Oct.31, 2001

Energy Star partners donate energy-efficient lights

As part of the government’s energy conservation program Change a Light, Change the World, MaxLite, Pine Brook, N.J., and other Energy Star partners recently donated energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and fixtures to a charity benefiting low-income households in Connecticut. The charity, Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April, helps homeowners make the initial investment in energy efficient lighting.

“The lighting donations made by Energy Star’s partners will not only directly benefit many people in Hartford and around the country, but will also illustrate to the entire community how easy it is to realize the benefits of energy efficiency,” says Greg Secord, executive director of Rebuilding Together with Christmas in April.

Energy Star is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, jointly managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy. The label was created to help consumers quickly and easily identify lighting products, appliances, and a range of other products that save energy, money, and help to protect the environment.

During the Change a Light, Change the World program, partners (that include GE Lighting, Panasonic Lighting, and Philips Lighting) will make energy-efficient lighting products available to all consumers through local, regional, and national promotions.

The program’s supporters are so determined to spread the word about energy efficient lighting because if every U.S. household participates in the campaign and uses Energy Star lights, the country could save as much as $800 million in energy bills, according to Christie Whitman, administrator of the EPA.

In addition to MaxLite’s efforts, The Home Depot has donated more than 2,500 Energy Star qualified light bulbs as well as 250 fixtures to the charity for use in renovation projects around the nation.

Oct. 31, 2001

Pass & Seymour unveils new installer promotion

Pass & Seymour/Legrand, a manufacturer of electrical and network wiring devices and accessories, recently introduced TriPower 2001.3, a national promotion to boost industrial device sales and strengthen customer relationships for distributors who sell the company’s industrial products to installers.

Installers can receive a free Industrial Strength Installer Kit, which includes the following items, from their participating Pass & Seymour distributor.

  • Product selection slide charts

  • IEC 309 Sourcebook

  • NEMA chart and factory cutaway posters

  • TradeTIPS/ElecTech reference card

  • Redesigned Turnlok product sample

  • Industrial strength hand exerciser

For more information, visit www.passandseymour.com.

Oct. 30, 2001

ElectricSmarts.com and SurplusChannel.com partner to bring electrical surplus marketplace online

ElectricSmarts.com, a search engine and information site for the electrical, voice/data, and security industries, recently added a new service for visitors: an online marketplace where contractors can buy and sell electrical surplus inventory.

Provided by SurplusChannel.com, an e-commerce software and IT developer, this service enables users to connect to an inventory of electrical items for sale where interested buyers and sellers can negotiate online. To sell an item, you fill out a simple posting form. Then items can be ready for purchase by thousands of other subscribers within minutes. The online features of the surplus marketplace replace the labor-intensive, time-consuming and paper-based processes traditionally used to unload surplus inventories.

Another important feature of the surplus marketplace is a "Spot Market" where contractors can quickly post a "Wanted Item" urgent request. The system will automatically generate e-mail notices to all qualified sellers that a buyer has posted a wanted item and invite them to enter bids. The buyer can then negotiate online with the seller or sellers of his or her choice.

"We are pleased to be providing this valuable service through ElectricSmarts.com," says Doug Kinney, president of SurplusChannel.com. "Having come from the electrical industry myself, we have designed our SurplusChannel.com marketplace with the best technology and features to solve the needs of users from the electrical industry. We have seen tremendous cost and time-savings achieved by the customers of our marketplace and business software, and we are happy to form an alliance with ElectricSmarts.com."

Oct. 29, 2001

Housing Market Index Declines In October

According to a survey tabulated in early October by the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB), Washington, D.C., its Housing Market Index (HMI) recently dropped eight points—from 56 to 48.

“Like the rest of the economy, the housing market is clearly showing the effects of the September 11 attack on America,” said NAHB President Bruce Smith, a home builder from Walnut Creek, Calif. “In a supplement to the monthly survey, 56% of the builders polled said that new home sales had declined in the wake of the terrorist attacks. The primary reasons that they cited were lower consumer confidence, a weaker economy and job market, and the declining stock market.”

Nevertheless, Smith said NAHB remains confident that the housing market will stabilize in the first part of next year following a modest decline in the third and fourth quarters of 2001, and that housing is strategically positioned to play a major role in the nation’s economic recovery.

“Compared to other sectors of the economy, housing is holding up relatively well in the face of unprecedented conditions,” said Smith.

For nearly two decades, NAHB has released the HMI based on a monthly survey of builders. Home builders are asked to rate current sales of single-family homes and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair,” or “poor.” They are also asked to rate traffic of prospective buyers as either “high to very high,” “average,” or “low to very low.” The association uses these scores for responses to each component to calculate a seasonally adjusted overall index, where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good.

In October’s HMI, the indexes gauging current single-family home sales, sales expectations for the next six months, and traffic of prospective buyers all declined from the previous month. Current sales dropped from 62 to 53, and expectations for sales over the next six months dropped from 61 to 55. Traffic of prospective buyers declined from 39 to 34.

Oct. 29, 2001

NEMA Releases Standards On Adjustable-Speed Drive Systems

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., recently released two new standards: ICS 7-2000, Adjustable-Speed Drives, and ICS 7.1-2000, Safety Standards for Construction and Guide for Selection, Installation, and Operation of Adjustable-Speed Drive Systems.

Incorporating parts of the document IEC 61800-2-1998, NEMA ICS 7-2000 covers the requirements for adjustable-speed drive systems, including ratings, construction, testing, performance, and manufacturing.

NEMA ICS 7.1-2000 supplements ICS 7 and provides recommendations for the selection, installation, and operation of adjustable-speed drive systems. It is intended to assist electrical manufacturers in designing and building equipment with features that will reduce hazards.

You can purchase NEMA ICS 7-2000 for $67.00 and NEMA ICS 7.1-2000 for $46.00 by calling Global Engineering Documents at (800) 854-7179 (within the U.S.); (303) 397-7956 (international); (303) 397-2740 (fax); or on the Internet at www.global.ihs.com.

To preview both of these documents, visit http://www.nema.org/engineering/icsstandards.html.

Oct. 29, 2001

TradePower Provides Contractors with Integrated Purchasing and Accounting Capabilities

TradePower, an e-business construction solutions provider based in Linthicum Heights, Md., recently unveiled its Accounting Partnership Program, which enables accounting software systems to link with its PowerStation e-business solutions suite. With these links, contractors can integrate purchases from phone, fax, and electronic orders directly into job cost and accounting programs, allowing them to buy materials while saving time and increasing accuracy and efficiency.

Some of TradePower's enabled accounting partners include Geac AEC Business Solutions, Dexter + Chaney, and C/F DataSystems, Inc. “By partnering with the industry’s leading accounting software companies, we are enabling contractors to streamline their purchasing process,” said G. Michael Llewellyn, CEO of TradePower. “The end result for contractors is a significant decrease in processing costs and an increase in their bottom line.”

For more information, visit www.tradepower.com.

Oct. 26, 2001

Electro Rent Expands Pool of Rental Test Equipment for Contractors

After recently expanding its inventory to include the latest power quality, electrical, fiber optic cabling, LAN cabling, and CATV/HFC plant test instruments, Electro Rent Corp., Van Nuys, Calif., reaffirmed its commitment to meet the full range of electrical contractors' test equipment rental requirements.

"Electro Rent is a one-stop shop that serves all of our customers' high voltage and low voltage testing requirements. In just the past three months, we have added new equipment from Agilent (WireScope & Optical Network Test divisions), Acterna (formerly Wavetek Wandel Goltermann), and Sumitomo Electric to our test and measurement equipment rental pool,” said Gary Phillips, senior vice president of sales & marketing. “Electro Rent now stocks copper and fiber cable plant test instruments valued at more than $14 million from these and other leading suppliers including AVO International, Biddle Instruments, Doble, Dranetz-BMI, Hipotronics, Multi-Amp, Reliable Power Meters, and Yokogawa for high voltage copper testing, and Alcoa Fujikura, Ando, Exfo, Microtest, NetTest, and Tektronix for low voltage copper and fiber testing."

Electro Rent provides rental and lease test equipment to national and local contractors working in copper and fiber for telecommunications, CATV, industrial, defense, construction, and utility applications.

For more information, visit www.electrorent.com.

Oct. 26, 2001

NFPA's Fall Education Conference Kicks Off in November

It's not too late to register for NFPA's 2001 Fall Education Conference scheduled for November 10-14 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas.

In response to the tragic events of September 11, NFPA has strengthened its program to incorporate information on the disasters. The Opening General Session, to be held Monday, November 12, will focus on the attack on America with keynote speaker and 30-year journalism veteran Morton M. Kondracke discussing how the devastating events may affect U.S. and world affairs.

Featured seminars will include: Domestic Terrorism - a USAR Team Response to New York City and the Pentagon, featuring speakers from the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department USAR Team VA-TF1 and the Phoenix Fire Department USAR Team AZ-TF1; Emergency Response to Large Scale Incidents: Experiences from Recent Disasters, presented by disaster management expert Gunnar Kuepper; and How to Deal with Death and Keep Smiling, presented by Father Carl G. Carlozzi, Chaplain Phoenix Fire Department.

For session topics and travel information, visit www.nfpa.org. If you have questions, call (617) 984-7310. To register on-line, go to www.nfpa.org/ProfessionalDev/EventsCalendar/FallEducationConference/FallEducationConference.asp.

Oct. 24, 2001

Interest in Distributed Energy Increasing, Study Says

A growing number of businesses appear ready to adopt small-scale, onsite applications of electric-generating technology, or distributed energy, to address concerns about power reliability and energy-price volatility, according to a new study released by Primen, a Madison, Wis.-based energy market intelligence company.

Based on telephone surveys and in-depth interviews with 627 industrial companies and commercial businesses that use between 10kW and 5MW of electricity, the study, entitled Distributed Energy at the Tipping Point: Customers’ Growing Receptivity to Grid-Alternative DE, found that more than 10% of U.S. and Canadian businesses in five sectors identified themselves as “strong candidates” for base-load distributed energy applications during the next two years. Nearly half of those same businesses said they are already actively evaluating distributed-energy options, including natural gas reciprocating engines, microturbines, and fuel cells.

In addition, the study uncovered the motivation behind the companies’ interest: deregulation. Representatives of several companies surveyed said their experience with deregulation has made them highly skeptical that retail competition will lower their energy costs. Those showing the most interest in distributed energy are located in California. Conversely, businesses in states and provinces just beginning the transition to retail competition are among the least likely candidates for the electric grid alternative.

“Given the size of the potential market identified in the study, even a moderate success will substantially increase the base-load distributed generation installed in North America in a short time,” says Nicholas Lenssen, senior director of distributed energy at Primen. “Such interest and activity was virtually nonexistent as recently as two years ago and suggests that we may be on the verge of a real growth spurt in distributed energy.”

Oct. 24, 2001

NFPA Votes to Continue Lightning Protection Project

At its October 4, 2001, meeting, the Standards Council of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) voted to continue the project on lightning protection and to issue the 2000 edition of NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems.

A full decision on the item will be issued “in due course,” according to an NFPA press release.

Oct. 24, 2001

How Does TUMS Spell Relief?
G-U-A-R-A-N-T-E-E

In a project that included the installation of a 15,000V substation, Guarantee Electrical Co., St. Louis, recently completed an electrical system renovation and addition at the 170,000 sq. ft. TUMS factory in downtown St. Louis nearly one year ahead of schedule.

Complicating the procedure, however, was TUMS decision to continue production as the renovations were underway. As a result, Guarantee’s electrical team was required to take precautions that included erecting temporary plastic partitions around all production areas and wearing lab coats and hair and beard nets in product-sensitive areas. Although portions of the plant were shut down for short periods of time, at least part of the production continued at all times.

“We were working in a fully functioning facility,” says Steve Briesacher, Guarantee’s project manager. “We took precautions to ensure our work would never contaminate or slow the production of TUMS.”

GlaxoSmithKline, the company that owns TUMS, allotted $1.5 million for the electrical work at the facility. Guarantee provided new power distribution, controls, and instrumentation for the plant.

Oct. 22, 2001

American Superconductor to Supply HTS Wire for World's First 100MW Superconductor Generator

General Electric Co. recently selected American Superconductor Corp., a global supplier of superconductor products and power electronic switches for the power infrastructure based in Westborough, Mass., as the primary supplier of high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire for development of the world's first 100MW HTS generator. The HTS generator project, valued at $26 million, is one of seven projects that are part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Superconductivity Partnership Initiative (SPI) program.

Electric utility generators typically produce power in the range of 100MW to 1,200MW. GE believes its HTS generator will provide a breakthrough in high-efficiency generators, creating the potential for annual energy savings of several billion kilowatt hours that could translate into millions of dollars in energy savings, reduced emissions, and enhanced competitiveness of U.S. utilities in growing global markets.

Recent progress made by American Superconductor in HTS wire manufacturing has helped pave the way for the development of HTS generators with the potential for competitive cost, high reliability, rapid market introduction, and a high probability of acceptance by the power industry.

"Utility generators, industrial ship propulsion motors, and power cables represent a huge market opportunity for our HTS wires," said Greg Yurek, president and chief executive officer of American Superconductor. "The demand for HTS wires for utility generators alone could exceed the annual capacity of our new HTS wire manufacturing plant, the first commercial HTS wire manufacturing plant in the world."

The GE HTS generator is the second DOE-SPI project for which American Superconductor will be providing its high-performance HTS wire. The company announced on September 26, 2001, that it would supply Pirelli Power Cables and Systems with HTS wire for a half-mile-long, underground cable to be installed in Long Island Power Authority's transmission grid on Long Island, N.Y.

For more information, visit www.amsuper.com.

Oct. 22, 2001

TradePower Announces Winner of IEC Drawing

TradePower, Linthicum Heights, Md., recently announced the winner of its Best Buy Gift Card giveaway drawing at the 2001 IEC Convention and Trade Show held October 1-4 in Las Vegas. Terry Sabers, vice president of finance/control at Muth Electric, Inc. in Mitchell, S.D., won the $500 Best Buy gift card.

Convention attendees submitted entries for the contest during the IEC Product Expo on Tuesday, October 2. Later that evening, an IEC staff member drew the winning entry at the “Party Under the Stars” event. Alan Mech, vice president of client services for TradePower, awarded the prize to Sabers.

“TradePower is pleased with the success of the drawing,” said Mech. “We strive to make our trade show presentations both educational and rewarding for our clients and for potential users.”

Oct. 19, 2001

New Web Site Promotes Benefits of Motor Management

Greater attention to motor system management can reduce motor energy costs by as much as 18%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and in response, the Motor Decisions Matter Web site (www.motorsmatter.org) has expanded to include an in-depth motor planning kit.

The kit, which was compiled and reviewed by more than 20 experts in the electrical motor and energy conservations fields, contains information, statistics, links, and tools specially designed to assist companies in developing motor management plans and saving on energy costs. The addition to the site is the centerpiece of the group’s campaign to encourage the use of sound motor management and planning as a tool for cutting motor energy costs and conserving energy.

The kit contains information on the following:

  • Developing a plan

  • Quantifying decisions about motor repair/replacement

  • Making motor replacement choices

  • Specifying repairs

  • Developing plans for critical motors

  • Building a motor inventory

The campaign is sponsored by a consortium of motor industry manufacturers and service centers, trade associations, electric utilities, and government agencies. The group is promoting the benefits of motor planning and providing tools that enable commercial and industrial customers to develop a motor plan with the assistance of their local distributor/repair center or utility representative.

Oct. 19, 2001

Woodward, Sixth Dimension Partner to Develop Networked Control System

Equipment owners and energy providers will soon be able to participate in large-scale power marketing, generate new revenue streams, and lower their energy costs significantly, thanks to a partnership between Woodward Governor Co., Rockford, Ill., and Sixth Dimension, Ft. Collins, Colo., in which the two entities will develop a “networked generation” control system for power generation equipment.

Based on a combination of Sixth Dimension’s Intelligent Network service delivery infrastructure and a line of digital generator system controls from Industrial Controls, a Woodward business, the networked generation approach allows energy managers to manage power generation, power consumption, and maintenance operations more efficiently.

A demonstration site has been set up at the Woodward Engine Lab in Ft. Collins, where a bank of EGCP-2 generator set controls are tied into Sixth Dimension’s fully managed, digital network. Through any Internet browser, Woodward engineers can issue commands to remotely dispatch and monitor any of three gensets at the site.

"Because our new controls network the entire engine/generator package, this connectivity provides a wide-open gateway for energy and service providers to monitor and control virtually every device on the generator platform - in real time," says Paul Johnson, marketing manager for Woodward's power management products.

Oct. 18, 2001

ABI Releases Report on the Burgeoning Fuel Cell Market

Members of the electrical industry interested in the future of alternative energy sources have a new resource for information on the subject. Allied Business Intelligence Inc. (ABI), Oyster Bay, NY, has released “Fuel Cell Industry Competitive Analysis: Defining the Strategies of Fuel Cell Industry Players,” a new study that provides global growth projections for the fuel cell market through 2011.

“The fuel cell industry’s progress has been exceptional, and we are seeing an increasing amount of serious interest from various industries,” says Atakan Ozbek, vice president of energy research at ABI and author of the study. “However, there is still a lot to accomplish in order to achieve commercialization.”

According to Ozbek, ABI’s first industry-wide fuel cell competitive report has been prepared to give readers a realistic analysis of the three major market segments: automotive, stationary, and portable fuel cells. The study covers the early market leaders, providing the company’s main interests, key staff, strengths, weaknesses, and the final outlook for each company in the coming year.

Oct. 17, 2001

Ault Signs Private-Label Deal With MagneTek

Ault Inc., Minneapolis, recently signed a private-label agreement with MagneTek, Atlanta, to sell the company’s line of compact, high-density DC/DC converters for networking, telecommunications, and industrial aerospace computing equipment.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ault will private-label MagneTek’s new line of quarter-brick and half-brick, high-density converters. The units are available in 48V input, with output choices of 1.5V, 1.8V, 2.5V, 3.3V, and 5.0V.

Ault’s private-label DC/DC line will be sold domestically through its national network of independent representative firms, national and regional distributors, as well as internationally through its distributor network.

For more information, visit www.aultinc.com.

Oct. 17, 2001

Rockwell Signs Automation Asset Management Service Agreements

Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, recently signed agreements with six major manufacturers for the management of maintenance repair and operations (MRO) assets at eight facilities in the United States. Representing more than $5 million in annual revenue for Rockwell, these service agreements with companies involved with transportation, tire and rubber, and automotive and consumer products cover approximately $450 million in automation assets.

Under the terms of the agreements, Rockwell’s Global Manufacturing Solutions business will assume inventory and MRO asset management responsibilities at each of the eight facilities.

For more information, visit www.rockwellautomation.com.

Oct. 15, 2001

ACEC Study Finds More Engineers Offering Construction Management

According to a recent article in Last Word, the American Council of Engineering Companies’ newsletter, consulting engineers are moving more into construction management (CM). According to the organization’s 2001 Business Trends Survey of 587 firms, CM ranked as one of the top three disciplines in 21% of the responding engineering firms. In fact, the study revealed engineering clients in both the public and private sectors prefer more full-service capabilities. They want one source of responsibility for a project’s management, and see engineers as the key for bringing the project components together successfully.

In addition, the study indicated that engineers perceive construction management services as a top-tier discipline—respondents including CM in their top three fields increased from 15.8% in 2000 to 21.5% in 2001. The percentage of survey respondents who included these disciplines among their top three fields of practice include:

  • Civil—65

  • Surveying—29

  • Structural—26

  • Environmental—24

  • Construction management—21

  • Planning—18

  • Mechanical—17

  • Electrical—17

  • Geotechnical—9

  • Architectural—9

  • Program management—5

“We believe construction management will continue to increase as a desired engineering service,” says ACEC President Dave Raymond.

Oct. 15, 2001

Lithonia Lighting Enhances Web Site

Lithonia Lighting’s Web site, www.lithonia.com/CutoffLighting, now features an environmentally friendly outdoor lighting section, including information on quality outdoor lighting standards, trespass issues, design recommendations, luminaire cutoff classifications, and products equipped with application-specific optical systems.

This site is of interest to lighting designers and installers as well as city, county, and state officials who are addressing a heightened citizen awareness of light pollution and striving to achieve community responsive designs.

Oct. 12, 2001

NSI to Acquire T&B Product Lines

National Service Industries (NSI), Atlanta, recently reached an agreement to acquire the assets of the American Electric and Dark-To-Light product lines of the Thomas & Betts Corp. (T&B), Memphis, in an all-cash deal. The boards of both companies have approved the transaction, which should be completed within the next two weeks. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The American Electric and Dark-To-Light product lines, with annual revenues of approximately $80 million, include outdoor lighting products (luminaires and electronic photocontrols) sold principally to the commercial, industrial, utility, governmental, and institutional markets. The sale is an asset sale and includes two manufacturing facilities: Bainbridge, Ga., and Monterrey, Mexico. After the acquisition is completed, these product lines will become an operating unit of NSI's Lithonia Lighting Group. Headquartered in Conyers, Ga., the Lithonia Lighting Group (with 2001 annual revenues of $1.5 billion and 8,500 employees) is among the world's largest lighting product manufacturers.

Oct.12, 2001

Study Offers End-User Solutions for Grid Reliability Problems

Although the days of summer have ended, the reliability of our nation’s grid remains a serious problem. The U.S. grid typically provides three 9s or 99.9% reliability, which equals almost 9 hr of downtime per year. For industries that demand high uptime (typically six 9s or higher), this amount of downtime is simply unacceptable.

While conducting research for its "North American Market For Grid Power Solutions: Distributed Generation & Ride-Through Technologies" study, Venture Development Corp. (VDC), a Natick, Mass.-based technology market research firm, interviewed a sample of end-users demanding high reliability. One datacom end-user mentioned losing "$100,000 in lost sales per minute" while another telecom respondent cited losing "$1,000,000/hr just in lost revenues."

After asking end-users which products they owned or were interested in using to solve grid reliability problems, the firm compiled the following statistics:

End-User Interest In Distributed Generation

  • Diesel Recip Gen-sets - 81%

  • Non-Diesel Recip Gen-sets - 60%

  • Battery UPS - 51%

  • Small Gas Turbines - 28%

  • Static Transfer Switches - 26%

  • Microturbines - 21%

  • Flywheels - 15%

  • Fuel Cells - 11%

  • Photovoltaics - 6%

  • Wind Turbines - 6%

According to the study, the vast majority of end-users use or plan to use a recip gen-set/battery UPS solution to meet their high reliability needs in the future. Historically, end-users have used this setup to meet their electricity requirements. However, other technologies are emerging as alternative solutions. Recent fuel cell, microturbine, and flywheel developments have made these products much more attractive to end-users. In fact, VDC expects North American revenues for these three products to reach nearly $1.7 billion by 2005.

For more information on the study, e-mail joanp@vdc-corp.com, nathana@vdc-corp.com, or msr@vdc-corp.com.

Oct. 12, 2001

NAHB Predicts Increased Housing Starts in Late 2002, Early 2003

Despite the steadily weakening economy and the additional strain on consumer confidence caused by the September 11 attacks on America, the housing industry will rebound in 2002 and the number of housing starts will rise to 1.68 million units in 2003, according to predictions made in a report released by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

In the report, “Housing and the Economy in the Aftermath of the September 11 Attacks on America,” author David F. Seiders, chief economist for the NAHB, points out the U.S. economy faces a recession that could result in an unemployment rate of 5.7% by the second quarter of next year. However, the association predicts the economic downturn will be short-lived.

A poll conducted by the NAHB September 19-20 found that although traffic of prospective buyers of new homes dropped by 10% to 20% shortly after the attacks, the rate of cancellations on previous sales contracts had not spiked.

The current construction market is weakening, but the NAHB remains confident. According to Seiders, if there are no new major attacks on the United States, if the military campaign against terrorism has some success, and if the public stands behind the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism plan, consumer confidence should rise by the third quarter of 2002.

In particular, Seiders points to several steps taken by the federal government since the attacks that he believes increase the country’s chances of emerging from the current economic downturn with few battle scars. Moves like Congress’ authorization of $40 billion in new federal spending for disaster recovery, $18.4 billion in defense appropriations for fiscal year 2002, and the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut on October 2, could help bolster the economy, according to the association.

“It must be recognized that we are in uncharted waters, and current forecasts for the economy and housing have unusually wide ‘confidence’ bands around them,” Seiders states in the report. “Barring any additional disasters, the resilience of the U.S. economy, aided by our policymakers, should carry us through.”

For information on the report, visit www.nahb.com.

Oct. 10, 2001

Universal Lighting Technologies Updates Ballast Specs on Web Site

It just got a little easier to check ballast specification information on the Internet. Universal Lighting Technologies recently announced the upgrade of Ballast Specs on its Web site, which will allow users to access specs by catalog number or by specific search criteria. All Universal Lighting product catalog numbers are also available on the site through the online navigator catalog. Some of the search criteria include lamp type, number of lamps, starting method, THD percentage, and voltage.

Visitors to the site can use the interactive tool’s search options to identify electronic, magnetic, compact fluorescent, and high intensity discharge (HID) ballasts, and users can receive specification information 24 hours a day.

To access Ballast Specs, visit www.universalballast.com.

Oct. 10, 2001

Solar Car Employs Penn-Union Parts

Joining companies like Panasonic, Michelin, and Dupont, Penn-Union had a hand in the construction of the Queen’s University Solar Vehicle. Working on the campus of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, the Queen’s University Solar Vehicle Team, which designed and built the “Mirage” solar car, installed Penn-Union’s BLUA aluminum compression connectors in the vehicle using the company’s TDM-500 mechanical compression tool with telescoping handles.

Designed by the team of volunteer faculty and students from the university, the car can reach a top speed of 77.7 mph. The group will put the car’s capabilities to the test against teams from around the world at the 2001 World Solar Challenge in Australia beginning Nov. 18.

Oct. 8, 2001

Electric Utilities Endorse NEMA Premium Motor Program

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., continues to earn support for its new Premium Efficiency Electric Motor Program after the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) became the latest organization to endorse the program. This puts the utility industry stamp of approval on the program, considering that the Institute’s members serve more than 95% of all U.S. customers served by the shareholder-owned segment of the industry and generate approximately 70% of all the electricity generated by the nation’s electric companies. Additionally, the House of Representatives included language in the National Energy Conservation and Policy Act that would require government agencies to use the NEMA Premium efficiency motor specification as the standard for procurement.

According to NEMA, electric motors consume 10 to 25 times their purchase price in electricity each year; even small increases in efficiency can add up to energy savings that go directly to the bottom line. NEMA Premium is a program whose label makes it easy for purchasers to identify premium-efficiency electric motors. These motors—operating at efficiency levels 1% to 4% higher than the current energy-efficient motors in the marketplace—will save users money, optimize motor systems efficiency, improve reliability, and reduce electrical consumption and the pollution caused by electrical power generation.

In fact, the Department of Energy estimates the program will save 5,800 gigawatts of electricity and prevent the release of nearly 80 million metric tons of carbon emissions over the next decade—the equivalent of keeping 16 million cars off the road. NEMA Premium electric motor manufacturer partners represent about 80% of the U.S. electric motor manufacturing industry.

For more information, visit www.nema.org/premiummotors.

Oct. 8, 2001

NEMA Releases Standard on Shunt Capacitors

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) recently released its new standard for shunt capacitors, CP 1-2000.

The standard provides manufacturing, rating, and testing standards under various service conditions and application and operation guidelines for capacitors for shunt connections to AC power transmission and distribution systems at 50 Hz or 60 Hz and below.

Shunt capacitors are used in air conditioning, electronic power conversion, fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lighting, and other industrial and utility applications.

For more information on purchasing the standard, visit www.global.ihs.com.

Oct. 8, 2001

MDU Resources Acquires Two More Electrical Contractors for Power-Line Work

According to the October 5 edition of Electrical Marketing, in the continuing expansion of the utility construction segment of its diverse market interests, MDU Resources Group Inc., a North Dakota-based electric utility, recently purchased two more electrical contractors. With the purchases of Bell Electrical Contractors Inc., St. Louis, and Oregon Electric Construction, Portland, Ore., the Bismark, N.D.-based company will add $140 million in sales and increase its coverage of the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest.

Bell Electrical Contractors Inc., a 27-yr-old electrical contracting firm with 50 nonbargaining employees, 200 union employees, and annual revenues of approximately $40 million, focuses on commercial, industrial, and institutional electrical work, as well as communications engineering, design, and construction.

Bell Electrical will become part of MDU Resources’ Utility Services Inc. subsidiary. Utility Services Inc. (USI), also based in North Dakota, is an infrastructure construction company specializing in electric, natural gas, and telecommunications utility construction as well as interior industrial electrical, exterior lighting, and traffic signalization. USI operates throughout most of the United States.

Ron Tipton, USI’s president and chief executive officer, said the acquisition complements the company’s existing operations in Missouri and the central U.S., where it also owns Capital Electric Construction Co. Inc., Kansas City, and Capital Electric Line Builder Inc., Leavenworth, Kan. It acquired these companies earlier this year.

“Bell Electrical is a leading contractor in its market,” said Tipton. “Through its diverse capabilities, the company has become a single-source provider for its electrical contracting services.”

The acquisition of Oregon Electric Construction gives USI/MDU Resources another electrical contracting firm with expertise in power-line construction. The 50-yr-old contractor specializes in new construction, repair, maintenance, and service work for high-tech, industrial, health care, commercial, institutional, and power generation customers. The company also provides preconstruction, design-build, design-assist, and turnkey services for both electrical and integrated systems work. The company has 100 nonbargaining employees on staff and up to 600 union employees.

USI’s Tipton says the acquisition will help the company expand in the Northwest.

“Our expanded services will include inside electrical construction, specialized, low-voltage systems, electrical service, and maintenance along with power plant controls and installation,” he said.

The management teams of Oregon Electric and Bell Electrical will continue to manage the operations.

Since its start-up in 1997, USI increased its revenues to $169 million in 2000. The company has grown primarily through acquisition, and through its acquisitions this year expects 2001 revenues to top $400 million. Along with this year’s purchases of Oregon Electric, Bell Electrical, the Capital Electric companies, the electrical contractors that the company owns include Wagner and Smith, Dayton, Ohio; International Line Builders, Portland, Ore.; Harp Line Construction Co., Kalispell, Mont.; and Pouke and Steinle Inc., Riverside, Calif.

Its parent company, MDU Resources, is a natural resource company with $1.87 billion in 2000 annual sales that focuses on construction materials and mining operations, oil and natural gas production, sales and transportation of electricity, natural gas, and natural gas transmission and storage.



Oct. 4, 2001

NSPE Helps Engineers Make Career Transition

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), Alexandria, Va., recently launched its Career Transition Program, one of four different mentoring programs created to deliver professional guidance to engineers. Sponsored by the Professional Engineers in Industry practice division of NSPE, the Career Transition Program is designed to assist engineers with the challenges they face when making a career change.

"Today's job market is extremely competitive, even with the shortage of professional engineers in our country," said Clyde Nagata, PE, career transition chairperson. "Career Transition services, offered through NSPE, position engineers for their next career move or promotion, wherever that may be."

Starting in September, the Career Transition Program is sponsoring five two-day "Managing Your Career" seminars in Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and Houston. These seminars will provide attendees with access to personalized, one-on-one career training with Lee Hecht Harrison, a leader in career management services. Seminar participants will learn important career transition strategies, such as self-assessment, skill identification, and interview training.

For more information on the program or to attend a seminar, e-mail Erin Garcia, PEI Program Manager, at egarcia@nspe.org or visit www.nspe.org/pei/.



Oct. 4, 2001

New Broadband Subscribers Want the Whole Nine Yards

Contrary to popular belief, households that have had broadband service since its inception are less likely to be receptive to advances in the technology than the next wave of broadband households who have yet to subscribe to broadband services, according to a report soon to be released by Parks Associates, Dallas.

The report, “Bundled Services & Residential Gateways,” is based on a survey conducted by Parks Associates in July 2001 of 2,500 households. It suggests that consumers likely to upgrade to broadband service in the next twelve months are more interested in advanced services such as video-on-demand and audio networking when compared to current broadband subscribers.

“These findings are what most network operators and application service providers assume about consumer demand for broadband-enabled services,” says Michael Greeson, senior analyst for Parks Associates and author of the report. “This is extraordinarily good news for broadband service providers who are depending on these new services to grow revenue and now can seize an opportunity to sell them as an optional package with standard broadband services.”



Oct. 2, 2001

Graybar's Journey to the Center of the Earth

When deciding where to locate its twelfth distribution center, Graybar wanted to do something special—so it went underground. Housed in the 2.5 million sq ft Springfield Underground complex in Springfield, Mo., Graybar’s new 186,000 sq ft warehouse and office, which includes 15 truck docks and parking for visitors and employees, will operate completely underground.

The company will use the new distribution center to provide next-day service to customers in a seven-state area that includes Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, and parts of Illinois, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Sales and customer service functions, as well as counter and will-call service continue to be handled out of existing Graybar branches in the region.