Sept. 27, 2002

Ohio utility’s new power conditioning system is the first of its kind

Following extensive testing throughout 2001, Ohio-based energy company American Electric Power (AEP), Columbus, Ohio, has become the first facility to install a power quality/peak shaving batter system that uses sodium sulfur battery technology. The development of the system brought together several electrical industry vendors, including ABB Power Electronics, NGK Insulators, Tokyo Electric Power, and EPRI.

The battery energy storage system protects industrial users’ critical loads from voltage sags, outages, and voltage swells by charging combined battery modules at off-peak hours. The batteries are rated at 100kW and supply as much as 500kW for power stabilization.

The system also allows industrial users to program the level of power to be provided to the load in order to reduce the load demand from the utility grid. Since peak power usage is used in determining the electric bill, battery storage systems deliver energy to reduce the electric bill during peak hours when the per-kW of electricity is highest.

AEP will demonstrate the system for two years at its Gahanna, Ohio office park.



Sept. 27, 2002

IEC enjoys record turnout for 2002 Convention and Electric Expo

A record number of contractors and industry professionals were on hand at the Independent Electrical Contractors’ (IEC) 45th annual Convention and Electric Expo 2002 to applaud the group’s Foundation for raising almost $560,000 in equipment grants for their apprenticeship training centers. With the help of manufacturers like Siemens, Square D, and Greenlee Textron, the Foundation received enough equipment to award grants to 14 IEC chapters that requested materials.

Those on hand had several other things to keep them entertained during the convention. Keynote speaker Frank Miles discussed techniques for conquering fear in the professional and personal situations, and educational sessions ranged from labor relations issue to marketing strategies for improving business.

“We were happy to see such a great turnout for this important event,” says IEC national president Gary Baumgartner.



Sept. 25, 2002

NEMA updates standard for motors, hazard warnings

NEMA recently released revisions to several of its industry standards, among them MG 1-1998, Motors and Generators, and the ANSI Z535 series of hazard warning design and application standards.

The revision to MG 1-1998 is the third and final such change before a new version is due in 2003. The updates include a complete revision of Part 5, “Classification of Degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures for Rotating Machines, which brings the standard into alignment with the IEC 60034-5 standard.

The ANSI Z535 series underwent more extensive changes. The standards specify the size, color, and shape of symbols used to warn against different hazards. Chief among the changes is a stipulation that symbols may be used to clarify, supplement, or substitute for a portion or all of a word message found in the message panel. In the past, such symbols couldn’t substitute for an entire word.

For information on ordering either standard revisions, visit www.global.ihs.com.



Sept. 25, 2002

California state offices save money with energy management system

In response to a statewide conservation initiative, California’s Department of General Services has introduced a pilot enterprise energy management system in 65 of the buildings it manages for state government agencies. The system, developed by Power Measurement, Saanichton, B.C., Canada, and WebGen Systems, Cambridge, Mass., automates conservation efforts by monitoring and controlling power usage in each of the buildings around the clock.

As energy prices rise and conservation becomes increasingly important, the system can be expanded to include gas, water, and CO2 monitoring as well as alternative technologies like distributed generation.



Sept. 23, 2002

GE Supply begins restructuring of its Arizona operations

As part of GE Supply’s plan to restructure its Arizona operations over the next few months, Presco, a GE Supply affiliate company, will become GE Presco, a dedicated distribution business service electrical contractor customers across the state.

Under the new arrangement, GE Presco, headquartered in Gilber, Ariz., will serve electrical contractors exclusively. GE Supply will continue to serve commercial and industrial customers from its Phoenix base.



Sept. 20, 2002

Industrial control sales suggest light at end of economic tunnel

The electrical manufacturing industry continues to give conflicting signs of the health of the nation’s economy. According to the NEMA Industrial Control Business Indices, shipments of industrial controls have finally begun to turn around.

Prior to the first quarter of this year, the Primary Industrial Control index had fallen in each period for seven of the nine previous quarters; the first quarter 2002 index gained 7% over its fourth quarter level, and the second quarter index improved another 8%. This index represents U.S. orders for motor starters, contactors, terminal blocks, control circuit devices, motor control centers, and other industrial control devices.

During the last two quarters, the Primary Industrial Control and Adjustable Speed Drives index also demonstrated a slight recovery of 7%. This index provides a broader measure of the industrial control marketplace.

Despite the recent positive signs, Steve Wilcox, NEMA’s director of economics, points out that the numbers can be deceiving. “The good news it that the decline in shipment represented in the primary index appears to have bottomed out,” he says. “The downside is that after having fallen so far and for so long, the rebound has not yet turned year-over-year growth positive. Even with the improved level of the first and second quarters, year-over-year growth was –22% and –3%, respectively.”

The NEMA Industrial Control Business indices will be issued by the organization quarterly in two versions.



Sept. 20, 2002

Manufacturers introduce updates to Web sites

In the constantly evolving Internet environment, three manufactures have announced recent updates to their Web sites. Cooper Wiring Devices, A.O. Smith Electrical Products, and i2 Trade Services have added a product catalog, expanded its site, and launched a new site, respectively.

Long Island City, N.Y.-based Cooper Wiring is now offering information on its 10,000 electrical products in a searchable online product catalog. Specific product information like sizes and ratings are available in downloadable PDF format. Visit www.eagle-electric.com for more information.

A.O. Smith, Milwaukee, has also added an interactive online catalog to its site, in addition to a cross-reference tool and service shop locator. The catalog allows viewers to select a motor using one of six search fields, and the cross-reference tool makes it possible to find a motor by manufacturer’s name or part number. Visit www.aosmithmotors.com for more information.

San Diego-based i2 Trade Services recently launched its redesigned site (www.i2tradeservices.com) with new features like a “quick buy” online store, daily updated copper pricing, and PDFs of all its products and sample pages from the company’s price books.



Sept. 18, 2002

North America market for intrinsically safe equipment to increase

Already widely used in Europe, intrinsically safe electrical architecture is expected to enjoy large gains in popularity in the United States, according to a new study by Venture Development Corp. (VDC). According to “European and North American Markets For Intrinsically Safe Equipment,” the North American market for such equipment will grow 6.5% over the next five years.

Intrinsically safe products created $191 million in revenue in 2001, but the study predicts that number will grow to $261 million by 2006. Although such an increase would be impressive, the European market already dwarfs that of North America: revenue topped out at $403 million in 2001 and is expected to reach $475 million by 2006.

Intrinsically safe equipment is incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or thermal energy to cause ignition of a hazardous atmosphere in industrial facilities. The study attributes the predicted gain in the North American market to a trend to displacement of explosion-proof protection methods in North America by intrinsic safety methods, which have lower operating costs.

For more information about the study, visit www.vdc-corp.com.



Sept. 18, 2002

Energy Star home to exhibit advances in energy-efficient residential lighting

The future of lighting may just be located in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Advanced Transformer, Rosemont, Ill., and the Lighting Research Center, Troy, N.Y. are teaming up on a project to display advances in energy-efficient lighting in a residential setting. The 5,0000-sq-ft house to be used in the project is located in Saratoga Springs, and will feature a range of architectural and energy-efficient lighting technologies like compact fluorescent lamps, dimmable linear fluorescent lamps, and halogen downlighting. Open viewing begins this month.

Headed up by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star outfit, the energy-efficient lighting transformation project for residential new construction is expected to draw several thousand visitors, and the EPA hopes to enlighten builders and consumers to their lighting opportunities within the residential new construction sector. The project is part of a three-year EPA initiative.



Sept. 16, 2002

Bank of America makes move to enter wholesale energy market

The next time you make a withdrawal from your savings account at Bank of America, don’t be surprised if the teller asks if you’d be interested in buying a block of power on the electricity market. Just as big name energy traders like Enron and Aquila have gone belly up, the nation’s third largest bank has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to enter the power market and trade wholesale electricity.

According to Reuters, power industry analysts say Bank of America has already begun hiring a staff of power traders for its new operation. The Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a letter in June ruling that the bank could trade electricity derivatives.

FERC has set a Sept. 24 deadline for other electricity traders, industry groups, and consumer advocacy groups to submit their views on the bank’s application.



Sept. 16, 2002

Indiana, Minnesota adopt 2002 NEC

Nine months after its release, the 2002 NEC is only two states away from nationwide adoption. Minnesota and Indiana are the two latest states to adopt the NFPA standard for electrical safety.

The NEC was adopted by the state of Minnesota and written into its State Building Code, while Indiana’s Department of Fire and Building Services was the agency in the Hoosier state to apply the standard. Both had been using the 1999 Code.



Sept. 13, 2002

Siemens to lay off 140, maybe more next year

If layoffs and job reductions are any indication, the sluggish U.S. economy still refuses to improve. Citing a potential 50% drop in demand for its products and an overcapacity of generation capability, the Siemens Westinghouse Power Corp. in Charlotte, N.C. will eliminate 140 jobs in the first week of October, and may cut 100 more positions next year, according to The Charlotte Observer.

The newspaper is reporting that the 15% reduction in jobs will cover several departments in the facility, including production, management, and general support. The company expects the weakened demand to last through September 2004.

The plant has been open since 1969 and employs 936. Charlotte workers who lose their jobs will get severance packages based on years of service. The packages include extended pay, extended medical insurance, and a retraining allowance.



Sept. 13, 2002

Kohler to market, sell Bowman microturbines in the U.S.

On the strength of the increasing demand for onsite power, Kohler Power Systems recently signed a supply and market development agreement with Bowman Power Systems Limited that will allow the company to distribute high-efficiency, low-emission microturbine power generation systems in the United States.

Under the terms of the agreement, Kohler, Wis.-based company will begin marketing a full range of Southampton, U.K.-based Bowman’s microturbine-based combined heat and power systems in North America in the fourth quarter of 2002. The systems will carry the Kohler brand name.



Sept. 11, 2002

Philadelphia construction firm begins work on renovation project

Just because new construction has declined, doesn’t mean it’s gone completely. Syska Hennessy Group, Philadelphia, has been commissioned to design new electrical and fire protection systems as well as audiovisual, telecommunications, and lighting design for the new corporate headquarters of Chester, Pa.-based software company Synygy. The project entails the renovation of the 163,500 sq ft Chester Station power plant.

Although the construction firm is anticipating difficulties in lighting design that will be caused by the layout of the 19,800 sq ft Turbine Hall within the building, it expects to finish the project on time in July 2003. Construction begins this month.



Sept. 11, 2002

Motor distributor announces affiliation with GE

Adding another manufacturer to the list of companies it represents, 3-D Service recently became an executive flagship distributor of GE Industrial AC and DC motors, a master affiliate distributor of GE motor parts, and an authorized GE motor service center.

As an executive flagship distributor, the Massillon, Ohio-based company will be able to distribute GE’s entire line of motors. Its role as master affiliate distributor for GE will also include parts support for motor applications. Becoming an authorized motor service center means the company will offer 24/7 emergency service and repair.

For more information, visit www.3-dservice.com.



Sept. 9, 2002

Johnson Controls signs deal to distribute Aggreko power systems

Bringing with it its new fleet of portable electrical distribution equipment, Aggreko LLC, Houston, has signed a multi-year deal with Johnson Controls, Milwaukee, to join its Integrated Supplier Program. The equipment was first demonstrated and put into use at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

The distribution equipment, which consists of more than 6,000 pieces, includes a line of power generators; chillers, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, heaters, and other temperature control equipment; and oil-free compressors. Aggreko will continue to produce the equipment at its own facilities – the agreement will simply give Johnson Controls and its customers greater and accelerated access to the products.



Sept. 9, 2002

Fluke promotion will send network installers to exotic locales

Network installers and maintainers in the market for new test tools have a chance to win a trip to exotic locations around the world when they purchase from a group of Fluke Networks products between now and January 2003. Through the Vista Sweepstakes, the Everett, Wash.-based company will send three grand prize winners on a trip to a the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, Victoria Falls, Rio de Janeiro, or Mt. Fuji. The promotion applies to customers who purchase the DSP-4300 and OMNIScanner2 cable analyzers, OneTouch network assistant, NetTool inline tester, and LinkRunner network multimeter.

Distributors of Fluke products are also eligible for prizes. If a distributor’s customer wins a trip, he or she will win a home theater system. The company will also give away six portable DVD players to those distributors with the most registered customers each month.

For more information and to take a virtual product tour, visit www.flukenetworks.com/vista.



Sept. 6, 2002

NEMA releases “conduit-in-casing” guide

For members of the power and communications industries who can’t ever seem to "get the cord long enough," NEMA has released a new application guide that offers an alternate way to direct conduit around an obstacle. “Conduit-in-Casing” explains the process of laying power/communications cables under a surface obstruction, including listing types of casings, conduits, and spacers used, and detailing how the cable laying process works.

The guide was developed by NEMA’s Polymer Raceway section. It specifies the use of Schedule 40 PVC pipe, DB120 conduit, Heavy Wall reinforced fiberglass, Heavy Wall conduit, and Type C telephone duct. The guide is available for free download by visiting www.nema.org/conduitfittings/ and clicking on Standards and Other Publications.



Sept. 6, 2002

Electro-Federation Canada recognizes, encourages young electricians

After sifting through more than 260 applications, The Electro-Federation Canada Foundation has chosen the winners of its 7th annual EFC Foundation Scholarship Program. From that group, a panel of judges comprising prominent industry and educational field members chose 27 college students and electrical apprentices among whom to distribute $45,000 in scholarships.

In addition to the standard scholarship, applicants had the opportunity to apply for a new grant, funded by Honeywell Canada and Hubbell Canada. The Leadership in Education Awards, valued at $2,500 apiece, were given to two students who will also be considered for a co-op or summer placement with one of the participating companies.

“It is our hope that by raising the awareness of the many great careers available in the electrical and electronic industries, we can draw some of these students into EFC member organizations upon graduation,” said Tim McDonald, chair of the EFC Foundation and Electro-Federation Canada.



Sept. 4, 2002

Pulte Homes will continue to install Leviton networking systems in its homes

Continuing a partnership that began in September 2000, Pulte Homes has just renewed its contract with Leviton Manufacturing, making the Little Neck, N.Y.-based company the exclusive supplier of home networking systems to the homes it builds. Leviton Integrated Networks (LIN) structured media systems, which allow homeowners to link every room to a central source for TV, phone, computer networking, and whole house audio and video, will continue to be standard features in all Pulte homes.

Alan Laing, vice president of e-business, supply chain, and customer satisfaction for Pulte Homes believes the partnership is well timed, given the current popularity of such systems. “Over the past few years, homeowners have embraced structured wiring and we continue to see demand for increased customization and upgrades in home network and home entertainment packages,” he says.



Sept. 4, 2002

Graybar adds Allen Tel cabling products to its VIP program

Graybar has added Allen Tel Products to its VIP2000 program, which verifies that products have been independently tested and certified by ETL SEMKO Testing Laboratories. All of the Santa Ana, Calif.-based company’s cabling components that have been included in the VIP program – including the Versatap Cat. 6 line – will exceed the TIA/EIA and IEEE standards and be interoperable.

The Versatap line includes connectors, patch cords, patch panels, and 110 blocks. Graybar hopes that by offering the testing verification customers who purchase VIP products will be able to forego their own testing and verification.



Sept. 2, 2002

IEC and OSHA sign agreement focusing on increased workplace safety

After nearly five months of conversations and planning, OSHA and the IEC have reached an agreement on an alliance in which the two groups will promote safe and healthy working conditions for electrical contractors and employees. In particular, the agreement states that the two sides will work on reducing and preventing exposure to falls, rear-end automobile collisions, and material handling hazards.

John L. Henshaw, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, and Gary Baumgartner, national president of IEC, met on Capitol Hill last week to sign the alliance agreement, and both believe their respective organizations have a lot to gain from the coupling.

“One of the most important outcomes of this alliance is that IEC members can now take advantage of the knowledge, experience, and resources provided by OSHA,” Baumgartner says. “We want to encourage voluntary compliance with OSHA regulations and better communication between the two organizations.”

The language in the agreement also states that IEC and OSHA will work together to achieve certain outreach and communications goals like seeking opportunities to jointly develop and disseminate information at conferences, events, and through print and electronic media.

The agreement remains in effect for one year from the date of signing and is automatically renewed annually thereafter.



Sept. 2, 2002

Plug Power, Johnson Controls to bring renewable power to the Navy

Plug Power, Latham, N.Y., recently sold nine of its 5kW fuel cell systems to Johnson Controls, to be installed at three U.S. Navy facilities in California. The systems are expected to be installed in September and will operate for one year under this program.

The combined heat and power (CHP) grid parallel, natural gas-fueled, proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel systems will provide electricity and will heat hot water in the bachelor-enlisted quarters, a gymnasium and laundry facilities at the Naval Air Station North Island and Submarine Base located in San Diego. The Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls is under contract to the Navy Renewable Energy Division at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, Calif.

The sale comes after the California Energy Commission in June certified Plug Power’s 5kW stationary fuel cell system as compliant with the requirements of the state’s Rule 21 grid interconnection standard.

“The purchase of these systems represents the first major investment by the U.S. Navy in this technology and will showcase installations that can be duplicated on most military facilities,” says Chuck Combs, manager for renewable energy programs, Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, Calif.