October 31, 2003

New link opened between U.S. East and West grids

A new link between the eastern and western U.S. power grids recently opened in Rapid City, S.D. The Rapid City tie will be operated by a federal agency, the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), and is 65% owned by Bismarck, N.D.-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative. Rapid City-based Black Hills Corp. has a 35% stake.

The 200MW bi-directional tie became only the sixth link between the massive eastern North American power grid and its smaller counterpart in the western United States and Canada.

“The tie converts electricity from AC to DC and then back to AC as the phases of electricity in the two power grids are slightly out of sync,” says LaVerne Kyriss, WAPA spokeswoman.



October 30, 2003

ASA endorses NICET’s Fire Protection Certification program

The American Subcontractors Association (ASA), Alexandria, Va., recently endorsed the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies’ (NICET) Fire Protection Certification program. The certification program is designed to certify technicians in the fire protection fields of fire alarm systems, automatic sprinkler system layout, special hazards suppression systems, and inspection and testing of water-based systems.

“NICET certification affirms technician’s professional stature while allowing employees to measure workers’ qualification and identify their training needs,” says Paul Stockman, NICET fire protection specialist.



October 29, 2003

Housing starts up through September

For the first nine months of 2003, housing starts are 5% ahead of January-September 2002, with single-family starts up by 8% and multi-family starts down 3%.

The National Association of Home Builders recently reported that its Housing Market Index, a monthly survey of builders, rose to 72 in October, the highest level since December 1999. All three subindexes were up, including current sales conditions, sales expectations for the next six months, and traffic of prospective buyers.



October 28, 2003

Harmonic filter industry report available

Allied Industrial Marketing, Milwaukee, recently published a report on the harmonic filter industry that provides industry data like market size, suppliers, influence of leading technologies, vital industry statistics, sales trends, and projections.

More than 50 industry suppliers are identified along with their product offerings. The report demonstrates the effect of various product technologies, along with the advantages and disadvantages of various harmonic mitigation techniques.

For more information, visit www.alliedindustrialmarketing.com.



October 27, 2003

Industrial production reports gains in September

Industrial production at factories, mines, and utilities rose 0.4% in September, following a dip of 0.1% in August. According to the Federal Reserve, manufacturing output rebounded by 0.7% after a 0.3% drop. Capacity utilization in manufacturing reached 73.1% in September, up from 72.7% in August, but a point below the year-ago level.



October 24, 2003

Study proves green buildings are highly cost effective

According to a new study conducted on behalf of 40 California agencies, investments in green buildings are paying for themselves 10 times over. The study, by the Capital E group, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and participating California state agencies, is a cost-definitive cost-benefit analysis of green building.

With this study, the California Department of Finance has signed off on the existence of financial benefits associated with improved health productivity and lowered operations and maintenance costs in green buildings. Drawing on national data for a hundred green buildings and an in-depth review of several hundred existing studies, the study found that sustainable buildings are a cost-effective investment.

To view EC&M’s article about green building titled “Eco-industrial Complex” (August, 2003), visit http://ecmweb.com/ar/electric_ecoindustrial_complex/index.htm.



October 23, 2003

NEMA standard available on CD-ROM

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., recently released a CD-ROM version of MG 1-2003, Motors and Generators. The standard provides more than 500 pages of manufacturing and performance data related to electric motors and generators, and is designed to assist users in the selection and application of the devices. The CD-ROM contains a PDF that is print-enabled and searchable for users.

For more information, visit www.nema.org/r/std/mg1.



October 22, 2003

New legislation introduced to provide businesses tax credits for training programs

Sen. Allard, R-Colo., recently introduced new legislation (S. 1625, The Apprenticeship Training and Education Act of 2003) that would provide a tax credit of as much as $10,000 per year for the first two years for an apprentice’s four-year training program. The apprenticeship programs would only be available to construction trades recognized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and approved by the U.S. Department of Labor and state apprenticeship councils.

“Many of these industries are very capital intensive and it makes sense to offer small businesses a short term tax credit to encourage productivity and stimulate economic growth and job creation,” says Sen. Allard.

“We encourage you to write or call your Senators in support of this vital piece of legislation,” says Gene Mini, IEC National President. “This tax credit will help small businesses afford to recruit and train qualified apprentices.”

To support the bill, download a sample letter that you can customize and send to your senators at www.ieci.org. Click on ‘government affairs’ at the bottom of the page, and then click on ‘write your lawmakers’.



October 21, 2003

Energy bill still held up in House committee

Lawmakers are still working to reach a final agreement on a new comprehensive energy bill. Republican leaders had hoped to wrap up the talks last week and to send the first major overhaul of the nation’s energy strategy in a generation back to the House and Senate this week, but negotiators disagreed over a handful of issues. These issues include a proposed tax credit for a planned $20 billion natural gas pipeline from Alaska, which would transport natural gas from Alaska’s North Slope down to the lower 48 states.

Members were also debating a liability provision that would shield makers of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) from some lawsuits. MTBE, which refiners add to gasoline to make fuels burn more cleanly, has been blamed for water contamination in a number of states.

Democrats, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., circulated a letter objecting to the liability protection for MTBE producer and garnered 43 signatures. Only 40 votes are needed to stop a bill.



October 20, 2003

Hilti announces new Web site

Hilti, Tulsa, Okla., recently launched Hilti Online at www.us.hilti.com, giving customers access to product and technical information. The site features simple navigation for placing orders, project lists, and an online address book. It also provides 128-bit SSL encryption, so information is always safe and secure.



October 17, 2003

Labor Department announces final rule on union reporting reform

The Department of Labor recently released its final rule on union financial disclosure requirements. The department noted it will provide accountability and disclosure of union accounting practices, as required by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

Under the new rule, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2004, unions will be required to disclose much more detailed information about their receipts and disbursements of funds, with much of this information becoming available to the general public.



October 16, 2003

Bar-Ilan University develops rechargeable magnesium battery system

A team of scientists led by Dr. Doron Aurbach at the Chemistry Department of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has developed a rechargeable magnesium battery that can be recycled thousands of times with extremely low capacity fading. The battery, which is non-toxic and non-explosive, has a 60Wh/Kg energy density and demonstrates virtually no-self discharge. It has an operating temperature of -20° C to 60° C and has an almost constant voltage of ca. 1.1V.

Idea One of Clearwater, Fla will market the battery technology.



October 15, 2003

NEMA releases reports on electrical arc flash hazard

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., recently released two papers that address the hazard of electric arc flash. Avoid Arc Flash Occurrences by Following Industry Standards introduces the hazard and the industry codes, and standards that address it, as well as requirements that facilities must comply with in order to reduce injuries, occurrences, and down time.

The second paper, Molded-Case Circuit Breakers Reduce Arc Flash Hazard Impact, identifies the impact on arc flash by molded-case circuit breakers and provides methods of determining the magnitude of the flash.

Electronic copies of both documents can be downloaded for free at www.nema.org/r/wp/arc-stds/ and www.nema.org/r/wp/arc-mccb/, respectively.



October 14, 2003

Most recent NEIS covers nonmetallic raceways

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) recently published the 22nd volume of its series of National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS). NECA 111-2003, Standard for Installing and Maintaining Nonmetallic Raceways, describes procedures for installing three types of polymeric raceways, such as rigid nonmetallic conduit (RNC), electrical nonmetallic tubing (ENT), and liquidtight flexible nonmetallic conduit (LFNC).

It also covers subjects such as properly receiving and storing raceways on jobsites, cutting and bending raceways, making joints using solving cements, and installing concealed raceways in masonry and concrete.



October 13, 2003

Rockwell Automation launches magazine

Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, recently launched InControl magazine, which is designed to be a source of information on Allen-Bradley industrial components. Focusing on NEMA and IEC industrial components, the free, semi-annual publication offers readers industry news and developments, product selection, application, and maintenance information.

To subscribe to InControl visit www.ab.com/industrialcontrols/incontrolMagazine/index.html.



October 10, 2003

Manhattan’s biggest building project protected by Bussmann low-peak fuses

The AOL Time Warner Center, Manhattan, N.Y., will be protected by an array of fuses supplied by Cooper Bussmann. The electrical circuit protection system has 25 switchboards (1,200A to 4,000A) all containing fusible switches, 500 panelboards (100A to 1,600A), 75 plug-in busway switches (100A to 600A), and 1,900 Bussmann low-peak fuses. These fuses were selected by the consulting engineer for all switchboards, power panels, and busway switches because of the high available short-circuit currents and the overcurrent protective devices.



October 9, 2003

Chloride Systems forms independent business unit

Chloride Systems, Burgaw, N.C., recently announced the formation of its UPS Emergency Lighting Systems independent business unit. This unit will provide services and products that comply with emergency lighting regulations for consulting engineers, architects, and facility managers. π



October 8, 2003

Siemens and Emcor form an alliance for building performance products and services

Siemens Building Technologies, Buffalo Grove, Ill., and Emcor Facilities Services, Norwalk, Conn., recently entered into an alliance that will provide building performance technologies, products, and services to their customers.

As part of the alliance arrangement, Emcor will purchase Siemens’ Facilities Management Services business, which provides facilities services to single buildings and corporate campuses. Financial details of the transaction weren’t disclosed.



October 7, 2003

Ideal launches annual OctoberTest promotion

Ideal Industries, Sycamore, Ill., recently launched its OctoberTest sales promotion by introducing five combinations of testers and meters. Available now through October 31, 2003, each Combo Pack Test Set is composed of two meters with complementing capabilities. Select sets come with a magnetic strap. With some qualifying purchases, customers will receive an Amp Clamp bottle opener.

For more information, visit www.idealindustries.com.



October 6, 2003

Web site offers bargains of predictive maintenance equipment

Www.pdm-shop.com is a new online shopping mall for previously owned, surplus, and reconditioned predictive equipment that offers a range of PdM products. The site features infrared thermometers and cameras, vibration analyzers, borescopes, ultrasound detection instruments, ultrasound thickness gauges, laser alignment devices, motor coil, winding testers, and metal detectors, among others.



October 3, 2003

Graybar launches new brand strategy

Graybar, St. Louis, recently unveiled a new logo and brand strategy that reflects an increased focus on offering supply chains logistics and service solutions for its customers.

“Our new brand strategy better reflects our business today,” says Robert Reynolds Jr., Graybar chairman, president, and CEO. “We have evolved into a supply chain powerhouse offering a wide range of services that lower costs and allow customers to focus on their core businesses.”

Key improvements include an enterprise resource planning (ERP) program with IBM, SAP, and Deloitte Consulting to help customers, suppliers, and employees better manage inventory, orders, and collections, while reducing costs throughout the supply chain.



October 2, 2003

EC&M Launches Online Report on the Top 50 Electrical Contracting Firms

EC&M, the source of information for 140,000+ electrical professionals, released a comprehensive report today on the Top 50 electrical contractors operating in the United States. This annual report includes details about how the giants of the electrical business have confronted one of the most difficult economic downturns in recent history to maintain their standing in this elite and powerful group.

Ranking the firms by revenue, the report also offers detailed capsule summaries for each company, and includes photos of their recent electrical construction projects. The summaries include:

  • The firms’ headquarters and branch office locations

  • Number of employees

  • Year founded

  • 2002 sales

  • Forecast for 2003 sales

  • Areas of expertise

  • Key markets served

  • And recent projects

The report also includes a regional breakout section, a copy of the survey and cover letter sent to the contractors, and complete contact information for each firm.

“The information presented in this report is the result of months of research,” said Mike Eby, editor-in-chief of EC&M. “When we began to track the leaders of the electrical contracting industry three years ago, it was with the goal of offering a look at how the big outfits stacked up against each other. As the market has waned, though, the listing has proven to be that much more useful by displaying the strengths and weaknesses of the business.”

The report is currently available for $199 on EC&M’s Research page.





October 2, 2003

Blackout casts doubt on state of U.S. power grid

The biggest blackout in U.S. history that occurred less than two months ago helped to renew a long-standing debate over the reliability of the nation’s electrical grid.

“The age of the electrical grid may not be as pressing an issue as the amount of energy transmitted across the network,” says Bruce Wollenberg, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota. “The grid isn’t overloaded, but they need more capacity so there’s more spare room to withstand outages under heavy loading conditions.”

Michehl Gent, president of the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), says that far less money has been spent to build new transmission lines than to add plants that generate power, and more power is racing across the same system. U.S. investment on transmission lines fell from $1.3 billion in 1990 to $270 million in 1998, according to figures in the president’s National Energy Policy.

However, the number of transmission lines may not be the only issue. According to Wollenberg, because companies transmitting electricity have modest profits, there are concerns that they aren’t investing in regular maintenance of transmission lines to keep them in working order.

The growth of energy trading also has exploited the lack of capacity on the electrical grid because some parts of the network aren’t equipped to handle the frequent transmissions of large amounts of power between energy traders.



October 1, 2003

Leviton introduces interactive resource

Leviton, Little Neck, N.Y., recently introduced Decora Home Controls (DHC) APTitude, which is an interactive resource that provides information on how the company’s products can automate lighting and appliance controls throughout a home. Designed to provide product and application training for distributors, installers, and end-users, APTitude features a virtual tour of a home’s interior. The tour comes complete with pop-ups describing how the products can be used for convenience, security, and energy-savings.

This resource also provides a technical manual with product information, wiring diagrams, dimensional drawings, glossary terms and definitions, and detailed descriptions of how individual DHC components work.

The DHC APTitude is accessible from the company’s Web site at www.leviton.com and is also available on CD-ROM.