Aug. 30, 2002

Plans for power grid merger in Northeast meet opposition

As customers of the New York power grid continue to deal with the daily threat of reduced power reliability, politicians in the Northeast are now expressing concern over the possibility of rate hikes associated with the development of the proposed Northeast Regional Transmission Organization (NRTO). The plan would join the New York and New England power grids and could be ready to serve the region’s 33 million residents as early as next year.

Representatives from smaller New England states like Connecticut and Massachusetts are worried that the new arrangement will marginalize their constituents and fail to meet their power needs at reasonable prices. In fact, a study conducted earlier this year by ISO New England and the New York ISO, which operate the regions’ respective power transmission systems, revealed New York customers would save almost $282 million over the next few years if the merger takes place, while those in New England would pay nearly $62 million more in the same time period.

However, there is talk the ISOs are considering plans to split the cost savings between the two grids. Power has been cheaper in New England over the past three years because the energy supply is more abundant – energy companies in the region have built or are in the process of building 7,000MW of new generating capacity, while New York has only expanded its capacity by 1,000MW.

The merger would require some plants in New England, now idle, to begin producing power for eastern New York. And representatives from New England ISO are confident the merger will have mutual benefits for the two sides. “Prices in both regions will decline as competition increases,” says Ellen Foley of ISO New England. “The larger grid will be more reliable, avoiding some of the summer price spikes.



Aug. 30, 2002

Siemens offers online virtual plant tour

Siemens Energy & Automation customers may live and work throughout the country, but that doesn’t mean they can’t all meet and tour the company’s plant in Atlanta without leaving their offices. Thanks to the Internet, the company is now offering a virtual tour at www.sea.siemens.com/manufacturingfacility of its plant that showcases its products and services for the electrical industry.

Web visitors can view product categories that include automation and control, power distribution, instrumentation, IT and software solutions, and services.

Aside from products, Siemens president and CEO Aubert Martin says the tour offers a glimpse into how the company’s products and services can apply to a facility, be it a manufacturing plant or a mill.



Aug. 28, 2002

EPRI taps the fountain of youth for workplace knowledge

The aging of the baby boomer generation is presenting a problem for employers in the electrical industry, as many skilled engineers and electricians reach retirement age, but the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) has a plan for retaining their knowledge and passing it along to the next generation. A new report from the organization outlines a practical process for capturing what’s called tacit knowledge, or the know-how people gain from doing a job for several years.

Drawing on research and field testing activities conducted in 2001, “Guidelines for Capturing Valuable Undocumented Knowledge from Energy Industry Personnel” characterizes techniques for eliciting valuable knowledge from experts, storing it in useful and accessible ways, and presenting it to less experienced workers in a manner that will help them perform routine tasks or take on difficult ones.

The report is a culmination of a three-year study by EPRI’s Strategic Human Performance Program to address growing concerns about workforce turnover and demographics within the energy industry. “After extended periods of employment within complex work environments, some staffers become irreplaceable – they know things others don’t and they can do things others can’t,” says Madeleine Gross, manager of the program. “With this project, we set out to address a critical question: When experts leave an organization – at the end of their shift, for vacation, or forever – how do we prevent their expertise from also walking out the door?”

For information on obtaining the report, contact Lew Hanes at EPRI lhanes@epri.com, or Madeleine Gross at mgross@epri.com.



Aug. 28, 2002

NECA releases communications systems installation guide

NECA recently released its Guide to Installing Communications Systems, which include four standards and two other technical publications that deal with proper installation of communications systems ranging from V/D/V to fire alarm to closed-circuit television. The package includes:

  • NECA 1-2000, Good Workmanship in Electrical Contracting (ANSI)

  • NECA/FOA 301-1997, Installing and Testing Fiber Optic Cables

  • NECA 305-2001, Installing Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling (ANSI)

  • NECA/BICSI 568-2001, Installing Commercial Building

  • Telecommunications Cabling (ANSI)

  • Guide to Low-Voltage and Limited Energy Systems (NEC requirements)

  • Voice-Data-Video Contractor Safety Compliance Manual (OSHA jobsite requirements and safety practices)

To order the guide, contact the NECA Order Desk at (301) 215-4504 or orderdesk@necanet.org.



Aug. 26, 2002

California water treatment plant to install solar panels

After watching its energy costs rise by 41% over the last two years, the Sewerage Commission-Oroville Region (SCOR) wastewater treatment plant has tapped Sun Power & Geothermal Energy, San Rafael, Calif., to install a 520KW solar power system on its site. The solar array, which will go online in November, will provide enough electricity to treat 80% of the wastewater that passes through the facility, making the SCOR plant the first in the country to be primarily power by solar energy.

The array will employ PV panels set on dual-tilt supports that are manually tilted up in the fall and down in the spring to maximize exposure to sunlight throughout the year for greater power-gathering efficiency. The SCOR’s board hopes that with the new system the plant can gain independence from the grid during daylight hours.

The plant serves 15,000 families and numerous industries in the greater Oroville area north of Sacramento, Calif., treating nearly 1.2 billion gallons of wastewater annually.



Aug. 26, 2002

Judge denies preliminary injunction in Trade Service copyright case

Two months after Trade Service brought litigation against competitor Material Express for copyright infringement, San Diego Federal Chief Judge Marilyn Huff denied the former’s request for a preliminary injunction that would bar Material Express from using its pricing service until a decision could be made as to whether it violated a Trade Service copyright. Trade Service had accused Material Express of misappropriating the layout and arrangement of the company’s electrical Price File Maintenance Service (PFMS) and copying various data elements from the PFMS product.

While Judge Huff ruled, in part, that Material Express could not use an exact copy of the PFMS format, she also ordered that Trade Service post a $500,000 bond to be considered as “damages” to Material Express should Trade Service fail in its copyright infringement case.



Aug. 23, 2002

New York gives $17 million to develop wind farm projects

The Northeast isn’t exactly the first place you think of when you hear the word “farm,” but New York is the latest in a string of states along the Eastern Seaboard to set aside money for the construction of wind farms. In a statement released by the office of Gov. George Pataki, the state has given more than $17 million to help develop five wind farms that will add 315MW of electric capacity to the power grid, which has shown signs of being unable to provide sufficient power to its customers.

Once operational, the farms will generate enough power in upstate New York to power almost 315,000 homes. The more than 200 turbines will cost $365 million to build and be spread out over five counties.

Pataki’s decision to provide funds for the project supports his recent executive order that requires state-owned facilities to buy 10% of their power from renewable resources by 2005 and 20% by 2010.



Aug. 23, 2002

Philips Lighting receives energy conservation award in California

In recognition of its efforts in promoting energy conservation and efficiency measure, Royal Philips Electronics’ U.S.-based lighting company recently received the State of California’s 2002 Flex Your Power energy conservation award. The award, which is part of the state’s campaign to address its much talked about energy crisis, recognizes the Somerset, N.J.-based company’s project to re-lamp an entire city block in Berkeley, Calif., with energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps and linear fluorescents to create an “energy blueprint” that has documented a considerable reduction in energy usage and cost.

In addition to the Berkeley project, the company also participated in tie-in programs with the state’s utilities and worked with partner Home Depot to conduct a business-to-business education program.

“We’re extremely honored to be recognized for our efforts and look forward to helping make visible the issue of energy conservation,” said Steve Goldmacher, Philips Lighting’s director of corporate communications, of the award.

The Flex Your Power campaign encourages residents and other organizations to be energy-conscious and take action wherever possible. The energy conservation award is given out once a year to organizations that provide leadership in implementing conservation measures.



Aug. 21, 2002

Fluke announces recall of digital multimeters

In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Fluke Corp., Everett, Wash., is voluntarily recalling almost 40,000 of its 175, 177, and 179 digital multimeters, more than 17,000 of which were sold in the United States. The recalled units can take longer than normal – as many as 18 sec - to display readings of AC voltages above 500V. Users can misinterpret the delayed reading to mean that high voltage is not present. If high voltage is present, users could be exposed to a risk of shock, electrocution, and thermal burns.

Fluke has received four reports from Canada and Australia, in which users experienced a delayed response while measuring high voltage, though no injuries were reported.

The recalled multimeters measure as high as 1,000VAC and direct VDC. Recalled units have a serial number below 79000000. The serial number is written on the back of the instrument under the hinged stand. Home and hardware stores and industrial distributors nationwide sold these testers from January 2001 through October 2001.



Aug. 21, 2002

LRC, AARP team to improve lighting for elderly

Growing older can be accompanied by several physical limitations, but the AARP Andrus Foundation and the Lighting Research Center (LRC) have completed a joint project they hope will lessen the effects of one of them. “Lighting the Way: A Key to Independence” is a list of guidelines developed by the LRC and distributed by AARP that details how to select light sources and how to install light fixtures in a way that helps older adults see clearer.

The groups’ research concluded that there are a number of ways to improve the lighting and safety in the home. Their test results demonstrated that lighting could help older adults maintain their independence and improve their quality of life. Some of the practical solutions of the guidelines include:

  • Visual changes that occur to the aging eye

  • Lighting principles for older adults

  • How to apply the lighting principles in homes

  • How to choose a light source

The guidelines can be downloaded at www.andrus.org/Independence/lightbuilders.html.



Aug. 19, 2002

Group warns New York’s energy shortage could make it the next “California”

Heat waves and the resultant spikes in electricity usage as air conditioner use increases have highlighted the need for more power plants in New York, according to the Business Council of New York. In a statement issued recently, the council referred to a day in late July when the New York power grid operator, fearing the system would be overwhelmed, pled with the public to conserve energy.

“Conservation efforts cannot take the place of increased generating capacity,” the council noted in its statement. “New York State risks serious economic damage unless it moves urgently to add generating capacity.”

The Public Policy Institute issued a report in February that claims New York needs at least a dozen new power plants capable of generating at least 9,200 MW within the next five years. Power supplies in New York City and its suburbs are stretched so thin because the construction of new plants and transmission lines has not kept pace with the region’s economic and population growth.

The Business Council has been joined by other organizations like the New York Independent System Operator, the state Public Service Commission, and the Independent Power Producers of New York State in lobbying for more power capacity.



Aug. 19, 2002

NAED creates new position on its board of directors

The Industry Data Exchange Association (IDEA) will now have representation on the National Association of Electrical Distributors’ (NAED) board, thanks to the creation of a new board position approved last week by NAED’s board of directors. Stuart Irby, president of the Stuart C. Irby Co., Jackson, Miss., will assume the position.

Thomas Naber, president and publisher of NAED, says the addition of the new board position is important now that more distributors and manufacturers are embracing e-commerce.

Irby, who is the top distributor officer of the IDEA board of directors, will have a vote in all future issues before the NAED board.



Aug. 16, 2002

IEC member voices concerns to President Bush at economic forum

Scott Harding, President of F. B. Harding Electric and Chairman of Apprenticeship and Training for IEC’s Chesapeake Chapter in Maryland, recently represented IEC at President Bush’s Economic Forum at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Designed to bring together a diverse group of government policymakers, small business owners, industry experts, and construction workers, the forum featured eight breakout sessions on a variety of economic topics. One spokesperson from each panel then gave an oral summary to President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

“The three main points I discussed in our session were reiterated in our spokesperson's remarks and restated by President Bush,” Harding says. “The permanent repeal of the death tax, one-size-fits-all regulations, and association health plans were the issues that recurred over and over again in several of the eight breakout sessions.”

President Bush discussed the decline in the construction industry and rallied the group with encouraging words. "I want to get American construction workers back to work," says Bush. "The economy has strengths that are greater than our challenges."

Harding advises contractors and electricians to do their own research and get involved by offering input on industry concerns. “Many of these Cabinet members are serious about supporting our issues,” he says. “We have to get the word out to our people that they need to get some heat on the Congress in order to get things done on our issues."

There was a lot of talk about the death tax and the need for permanent repeal, reports Harding. “Some statistics show that the death tax affects only a small number of people (i.e., one business owner),” he says. “The reality is that if the company has to be liquidated in order to pay the taxes, that obviously affects all of the employees working in that business and their families."



Aug. 16, 2002

Surge suppressor growth continues despite struggling economy

“The 2002 Power Protection Market Intelligence Program,” a new study released by technology market research firm Venture Development Corp., Natick, Mass., reports that the combined consumption of power line surge suppressors in North America and Europe will increase from $978 million in 2001 to nearly $1.5 billion by 2006—a compound annual growth rate of 8.8%. Unit growth rates are predicted to grow even faster, increasing from 58 million units in 2001 to 105 million units in 2004.

According to the study, this growth will be driven by several factors.

  • Increasing awareness among end-users of the need for surge suppression in applications other than PCs.

  • Greater functionality and new features in plug-in surge suppressors, including expanded data line protection, more peripheral on/off options, and better warning mechanisms.

  • As deregulation, grid reliability, and power quality issues continue to affect the bottom line of many companies, they will realize the benefits of surge suppression, creating a higher demand for hard-wired surge suppressors.

For more information on this report, e-mail nathana@vdc-corp.com.



Aug. 14, 2002

Genesis Cable unveils improvements to its Web site

In the hopes of better showcasing its product and services offerings, Genesis Cable Systems, Pleasant Prairie, Wis., recently announced updates to its Web site that will make it more user-friendly for everyone from distributors to installers to end-users.

The site’s new features include a literature center with technical material downloads in PDF format, an FAQ section, and links to sites where installers can purchase training videos, literature, and equipment. The site also features the company’s Connector Selector tool, which allows visitors to locate the recommended connector for any Genesis cable or wire. Customers even have the opportunity to comment on the company’s products through the feedback area of the site.

The site is active now at www.genesiscable.com.



Aug. 14, 2002

Inframation 2002 to bring together nation’s preventive maintenance workers

Plant maintenance workers interested in learning more about infrared inspections, preventive maintenance, thermal research and development, online process monitoring and control, or nondestructive testing should clear out Sept. 29 – Oct. 2, 2002 on their Franklin planners for InfraMation 2002, the third annual thermographers’ conference hosted by the Infrared Training Center (ITC) and Flir Systems. Attendees to the conference, which takes place at the Wyndham Orlando Resort in Orlando, Fla., will have 35 presentations and interactive discussions from industry professionals, ITC instructors, and thermographers to choose from during the four-day event.

In addition to the seminars and speeches, free IR applications and software clinics led by ITC instructors will also be available to attendees. For those interested in the latest in preventive maintenance products, the conference will also feature an exhibitors’ showcase.

For registration information, visit www.inframation.org or call 1-800-254-0632.



Aug. 12, 2002

Digital entertainment devices to become a bigger part of the home networks

While the vast majority of home networks among Internet households consist of data-centric devices, 11.8% have a digital audio receiver, and 10.7% have a television set connected to the network, according to a new survey conducted by Parks Associates, Dallas. “Broadband Access @ Home III,” a survey of 10,500 Internet households, found that although printers and PCs still dominate home networks, digital entertainment devices are gaining a foothold in the market.

“As entertainment-oriented devices such as home stereos and TVs become more prominent in a networking environment, network-ready products and digital services such as streaming video and audio become exponentially more valuable to the end user,” says Michael Greeson, senior analyst and director of broadband research for Parks Associates. “Electronics manufacturers and retailers, as well as service providers, thus stand to benefit as more of these devices are added to the home network.”

The company anticipates that as PCs evolve into entertainment centers, and as “thick-client” media servers find their way into consumers’ homes, digital televisions, MP3 players, CD players, and audio receivers will soon compete with PCs and printers for a dominant presence in the home network.



Aug. 12, 2002

System Sensor reminds public of product recall

With more than 100,000 of its faulty SpectrAlert wall-mount notification devices still unaccounted for, System Sensor, St. Charles, Ill., has reissued a recall of the product that may fail to operate in the even of a fire. Despite the fact that there have been no reports of any injuries or incidents involving the product, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued the recall on Nov. 28, 2001.

The units, which were originally sold between May 2001 and November 2001, are part of professionally installed fire-detection and notification systems, and consist of a strobe light and an optional horn. Of the 216,500 units manufactured, 105,000 units have been so far returned.

The devices affected by the recall have date codes that fall into one of two ranges – 010501 through 160901 or 1092 through 1112. The date code appears on the packaging and on a label on the back of the unit.



Aug. 9, 2002

California questions FERC order to replace utility governing board

The state of California is disputing the legality of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) order to install new leadership at the agency that runs the state power grid. The July 17 directive from FERC directed the California Independent System Operator (ISO) to change its bylaws to provide a two-tier governing board, replacing a board that Gov. Gray Davis installed in January 2001.

According to Bill Lockyer, California state Attorney General, the ISO cannot amend its bylaws in the way dictated by FERC without directly violating California law. “In effect, FERC has ordered the ISO to either violate California law or change California law,” he wrote in a letter made available August 7. “The ISO may not do the former and cannot do the latter.”

Davis signed into law a bill replacing the original ISO board on Jan. 18, 2001. After reviewing the board Davis had selected, FERC ruled that the new members were “insufficiently independent to operate its interstate facilities.” California now has until Jan. 1, 2003, to create a two-tiered board composed of independent members, who would have sole decision-making power, and stakeholders in the grid-like generators, utilities, and consumer groups, who would advise the independent board.



Aug. 9, 2002

TXU Energy offers energy management services

TXU Energy, Dallas, recently launched its Sentinel package of energy management services for large commercial and industrial customers. It includes energy information, supply-side, demand-side, and asset management services.

According to Jim Hess, vice president and general manager of TXU, the services will help the company not only continue its role as an energy supplier but become an advisor to its customers as well.

Two of the services, load profiling and analytic engine, offer interval data analysis to identify savings opportunities – anywhere from changing energy usage behavior to justifying facility enhancements with demand-side projects.

For more information on the services, visit www.txuesgateway.com.



Aug. 7, 2002

OSHA rethinks timetable for streetside construction rules

Amidst complaints that it was moving too fast, OSHA has withdrawn its fast-track proposal for new rules governing construction operations around streets and highways and announced plans to begin a normal public rulemaking procedure for the adoption of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.” The rule had been scheduled to take effect August 13.

OSHA received eight comments on the proposed rule, five of which were dissenting. Those opposed were concerned by the agency’s rapid timetable for implementing the rule, citing insufficient time to inform and educate members of industry about the new safety regulations. Some groups, NECA among them, were also concerned that the new rules could have put construction contractors in violation of OSHA standards on projects that had already been planned and budgeted without knowledge of the proposed new rule.



Aug. 7, 2002

Fuel cell market to take off over the next decade

The global fuel cell energy generating capacity will increase from 45MW in 2002 to almost 16,000MW by 2012 as the market shifts from R&D to commercialization on a worldwide basis, according to a new study from Allied Business Intelligence (ABI), Oyster Bay, N.Y.

“Global Stationary Fuel Cell Markets: A Detailed Analysis of an Emerging Industry,” identifies early potential opportunities in markets that can see deployment from 50W to 30MW in the United States and worldwide. The study also predicts that quality power and industrial power supply markets will enjoy higher growth rates than residential markets.

For more information on the report, visit www.alliedworld.com.



Aug. 5, 2002

Energize America announces three new sponsors for public awareness program

Energize America Educational Institute (EAEI) recently welcomed three new sponsors into its public awareness program. Magnaray International Division, Sarasota, Fla.; US Energy Capital Corp., Conyers, Ga.; and Energy Conservation Corp., Troy, Mich.; have joined the fold at the Princeton Junction, N.J.-based institute’s Energize America (EA) program.

The awareness initiative is an attempt on EAEI’s part to bring together energy users and energy service companies, manufacturers of energy-efficient products, sources of project financing, utilities, and environmental and government agencies to facilitate implementation of energy efficiency programs.

“Partnering with lighting and electrical industry leaders provides significant opportunities for the EA initiative,” says Jeffrey Barnhart, EAEI spokesperson. “As our network continues to grow, more information can be exchanged and utilized to aid corporations in locating assistance and products for implementing energy-efficient solutions.”



Aug. 5, 2002

Post Glover announces speakers for grounding symposium

Post Glover Resistors, Erlanger, Ky., has finalized the list of industry expert presentations for its free Symposium on Grounding of Industrial Power Systems to be held Oct. 9, 2002, at the Drawbridge Inn Conference Center, Fort Mitchell, Ky. The symposium is scheduled to last from 8:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The following presentations and speakers will be featured at the event:

  • Grounding Techniques for Industrial Power Systems – Jack Woodham, Jedson Engineering

  • The Added Safety Provided by High-Resistance Grounding – Cliff Normand, International Paper

  • Reactance Grounding – Phoenix Electric (speaker yet to be determined)

  • Remote Facility Monitoring via the Internet – Mike Votaw, Votaw Electric

  • High-Resistance Grounding for UPS Systems and Other Critical Reliability Applications - Mike Mosman, CCG Facilities

  • Grounding Techniques Used in China – Tony Zhao, Powell Industries

Contact Debbie Marksberry for reservations at debm@postglover.com.



Aug. 2, 2002

Electric City to install EnergySaver technology in grocery stores

Electric City, Elk Grove Village, Ill., has begun a $12 million project with A&P Food Stores to install EnergySavers in approximately 500 stores to reduce A&P’s electrical consumption for lighting. A&P will also use the units to respond to curtailment requests by utility suppliers during peak demand periods.

Electric City has also recently undertaken similar installations at the San Diego U.S. Postal Service distribution center and nine Lifetime Fitness heath and fitness facilities throughout the Midwest.

The EnergySaver is a power reduction system designed to reduce lighting costs by 20% to 50% and eliminate power spikes, drops and surges.