May 31, 2002

NERC lobbies Congress for electric reliability watchdog organization

Although careful to state that it has no interest in infringing on the domain of local and state authorities, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) recently voiced its support for the revisions that have been made to Section 206 of the Securing America’s Future Energy Act of 2001 (the SAFE Act of 2001), which call for Congress to authorize the creation of an industry-led organization subject to oversight in the United States by NERC that would set and enforce compliance with reliability standards.

In a May 23rd letter to W.J. Tauzin, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and original sponsor of the bill in the House, and Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, NERC President and CEO Michehl R. Gent, with the backing of the American Public Power Association and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, urged the House and Senate to come together on the proposal.

The Safe Act was presented “to enhance energy conservation, research and development and to provide for security and diversity in the energy supply for the American people, and for other purposes.” It was originally approved by the House, with voting split along partisan lines.



May 31, 2002

Washington State saves energy at natural resources building


Washington State’s Natural Resources Building (NRB) has installed 16 of The Watt Stopper’s Complete Control Lighting Control Panels throughout its seven-story, 300,000 sq ft facility. Savings analyses predict that NRB will save more than 1 million kWh in lighting, and another 400,000kWh is expected in HVAC savings. NRB anticipates $49,000 in annual savings.

Prior to installing the new system, NRB’s lights weren’t automatically controlled, and the state was eager to reduce its lighting usage. Complete lighting control panels now control lighting throughout the entire building, including bathrooms and perimeter areas. Occupants manually turn on lights in the morning, and each area features a scheduled automatic shut-off time.



May 29, 2002

Sun Power sets distributed generation project in motion

Chosen in April as one of five industry teams to receive funds from the Department of Energy (DOE) for the purpose of developing and testing distributed energy resources, Sure Power Corp., Danbury, Conn., announced this week it has begun work on the project. With $2.2 million from the DOE, the company hopes to integrate one of its high-availability on-site generation systems into an existing Internet data center facility.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham says the DOE’s goal in initiating the project was twofold. “This effort is one of several geared to develop an energy supply system capable of meeting the needs of the 21st century,” Abraham said. “It also addresses the goal set by President Bush in the National Energy Plan of providing for a reliable energy infrastructure.”

According to Sure Power, the system will provide high-availability, computer-grade electricity and cooling that is flexible, scalable, and can support existing loads, future growth, and expansion plans, while exceeding clean air regulations and increasing energy efficiency.

Also awarded money by the DOE for similar projects were EPRI-PEAC, Knoxville, Tenn.; Honeywell, Minneapolis; Verizon, Harrisburg, Pa.; and Durst Development, New York City.



May 29, 2002

Band-It updates Web site, includes online catalog

Band-It has updated its Web site (www.band-it-idex.com) with the inclusion of an “Applications” section to help customers and prospective customers in product selection. The update will be accompanied by the addition of the “Engineering Zone” in the third quarter, which will provide testing and product data for design engineers.

The company has also made available its catalog as a downloadable Adobe Acrobat file. The catalog provides details about the company’s range of stainless steel clamping, identification and sign mounting systems, installation tools, cable ties, specialty hose fittings, and accessories.



May 26, 2002

NLB announces 23rd Annual High-Benefit Lighting Awards

The National Lighting Bureau’s (NLB) 23rd Annual High-Benefit Lighting Awards Program is now open to anyone who had some role in influencing modification of an existing lighting system or development of a new one. Submissions should document how the new lighting contributed to improved productivity or increased retail sales.

All persons who enter the awards program will receive a hand-inscribed certificate of participation. If an entry is developed into a case history, the person submitting the information will serve as a bylined author of a magazine article.

To be eligible for consideration in the 2002 High-Benefit Lighting Awards Program, the project involved must have been completed on or after January 1, 1999. Entries must be received no later than October 31, 2002. Visit www.nlb.org for more information on entering.

High-benefit lighting is a term used by NLB to designate electric illumination that is designed to spur significant bottom-line savings.



May 26, 2002

Orion Lighting awarded for environmentally friendly installations

Orion Lighting & Energy Services, Plymouth, Wis., was one of nine Wisconsin companies to recently receive the Wisconsin Business Friend of the Environment Award for outstanding achievements in environmental protection. According to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formula, the company has provided a considerable source of energy efficiency to several manufacturing, warehousing, and distributing facilities throughout the state.

Over the last 4.5 yr, the company has completed energy efficiency projects that have displaced approximately 42 MW of electricity with a decrease in air pollution and environmental damage of 251,899 tons of carbon dioxide, 926 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 2,147 tons of nitrogen oxide each year, according to a company press release.

“Orion believes that sound environmental practices can make even better business sense,” says Stephen Heins, Orion’s director of communication. “By saving on electrical consumption and costs, Wisconsin will need fewer new power plants, and at the same time, Wisconsin businesses can improve their bottom lines.”



May 24, 2002

Siemens supports control studies at Georgia Tech

Siemens Energy, Alpharetta, Ga., recently made a donation of cash and equipment to the Georgia Institute of Technology to support several undergraduate and graduate programs in the study of automation and control technologies. The 5-yr commitment includes $105,000 and an undetermined amount of automation hardware, software, and related peripheral equipment to establish four new control laboratories on the Atlanta campus.

The money will fund a program that sponsors two graduate fellowships for 2 yr each, during which time the graduate fellow will develop experiments for undergraduate students.

Siemens is no stranger to the Georgia Tech campus. The company participates in programs like electronics manufacturing research at the Center for Board Assembly Research (CBAR) at the school’s manufacturing research center, and GT serves as the southern regional university partner for the Simens Westinghouse Science and Technology award.



May 24, 2002

Cummins teams with Premier, Inc. to bring on-site power to hospitals

Cummins Power Generation, Minneapolis, recently signed a 3-yr, non-exclusive contract to supply its PowerCommand generator sets, control systems transfer switches, and switchgear to Premier, Inc., a purchaser for the U.S. healthcare industry. The contract period extends through the end of September 2004 with an additional 2-yr option.

Local distributors will sell and service the equipment, as well as conduct site evaluations and assist with installation. Member facilities have the option of using the company’s PowerCare Advantage Program for planned maintenance.

The healthcare industry spends nearly $110 million annually on on-site generation systems.



May 22, 2002

Majority of U.S. to enjoy reliable power this summer, report says

Transmission limitations and tight capacity margins this summer will create the potential for electrical grid reliability problems in southwestern Connecticut and southern Nevada, respectively, according to the North American Electric Reliability Council’s (NERC) 2002 Summer Assessment. The problems are contingent upon any delays in the installation of new resources, lower than expected generating unit availability, or extreme weather.

However, generating resources will be adequate to meet projected demand for electricity in the remainder of North America this summer, according to the report. It acknowledges the potential for congestion but also states that transmission systems in North America are expected to perform reliably.

Areas with a history of power reliability problems in recent years like California, New York City, and Long Island are expected to have adequate capacity margins throughout the summer. California has added nearly 5,000 MW of generating resources, while New York City and Long Island have upped their generating capacity by almost 450 MW.

“Capacity margins have increased substantially in several areas of North America during the past year,” says Michehl R. Gent, president and CEO of NERC. “And although much of North America is experiencing drought conditions, we do not expect this to materially impact reliability.”

The full report is available at www.nerc.com/~filez/rasreports.html.



May 22, 2002

SkillsUSA to test your leadership skills

Are you a born leader? When you say, “Jump!” do people ask, “How high?” If you think you’ve got the leadership mettle, SkillsUSA will be holding its National Leadership and Skills Conference and 38th SkillsUSA Championship in Kansas City, Mo., June 24-28, 2002. More than 4,000 students are expected to compete in 73 contests covering everything from construction technology to electrical skills.

All contests are run by and judged by representatives of industry using industry performance standards. The total in-kind contributions from industry and education – in donated time, equipment, and material – is valued at $25 million.

For more information on attending the competition, contact SkillsUSA at (703) 777-8810.



May 20, 2002

NECA releases confined space entry guidelines

NECA recently released Confined Space Entry Guidelines (2002), the latest in its series of safety publications and services intended to help electrical contractors protect their workers on the jobsite. The guidelines are intended to help contractors comply with applicable OSHA regulations and customer requirements.

The publication provides information on the following:

  • OSHA Part 1910 and 1926 standards, policies, and interpretations

  • Confined space hazards and accident causes

  • Sample task-specific confined space entry procedures

  • Safety training program requirements

As defined by OSHA, confined spaces range from manholes and tunnels to crawl spaces under buildings and crowded equipment closets. Their size reduces mobility, communications with other workers, and makes emergency exiting difficult.

The publication is available from NECA for $45. For ordering information, contact the NECA Order Desk by phone at (301) 215-4504 or by email at orderdesk@necanet.org.



May 20, 2002

Northeastern utility rolls out Electric City energy-saving units

Energy service provider PSEG Energy Technologies recently took the first step in its agreement with Electric City to market the switchgear manufacturer’s energy-saving technologies by installing an EnergySaver unit at a retail chain store in Paramus, N.J. PSEG ET has an agreement with Electric City to install the company’s EnergySaver and GlobalCommander units for its existing customers in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

According to an Energy City press release, the initial energy savings for the recently installed unit has been measured at 20% with an anticipated payback of 18 mo.

“Our alliance with Electric City allows us to provide our customers with a proven technology to help reduce their electrical consumption and save money,” says Keith Hartman, PSEG ET’s director of lighting solutions. “It also provide us with a future opportunity to aggregate large-scale energy savings that can be sold back to local energy suppliers through Electric City’s Virtual Negawatt power plant system.”

Pending continued evaluation of the unit’s performance at this initial installation site, the retailer is evaluating the installation of more units at its 200 nationwide stores.



May 17, 2002

Graybar to supply lights and communications products to the feds

Graybar recently announced is has signed two, 5-yr contracts with the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide lamps, ballasts, and technology products to the federal government. Terms of the contracts weren’t disclosed.

Under the first contract, the St. Louis-based electrical products distributor will sell lamps and ballasts - including incandescent, fluorescent, and high-intensity lights – to federal offices, military posts and bases, and other governmental installations across the country.

The contract for the technology products includes the distribution of communications and data products for internal fiber optic networks at federal facilities.

According to a company press release, the contracts are part of Graybar’s recent desire to increase its sales to federal, state, and municipal governments – a project that prompted the establishment of a division dedicated to such sales.



May 17, 2002

Richardson Electronics launches fiber optic business unit

With plans to deliver products for the V/D/V market, Richardson Electronics has thrown its hat into the datacom ring and announced the formation of its new fiber optic communications business unit. Among other products, the LaFox, Ill.-based RF and wireless communications product manufacturer will provide connectors and cables, subsystems, and passive and active components.

The new business unit will be headed up by Steve Pavlik, the company’s new business unit director.

For more information, visit www.rell.com.



May 15, 2002

Cooper Bussman releases updated circuit protection catalog

Cooper Bussmann, St. Louis, has made its updated Circuit Protection Solutions catalog available for order on the Web. The 230-page guide, intended for engineers, contractors, electricians, plant maintenance workers, and electrical inspectors, includes information on the company’s full product line.

The catalog covers the following products, among others:

  • Electrical power fuses

  • Fuseblocks and holders

  • High-speed fuses

  • Fuse accessories, displays, and kits

  • Disconnect switches

It also includes a 20-page fuse technology training section with information about the basics of circuit protection. For ordering information, visit www.bussmann.com.



May 15, 2002

Cabling market posts good numbers in 2001; increases expected to continue

After logging $101 million in sales in 2001, the U.S. residential cabling market is expected to climb by 75% per year to reach $541 million in 2004. The figures, based on a study recently released by BSRIA Worldwide Market Intelligence, predict that in the same 3-yr period the United States will account for 60% of world sales if current rates remain constant.

The report was compiled from 125 interviews with cabling experts and manufacturers. Placed against the numbers for commercial cabling sales ($4.43 billion in 2001), residential wiring figures are comparatively small, but the market for the latter is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years, while the former is predicted to stagnate.



May 13, 2002

IEEE releases updates to battery storage standards

The IEEE standards board recently approved a revised version of IEEE Standard 1187, Recommended Practice for Installation Design and Installation of Valve-Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) Storage Batteries for Stationary Applications, reflecting new knowledge about such batteries. The changes have made the standard consistent with other similar recommended practices.

IEEE 1187-2002 included recommended design practices and procedures for the storage, location, mounting, ventilation, instrumentation, preassembly, assembly, and charging of VRLA batteries in stationary use.

For more information on the revised standard, visit grouper.ieee.org/groups/scc29.



May 13, 2002

Tyco Electronics uses lasers for fiber termination

Tyco Electronics, Harrisburg, Pa., recently won a United States patent for a process it developed that uses a laser beam to prepare fiber end-faces for termination in connector assemblies and optical devices. According to a company press release, the use of a laser increases both accuracy and versatility.

The process is not new to the company, having begun using the concept of using a laser to cleave and shape fiber end-faces several years ago in Holland. The technology just recently became suitable for mainstream use.



May 10, 2002

BICSI releases new edition of Telecom Dictionary

Expanding its original edition by almost 50%, BICSI recently released the second edition of its Telecommunications Dictionary. The volume, which includes North American, European, and Australian terms, has a listing of international telecommunications standards, codes, and regulations, as well as contact information.

Defined and refined by a panel of industry experts, the dictionary is intended to be the standard for all glossaries contained in BICSI technical publications. It is available to BICSI members for $29 and to nonmembers for $39. Visit www.bicsi.org for information on ordering.



May 10, 2002

GE Supply to launch logistics business unit

Using the assets it acquired in the purchase of Questron Technology, Inc. and its subsidiaries, GE Supply, Shelton, Conn., recently launched GE Supply Logistics, LLC. The new Dallas-based business unit will develop and distribute supply chain management and inventory logistics management programs through two operating units, GE Supply Logistics and GE Supply Aerospace Logistics.

According to Jason Jones, who has been named president and general manager of the new unit, Questron was an ideal fit for the company. “The combined organizations will benefit from a natural synergy between our mutual customer bases, which include the aerospace industry, commercial and industrial users, and OEMs.”

Questron filed for Chapter 11 protection in February, and GE Supply won a bankruptcy court-approved auction of Questron’s assets in April. The transaction has received all necessary approvals.



May 8, 2002

$500 million wind farm project planned for Dakotas

With plans to install 480MW of wind turbines – enough to power nearly 110,000 homes – Global Winds Harvest, Inc. and UPC Wind Partners, LLC have partnered to develop a $500 million wind farm project in Dickey County, N.D., and McPherson County, S.D.

The two companies submitted a joint bid in April to Northern States Power/Xcel Energy for the two wind power projects. When built, the wind farms will be among the largest in the country. Interconnection will occur at two high-tension power lines located in Dickey County.

The partnership is the culmination of almost 3 yr of work begun in 1999 when Global Winds investigated the potential for wind farm development in the Dakotas. The company chose the site based on the Department of Energy’s assertion that the Dakotas have the greatest wind resource in the United States, enough to provide 36% of the nation’s energy.

The company also discovered local farmers were very receptive to the idea. “From many discussions that we had with landowners and local government over the past 3 yr, we have learned that people want wind turbines on their property,” says Todd Wilen, Global Winds project manager. “In today’s depressed farm economy, wind development allows the farmer to gain a second crop - and this land can still be farmed or ranched.” A timeline for the project has yet to be established.



May 8, 2002

Fluke acquires Reliable Power Meters

Fluke Corp., Everett, Wash., added depth to its power quality monitoring and analysis capabilities in the 3-phase market by recently acquiring Reliable Power Meters (RPM), a Los Gatos, Calif.-based manufacturer of monitoring equipment. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The headquarters of the 10-yr-old company, which boasts a stable of clients including American Express, Fidelity Investments, and EDS Corp., will remain in California, and Fluke does not have plans to make any immediate changes to RPM’s network of sales, service, or technical support systems. The company’s president, Robert Moore, will maintain his position through June 2002, after which he is contracted to assist in the organization’s transition into Fluke.

Fluke President Jim Lico believes the addition of RPM will have a large impact on his company’s place in the marketplace. “To this point, our products have been designed solely for single-phase applications,” he says. “The acquisition of RPM positions us well in the 3-phase segment of the power quality market.”



May 6, 2002

BHMA releases standard for electrified locks

In response to the growing use of computers and electronic technology in access control, the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA), New York City, recently released ANSI/BHMA A156.25 American National Standard for Electrified Locking Devices, setting performance requirements for motors, solenoids, and various other electrical components used in electrically activated locks. The mechanical components of such locks are still covered by the applicable pre-existing standards.

The standard includes descriptions and definitions as well as discussions of functions for various types of products that belong in the category of electrified locking devices. The test allow manufacturers to identify and certify the type and grade of their products, including whether or not the products are suitable for outdoor use.

To purchase copies of the standard, visit www.buildershardware.com.



May 6, 2002

Hubbell acquires LCA Group

Expanding its manufacturing capabilities in indoor and outdoor lighting for industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential markets, Hubbell, Inc., Orange, Conn., recently acquired LCA Group, Inc., Iselin, N.J.,the domestic lighting division of U.S. Industries, Inc. The deal was worth $250 million in cash subject to adjustment based on unnamed circumstances.

The acquisition brings to Hubbell's existing production cababilities manufacturing facilities in six states and multiple distribution centers located throughout the United States. With the addition of LCA Group, Hubbell’s existing operations serving the same end-markets are expected to reach annual sales in excess of $800 million.

“Our growth objective is to expand in Hubbell’s core business where we can leverage our market position and experience,” says Tim Powers, president and CEO of Hubbell. “This addition is a prime example.”



May 3, 2002

Dealers to grab a bigger piece of the “installation pie”

Electrical installing dealers across the country are adding product categories to match increasing demand for wireless home networking, thanks in large part to the proliferation of broadband access in residential areas. A new study from Parks Associates also shows high-end lighting and security systems are the other two product categories finding their way into dealers’ inventories in increasing numbers.

In addition to adding categories, dealers are shedding products with poor margins and low customer demand. “No-new-wires” networking, high-end lighting, and security systems are among the most popular categories to be added, according to the survey.

The survey reveals that 83% of installing dealers believe that sales volumes this year will improve significantly over those of 2001.

“The additions correlate with the increasing penetration of personal computers in households, adoption of broadband access, and consumer concerns with security,” explains Bill Ablondi, program director of Parks Associates’ Installing Dealer ePanel. “Dealers are adding products that complement their current line and allow them to capture more of the installation pie.”



May 3, 2002

Oregon becomes first state to use renewable power at capitol building

As part of an Earth Day project to light the golden pioneer atop the Oregon Capitol Building, Solid Ground Electric, Philomath, Ore., installed 60 photovoltaic panels above the building’s west wing to make it the first state capitol building in the country to use a renewable power source.

Of the 234,000 kWh the system is expected to produce in the next 30 yr, 150,000 kWh will feed into the Pacific Gas & Electric power grid. The remaining power will be used to light the Oregon Pioneer statue atop the building’s rotunda.

“Last year’s energy crisis really brought the need for new power sources to the forefront,” says Dan McCabe, owner of Solid Ground Electric. “Our company is excited about our work on this project and others that are bringing renewable sources of energy online.”

The lighting project formed as a partnership between the Independent Electrical Contractors of Oregon, which represents the state’s merit shop electrical contractors, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 280.



May 1, 2002

Northern Power to install cogeneration for soft drink bottler

Northern Power Systems, Waitsfield, Vt., recently announced that it has been commissioned to design, build, and install a $1.9 million power system at the main California facility of Pokka USA, a contract bottler of branded American soft drinks and other beverages. The 1MW system will produce basic and standby electricity to run the bottling lines, as well as hot water for Pokka’s pasteurization processes.

The new on-site power system for the bottling facility, located about 50 mi from San Francisco, consists of a natural gas-fired generator and a sophisticated heat recovery process to convert waste heat from electricity generation equipment and exhaust into hot water necessary for pasteurization.

Northern said that once the cogeneration system is fully operational it will reduce Pokka’s annual energy bill by more than $800,000.



May 1, 2002

Amtech opens support operations in Steel City

Amtech Computer Systems, a U.K.-based electrical design software manufacturer recently opened its U.S. support operations in Pittsburgh in April. The company has plans to expand operations to 15 customer/technical support workers and software engineers in the next 24 months.

“The Pittsburgh area is ideal for us, given its base of engineers that are involved with designing power distribution systems,” says Mark Tindall, Amtech sales director. “Pittsburgh is rapidly becoming a computer software development community.”

The company decided to open the facility in the city after its participation in the Pittsburgh Forum, a five-city tour of the U.K. led by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) and a delegation of business leaders, where public and private sector representatives worked to promote the Pittsburgh region as a viable business partner and create a soft landing for companies that may be considering expansion in the U.S.