’s Industrial and Commercial Controls segment.



Feb. 3, 2003

Distributed generation market softens
as grid reliability increases

Stabilized electricity prices and the absence of rolling blackouts may have contributed to a reduced interest in distributed generation projects, according to a new study by market research firm Primen.

The study, “Releasing the Potential for Distributed Energy,” includes the results of interviews with industrial and commercial businesses that use between 300kW and 10MW of power. Of the 600 companies included in the survey, just 2% are considered strong prospects for grid-alternative on-site generators, a 13% drop from a year ago.

“Senior management simply isn’t paying as much attention to energy use now,” says Nicholas Lenssen, senior research director of Primen’s distributed generation strategic service. “With the economic slowdown, capital spending is constrained and other issues are more top-of-mind for managers.”

The research firm does, however, estimate that more than 1,700 “sophisticated energy buyers” that represent 1.6GW of power are strong near-term prospects for distributed generation investment.



Feb. 3, 2003

Dranetz-BMI, LEM, partner to produce handheld PQ analysis products

Dranetz-BMI, Edison, N.J., and LEM, Geneva, Switzerland, recently announced the formation of a strategic partnership to co-brand and co-market select products and services within the power quality and energy instrumentation market.

Initial plans for product development focus on a new group of handheld power quality and energy analyzers. The products, which include both single- and 3-phase instruments, have been designed to support troubleshooting, power quality/energy survey, and preventive maintenance applications.