Jan. 30, 2002

Tradepower forms three business units

TradePower, Blue Bell, Pa., recently announced the establishment of three new business units that will serve the distribution and contractor markets: contractor solutions, distributor solutions, and e-business solutions.

According to the company, these units were established to provide better communication with customers, expand the base of existing users, and provide a strong organizational foundation capable of responding to an evolving marketplace. The restructuring is part of an ongoing effort to integrate the operations of Estimation, Inc. and Trade Service Systems.

Alan Mech, former Estimation, Inc. president, will serve as vice president of the Contractor unit. Betty Helpa, former COO of Trade Service Systems, will serve as vice president of the distributor unit. Rich Chadwick, vice president of strategic alliances, and Steve Bowman, vice president of business development, will manage the e-business division.

The company also announced the replacement of CEO G. Michael Llewellyn by Dean Jester, who was formerly the company’s president. Llewellyn will remain a member of the company’s board of directors.



Jan. 30, 2002

Tyco International splits, but stock fails to respond

In an effort to jump-start its sluggish stock price, Tyco International, Exeter, N.H., recently announced plans to break itself into four independent, publicly traded companies: security and electronics, health care, fire protection and flow control, and financial services. The move comes on the heels of rumors that the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the company and after Tyco shares had fallen 19.3% since the beginning of the year.

Although news of the split initially drove the stock price up 2.4% to $47.55, shares dropped to $42.49 only days later. Industry analysts believe the collapse of energy giant Enron Corp. has made investors skeptical of transactions similar to Tyco’s split.

As part of the move, Tyco’s electronics division of companies, which includes Area Lighting Research, Madison Cable, and Tyco Electronics Power Systems, will be combined with its security companies, ADT burglar alarms among them. Together, the two divisions posted revenues of $17.6 billion and netted a $4.2 billion profit in 2001. Those numbers make the new independent company one of the largest manufacturers of electronic component systems, power systems, and fiber optic and wireless interconnection equipment.

“As independent, public companies, each of these businesses will offer investors a ‘pure-play’ opportunity with excellent growth prospects and greatly increased simplicity, clarity, and transparency,” says L. Dennis Kozlowski, chairman and CEO of Tyco and the future independent security and electronics company. “We believe each will be valued substantially higher than the implied valuations it has received in recent years as part of Tyco.”



Jan. 28, 2002

SimplexGrinnell hosts security advisory summit

SimplexGrinnell, a unit of Tyco Fire and Security Services and leader in fire protection, life safety, and integrated security, will hold its second annual Security Advisory Council Summit Feb. 6 and 7 in Orlando, Florida.

At the Summit, leading security industry professionals will meet with SimplexGrinnell's security experts and executives to discuss current trends and issues affecting security customers and the delivery of integrated security, including concerns related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They will examine integrated security delivery and service and requirements within the healthcare, office, manufacturing/industrial, and education markets.

"As a premier systems integrator, SimplexGrinnell is committed to making sure we understand the needs and requirements of customers in this new age of security," says Dave Baer, Vice President, Sales and Marketing. "Our goal is to be the preeminent systems integrator for high-end security applications - a world-class organization that provides customers with the best and most comprehensive single-source solutions. The input and feedback we receive at the SimplexGrinnell Security Advisory Council Summit is invaluable. It sharpens our focus and gives us tremendous insight into what customers are thinking and experiencing today."



Jan. 28, 2002

Complying with OSHA’s new record keeping rule

Since its inception in 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Washington, D.C., has required employers to record occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. According to an article in the December 2001/January 2002 edition of The Subcontractor written by Joe O’Connor, safety consultant for the American Subcontractors Association (ASA), the procedures OSHA has used for the past 31 years changed on January 1.

For 1.4 million employers covered by OSHA's new record keeping rule, Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1904—Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, makes it easier to maintain records by computer. The rule’s change to counting days away from work make management by computer a simple task: All days, including weekends, are included in the calculation, and the maximum days recorded ends at 180 days. The new system also makes it possible to keep records at a central location.

"The new record keeping system is easier for employers to understand, better protects employee privacy in sensitive cases and will yield more accurate injury and illness data," said OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. "The new OSHA forms are smaller; they fit on legal size paper. We've also clarified and simplified the instructions for filling out the forms."

OSHA mailed forms to employers likely to be covered by the rule in December. To help them make the transition to the new system, new record keeping forms, training materials, fact sheets and other assistance are available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha-slc.gov/recordkeeping/index.html.

In response to these new requirements, Intec recently published the “Record keeping Module” (Item #4555RK), which updates its CompliancePlus software (Item #4555) but also serves as a stand-along application. The module offers recording and reporting capabilities consistent with the new requirements. New databases accommodate the changes to the criteria for work relationship, determination of first aid versus a recordable case, the counting of days away from work and job transfer, and all of the new reports (300, 300A, and 301).

The cost of the stand-alone application is $79 for ASA members and $99 for nonmembers. To order, call Intec at (800) 745-4818.



Jan. 25, 2002

Free tech talk newsletter back issues now online

American Polywater recently added all 17 back issues of the "Technical Talk" newsletter to its Web site. You can view and print the free publication on electrical cable installation topics, which is availabe in PDF format, by visiting http://www.polywater.com/newslett.html.



Jan. 25, 2002

Light commercial market primed for controls, services growth


Preliminary results from a new study by market research firm Parks Associates, Dallas, revealed a light commercial marketplace that is interested in new monitoring and control solutions and could serve as a lucrative target market for emerging HVAC, security, energy management, and utility gateway applications.

“The Light Commercial Marketplace,” which includes results from a survey of quick and full-service restaurants, grocery stores, property managers, and churches during the fourth quarter of 2001, reveals high levels of interest from respondents in services such as HVAC control, security monitoring, energy management functions, and value-added offerings from energy service companies.

"Our interest in studying the light commercial market was born out of our examination of the residential market for telemetry gateways," says Kurt Scherf, Parks Associates' vice president of research. "Although a number of service providers will provide these 'e-services' in the residential area, we believe that many of these services will emerge first in the commercial and small business sectors."

Early survey results support this theory. Owners and managers showed a favorable inclination toward highly targeted applications, such as remote monitoring of refrigeration and cooking equipment in restaurants and grocery stores and remote monitoring of key environmental data, such as air quality and carbon monoxide, in offices, apartments, and condominiums.

For more information, call (972) 490-1113 or e-mail sales@parksassociates.com.



Jan. 23, 2002

UPS market to recover after decline in 2002

After experiencing a dip in 2002, the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) market should steadily improve through 2007 over the $5.92 billion mark it reached in 2000, according to a new report by industry analyst Frost & Sullivan, titled “World UPS Markets.” The report points to a decrease in infrastructure investments made by the telecommunications and information technology markets as reasons for the decline.

Despite the current economic downturn, Frost & Sullivan analyst Farah Saeed thinks continued problems with grid power and the lingering threat of rolling blackouts in California could bolster the market.

“End-users now realize the importance of backup equipment in ensuring consistent and reliable power,” says Saeed. “These blackouts have meant not only the potential loss of productivity but also possible damage to expensive, sensitive equipment. As long as regions have blackouts, UPS systems will experience positive sales.”

The report is available at Frost & Sullivan’s Web site, www.powersupplies.frost.com.



Jan. 23, 2002

Construction firms, accountants hook up through Intuit software

Building upon its Master Builder software platform, Intuit, Mountain View, Calif., recently launched two new programs, Master Builder Live Advice Center and Master Builder Professional Advisors Program, that will enable construction firms and accountants to connect through the Internet.

Master Builder Live Advice Center allows construction firms to connect with accountants via the Web, using search criteria such as geographic location, subject matter, expertise, or background. Accountants who have designated themselves as accounting advisors will reply to contractor questions by e-mail or phone.

For the accountant looking for more construction clients, Master Builder Professional Advisors Program is a recognition program that gives accountants the option of becoming an Intuit Master Builder Professional Advisor or an Intuit Certified Master Builder ProAdvisor.



Jan. 21, 2002

North Dakota, New Hampshire adopt NEC

The states of North Dakota and New Hampshire recently announced plans to adopt the latest edition of the National Electrical Code. The North Dakota State Electrical Board and the New Hampshire State Electricians’ Board voted to implement the 2002 NEC effective April 1, 2002, and July 1, 2002, respectively.

“The statewide use and adoption of the NEC will maintain a high level of public safety while helping to strengthen New Hampshire’s safety infrastructure,” said New Hampshire State Fire Marshal Don Bliss. “The people of New Hampshire can feel safer knowing that they are protected by the fundamental building block for electrical safety.”



Jan. 21, 2002

Generac and MSOE partner to educate engineers on power systems

As part of a national effort to reach practicing professional engineers, Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) and Generac Power Systems, Waukesha, Wis., are launching the first class in a new engineering outreach program focused on industrial standby power generation that will include a “Power Trip” road show, which will begin touring the country in the first quarter of 2002.

“Designing & Specifying Emergency Power Systems,” is a one-day course designed specifically for design, sales, and consulting engineers who wish to expand their knowledge of power generation equipment and its various capabilities. Topics the class will cover include electrical equipment requirements, facility load analysis, UPSs, generator sizing, and transfer switches. Participants who successfully complete the course will receive eight Professional Development hours and earn one continuing education unit (CEU).

“This course is designed for practicing engineers,” says Michael Kirchner, Generac’s training manager. “It will provide them with a fuller understanding of facility requirements for emergency power, and how power generation systems are designed, sized, and specified for different kinds of applications.”

For more information on the program, contact the Generac Power Systems Information Center at 1-888-GENERAC, or via e-mail at powertrip@generac.com.



Jan. 18, 2002

Electrotek to spearhead
DG feasibility study

In the hopes of enabling cooperatives to determine whether the aggregation of on-site generation and grid power will decrease the cost of electricity for cooperatives, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Cooperative Research Network (CRN) has contracted Electrotek Concepts, Edison, N.J., to develop a methodology for determining the feasibility of aggregation and dispatch of customer or third-party owned on-site generation installed primarily for backup power.

Initial studies performed by Electrotek in Deleware, Maryland, and New York showed the capability of backup generation in rural areas to supply more than 10% of peak demand. While recognizing the interests of national chains with backup generation operating in multiple utility service territories, the organizers of the CRN study, along with Electrotek, hope to identify those factors unique to electric cooperatives.

J. Charles Smith, president of Electrotek, acknowledges the opportunities distributed generation presents to enhance power supply system reliability, but he sees several technical, financial, and management issues creating problems for the technology.

“This project will develop a simple methodology for cooperatives to determine the feasibility of a simple, Internet-based system for dispatching multiple distributed generators, the best business arrangements for implementing such a project, and the costs and benefits available to them,” he says. “It represents an important step forward for cooperatives to determine the most cost-effective approach for aggregating available electric supply from existing DG units and enhancing the reliability of their electric supply systems.”

The methodology developed under the contract will be applicable to cooperatives located in all states, including those that have developed active competitive wholesale markets.



Jan. 18, 2002

S&C Electric buys power quality business from Siemens

S&C Electric Co., Chicago, recently purchased the Orlando, Fla.-based power quality business operation from Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution, Raleigh, N.C. A designer and manufacturer of dynamic voltage restorers (DVRs) and other power quality and stability devices for high-tech customers, this business will be integrated into S&C’s Power Electronics Division, which is responsible for the PureWave family of power-electronic switching systems.

“We are very pleased to assume responsibility for the Power Quality business,” says John Estey, president of S&C Electric. “S&C has an extensive portfolio of products and services to improve the power quality supplied to critical customers, and the power quality business is a great complement to these solutions. The product line is a great fit for S&C and has come about at a good time for us.”

Jan van Dokkum, president and CEO of Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution, characterized the deal as a win-win situation for both companies. “It allows us to focus like a laser beam on the high-voltage systems business and our utility customers, while rounding out S&C’s portfolio of distribution products for industrial customers,” he says.



Jan. 16, 2002

Siemens, Dodge hold sweepstakes

Siemens Energy & Automation, Alpharetta, Ga., and Dodge are sponsoring the Ultimate Power Sweepstakes to help launch Siemens’ Ultimate Load Center. The grand prize, to be selected March 15, is a 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 ST 422 cab truck. The second prize is a trip for two to a Winston Cup Series race, including tickets, airfare, and hotel. The third-, fourth-, and fifth-place winners will receive prizes from Red Wing boots, Roto Zip Spiral Saw power tools, and Mountain Dew soft drinks.

Contractors can register at www.sea.siemens.com/sweepstakes or at their local Siemens distributor. According to Siemens, the Ultimate Load Center is an ergonomic unit that can cut installation time by 25% and eliminate 50% of repetitive-motion work.



Jan. 16, 2002

Hard Dollar helps students compete for “real-world” projects

Hard Dollar Corp., Tempe, Ariz., a provider of integrated cost estimating and project management systems for the construction industry, recently teamed up with the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) to provide its estimating and bidding software to students participating in the ASC Reno 2002 Student Competition Feb. 5-8, in Reno, Nev. Winners will go on to compete in the ASC National Competition sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Hard Dollar’s Estimating Office System (EOS) will help student competitors exercise analytical and problem-solving skills on actual projects provided by industry sponsors.

“We are very pleased to have this opportunity to support the ASC competition,” said Brad Barth, senior vice president, product management for Hard Dollar Corp. “The competition is an excellent chance for students to practice what they’ve learned in a dynamic setting that is as close to the real world as possible.”

Hard Dollar is offering a complementary version of EOS to each student. In addition, Hard Dollar is providing product support to students via online training and question-and-answer sessions throughout the month of January.

In May 2000, Hard Dollar announced the formation of its Education Council, an industry initiative to bring experts from academia and industry together to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The council is composed of professors and program leaders from dozens of major schools that offer a significant infrastructure construction curriculum. Through the efforts of the council members, Hard Dollar applications are being integrated into the educational programs for thousands of construction students across the country.

For more information on the competition, visit coen.boisestate.edu/ascreno2002/.



Jan. 16, 2002

Enerwise Global Technologies acquires Datapult

Enerwise Global Technologies, Kennett Square, Pa., a provider of enterprise energy management services, recently acquired Datapult, LLC, from American Electric Power Company, Inc. This move will enable Enerwise to provide additional products and services to a broader set of commercial and industrial customers.

The expanded Enerwise product line includes Web-based applications used to collect and analyze energy usage information, monitor power quality, engage in load management, conduct rate modeling and tariff comparisons, and dispatch distributed generation capabilities. Enerwise will continue to support former Datapult applications, including a utility allocation service that enables multi-tenant facilities to allocate the appropriate utility expenses to individual tenants.



Jan. 14, 2002

Canadian Standards Association releases Canadian Electrical Code

For the first time since 1990, the release of the Canadian Electrical(CE) Code in 2002 will coincide with that of the NFPA’s National Electrical Code. The last version of the CE Code, which is published every four years – unlike the NEC, which is published every three – came out in 1998.

Released Jan. 1, the new CE Code establishes safety requirements for electrical work and the installation of electrical equipment operating, or intended to operate, at all voltages in electrical installations for buildings, structures, and premises across Canada.

The new edition of the CE Code contains several changes that will facilitate greater harmonization with U.S. standards for products such as lighting equipment and heat tracing cables. It includes revisions reflecting new technology and industry practices as well as an index of new or changed rules from the previous edition.

For more information, visit the Canadian Standards Association Web site at www.csa.ca.



Jan. 14, 2002

NEMA releases new standards on industrial control, motor specifics

NEMA has released three new standards—two for industrial control and one for motors and generators.

As a revision to ICS 5-1993, ICS 5-2000 Industrial Control and Systems: Control Circuit and Pilot Devices provides general requirements for control circuit and pilot devices including pressure and temperature-operated switches, control relays, limit switches, proximity switches, push-buttons, and selector switches.

Including information concerning ratings, construction, testing, performance, and manufacture, ICS 6-1993 (R2001) Industrial Control Systems: Enclosures covers the enclosure requirements of all industrial control devices functioning on commercial voltages as high as 750VDC or 7200VAC.

Adding to the more than 500 pages of manufacturing and performance data related to AC and DC electric motors and generators of the original standard, MG 1-1998 Motors and Generators, Revision 2 includes expanded data on short-time rated machines and new information about the NEMA Premium Efficiency Electric Motors Program, which promotes motor systems efficiency.

The standards are available through Global Engineering Documents at www.global.ihs.com.



Jan. 11, 2002

EPRI teams with Apogee for online training classes

With the help of Apogee Interactive Inc., the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is set to launch a set of online courses for utility engineers through its Power Quality University. The courses will focus on three major technical areas: power quality, lighting, and motors and drives.

EPRI chose Apogee because of its history in developing beyond-the-classroom training. The Tucker, Ga.-based Web-course developer got started in distance technical training for the utility industry in 1994 with interactive CD-I and CD-ROM-format classes.

“Because of the technical nature of these courses, they lend themselves well to online instruction,” says Marsha Grossman, EPRI’s project manager for the training unit. “With today’s tighter training and travel budgets, e-learning also enables us to continue to provide quality training opportunities for our members worldwide.”



Jan. 11, 2002

NECA charts electrical history with new book

Did you know a NECA member was in charge of the power system that supported the Woodstock music festival of 1969? Are you familiar with the intertwined history of NECA and IBEW? NECA history buffs rejoice: After 100 years the association is releasing a century retrospective, titled Empowering an Industry: One Hundred Years of the National Electrical Contractors’ Association.

Written by Kathleen J. Nawyn and covering every significant event from NECA’s first meeting at the Pan American Exhibition in 1901 to the present, the book describes the association’s work to organize the electrical industry.

For ordering information, contact NECA at orderdesk@necanet.org.



Jan. 9, 2002

Lighting Research Center
offers online training

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is set to launch its Lighting Education Online program this month. The Internet-based program will provide continuing education in lighting to practicing professionals, including architects, engineers, designers, and others who need to improve their knowledge of the discipline.

The program will include educational modules on lighting terminology and various technologies, such as lamps, lighting systems, architectural luminaires, and controls. Additional modules will be added later in 2002, including sections on the following:

  • Architectural lighting application guidelines for offices, school, and healthcare facilities.

  • Lighting design.

  • Human factors of lighting.

  • Energy and economics of lighting.

As an accredited university program, the LRC will track student progress and award continuing education credit for all modules completed, which students can apply toward a Continuing Education Certificate in lighting.

For more information, visit the LRC's Web page at www.lrc.rpi.edu



Jan. 9, 2002

Broadband access market still strong, telecom consultant group maintains

Despite reports to the contrary, the broadband access market is experiencing astounding growth, a telecom consultant reports.

The Information Gatekeepers Inc. (IGI), a consultant group, publisher, and trade show organizer headquartered in Boston, believes writers, analysts, and editors who have declared broadband access a failure are misguided or have political axes to grind. At a recent IGI seminar, President Paul Polishuk called the debate over broadband’s growth a “false issue.”

“While the broadband access market has many problems,” Polishuk said, “a strong, surging customer demand is not one.”

IGI cites a Dec. 13 Financial Times article as an example of reporting that distorts facts about the broadband access market.

Titled “Broadband’s Slow Start Hides Its Potential,” the article contains statistics for broadband growth that indicate a doubling of households served by broadband in 2001. IGI describes this as “very substantial growth in the face of recession, numerous xDSL resellers going bankrupt, broadband ISPs going bankrupt, a lack of effective marketing, 20% price increases, and...very limited broadband access availability.”



Jan. 7, 2002

ABB wins $29 million government contract for motor drives

ABB, New Berlin, Wis., recently secured a $29 million order from the U.S. Air Force. With $22 million of the funds, ABB will replace two 40,000 HP motor/drives with two new 69,000 HP AC ABB medium-voltage drives and motors at the Arnold Engineering and Development Center’s (AEDC) Propulsion Wind Tunnel (PWT) facility in Tullahoma, Tenn.

“The project is turnkey, with ABB providing transformers, power converters, motors, switchgear harmonic filters, facility controls--and all construction and installation services,” said Ram Bhatia, director of medium-voltage drives. ABB’s new drives will work in tandem with two 83,000 HP fixed-speed motors to provide a maximum of 304,000 HP at 600 rpm to the tunnels’ propeller fans.

“The drives add the ability to run the fans in adjustable-speed mode, or to start up and synchronize the two fixed-speed motors to run at a constant speed, depending on the test protocols and parameters,” explained Bhatia.

A separate $7 million project will include replacing two 30 MW softstarters to start up a total of 18 27,000 – 52,000 HP synchronous motors at AEDC’s Aeropropulsion System Test Facility.

ABB is the main contractor on the project. ABB Industrie AG, Switzerland, will provide the power electronics, and Cutler-Hammer Engineering Services will handle construction services.

In the photo, new drives/motors at the Arnold Engineering and Development Center’s Propulsion Wind Tunnel Facility power propeller fans that drive wind through the tunnels at supersonic speeds for the testing of scale-model aircraft.



Jan.7, 2002

Survey reveals many contractors aren’t maximizing tax advantages

Many construction firms may be paying more taxes than they have to, reports a recent survey by the Cincinnati accounting firm of Jackson, Rolfes, Spurgeon & Co. (JRS).

Conducted via mail and the Internet this fall in Ohio and Kentucky, the survey asked heads of construction and contracting firms a series of financial questions. JRS was surprised by the number of firms that did not use the accounting method that provided the best tax advantage.

"When asked what revenue recognition method they used for tax purposes, over 60% responded they use the percentage of completion (POC) method," said Jeff Oehler, tax partner-in-charge of the firm’s construction industry service team. "This is somewhat unusual since most of the respondents annual revenue fell into the range of $1-10 million and the POC method does not offer the same tax advantages the OE completed contract method would."

The percentage of completion method requires the profit on each contract to be recognized as work is performed. On the other hand, the completed contract method allows a contractor to defer recognition of the profit on each contract until the contract is completed.

JRS offers an example: If a contractor uses the percentage of completion method, and has jobs in process at the end of the year with $3,000,000 of revenue recognized and 15% gross profit margin on those jobs, they would recognize $450,000 of taxable income on the jobs in process. Had the same contractor used the completed contract method, the $450,000 of gross profit and related $180,000 of income tax (assuming a 40% tax bracket) could be deferred to future years.

The survey also found that more than half of respondents do not have a strategic plan, nor do they intend on creating one.

"A strategy is like a roadmap. It provides direction, but allows for course corrections and new developments," said Jim Rolfes, managing partner of Jackson, Rolfes, Spurgeon & Co. "To run a business without a strategic plan is like floating in a lifeboat without oars. A formal strategic plan provides the structure, goals and benchmarks for growth and expansion."

When asked about the biggest threat to their companies’ growth, respondents cited the tight labor market, government regulation, the economy, and lack of demand for their services.

For a copy of the survey, visit www.jrscpa.com and complete the "contact us" form or call Brenda Collins, marketing director, at (513) 595-8800.



Jan. 4, 2002

Alabama adopts NEIS for regulatory use

In an attempt to clear up the confusion over the “neat and workmanlike manner” requirement in the NEC, the Alabama Electrical Contractors Board has approved the use of National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS) for regulator purposes. The NEIS are a series of quality standards for electrical construction, published by NECA and ANSI that take the subjectivity out of the neat and workmanlike requirements.

“What this action means is that counties throughout the state now have the ability to adopt NEIS standards for electrical construction within their jurisdiction,” says Alabama Electrical Contractor Board chairman, David Carpenter. “This means they’ll be able to inspect jobs to the workmanship requirements of the NEIS, in addition to safety requirements of the NEC.”

Because the NEIS are quality standards, they contain additional requirements that go beyond NEC safety minimums. Among the supplemental material are the following:

  • Receiving and storing material on site.

  • Proper handling and lifting procedures.

  • Seismic bracing of electrical equipment.

  • Installation procedures, such as conduit bending.

  • Testing, lamp burn-in, and other project close-out procedures

“There are a lot of benefits to using NEIS, and it’s up to us to inform Alabama Code officials and inspectors all about them,” says Carpenter.



Jan. 4, 2002

Web courses allow electricians to renew licenses online

Now that more than 25 states have in place continuing education requirements for electricians, www.electricrenewal.com offers a method for licensed electricians to achieve the education necessary for license renewal. Eleven correspondence courses offered via the site will help the electrician who needs a quick education upgrade.

Modules range from a 2-hr safety course to a 16-hr class on the NEC. The site also offers a Code refresher course and a fiber optic class.

The courses are offered by Iowa State University and overseen by former EC&M consulting editor, Paul Rosenberg.



Jan. 2, 2002

ASA gets behind bill that would outlaw bid shopping

In an effort to curb the desire of subcontractors to lower their prices from what they proposed in their original bids to general contractors, the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) is pursuing the Construction Quality Assurance Act of 2001, which would prohibit bid shopping on construction contracts with the federal government. Bid shopping is defined in the bill as “the practice of a contractor asking, requiring, or otherwise pressuring a subcontractor to lower bids for subcontracts, or accepting lower bids from subcontractors, after submitting a bid without passing the savings from the lower bids back to the federal government.

The proposed legislation would give the government the power to prohibit bid shopping in the contract bidding process and provide government contracting officers with the ability to investigate incidents of bid shopping. If ratified, the bill would also impose penalties for noncompliance, including treble damages, cancellation of the contract, and in some cases, debarment.

The Construction Quality Assurance Act of 2001 has been referred to the House Committee on Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy for further discussion.



Jan. 2, 2002

Fuel cells to power Air Force housing in San Antonio

Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, will demonstrate three 3kW proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells at nearby Brooks Air Force Base under a $500,000 contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. Each of the three natural gas-powered fuel cells provided by DCH Technology, Valencia, Calif., will power a base housing unit at Brooks.

The project’s primary objective is to install, operate, maintain, monitor, and report data on the fuel cells to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Secondary objectives include:

  • Familiarizing area Air Force personnel with fuel cell technology

  • Providing the basis for a fuel cell education program for St. Phillips College

  • Providing product feedback to DCH Technology on their fuel cell’s performance in the San Antonio climate