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August 15, 2006 A Prism Business Media Publication Vol. 5, No. 15


CONTENTS
Some Markets See Construction Slowdown

EPRI Examines Eliminating DC to AC Conversion in Business IT Systems

New Orleans Renews Policy to Waive Electrical Inspections

NEMA Reports Slower Growth for Industrial Controls

Louisiana Parish Seeks Contractor

Community Services Department Requests Bids

Business Brief

Workplace Fatalities Down 1% from 2004

IAEI Western Section Annual Meeting

EGSA Fall Technical & Marketing Conference

BICSI Fall Conference

ACEC Fall Conference


Sponsored Q&A Partners
A panel of professionals answers your questions on a variety of topics
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Bruce & Brian
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    Around the Circuit
    Some Markets See Construction Slowdown
    Growth in the residential and civil project sectors is forcing a slowdown, according to Reed Construction Data. However, the value of starts will remain at a high level, especially for nonresidential buildings, but will grow slightly less than construction cost inflation through 2008. However, the 28% surge in total construction starts in 2004-5 will keep construction site activity expanding at least well into 2007.

    The value of starts is projected to decline only 2% in 2006-7 in the troubled housing market and then increase 7% in 2008. All of the decline will be in the single-family market; multi-family starts will increase 7.7% this year and drop only marginally in 2007. This year's hottest markets, nonresidential building, will continue to be the strongest market next year and again in early 2008.

    Although growth in the value of starts is slowing in the summer and fall of 2006 from the 17.8% growth pace in the first half of the year, starts will increase 11.8% this year and a further 6.7% next year. Then, the 4.4% forecast increase in 2008 will at best match construction cost increases.


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    EPRI Examines Eliminating DC to AC Conversion in Business IT Systems
    Palo Alto, Calif.-based Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is examining whether businesses should update their IT systems with more energy-efficient systems by eliminating the conversion of alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) devices. An increasing number of microprocessor-based electronic devices use DC power, converted from standard AC supply. Other devices, such as variable-speed drives for motors, ballasts for fluorescent lights, and other equipment can also run on DC power. "Eliminating AC to DC conversions could reduce inefficiencies in powering the servers and reduce cooling loads significantly," says Clark Gellings, EPRI's vice president of innovation.

    At a recent EPRI workshop in Washington, D.C., engineers estimated that $115 in electricity savings, per saver, per year, could be achieved with DC power delivery. With an estimated 9 million servers now operating in the United States, that translates into more than $1 billion in power savings annually, and millions of dollars saved for each large data center.

    EPRI has published "DC Power Production, Delivery, and Utilization," a white paper that reviews the potential for increased reliance on DC power systems, as well as potential changes to its adoption. To download a pdf of the paper, visit EPRI's Web site.

    New Orleans Renews Policy to Waive Electrical Inspections
    The City of New Orleans recently renewed a post-Katrina policy to waive city electrical inspections. The renewal took effect Aug. 7. The original policy expired July 31. Mayor C. Ray Nagin's office, hoping to speed up the city's recovery, asked to reestablish the waiver until the end of the year, and the city council granted the extension. The council will also vote on an amendment of an earlier ordinance to create a $500 fine for city electrical violations.

    In January, the council voted to suspend a requirement that city inspectors must inspect electrical work at residential properties before the power is turned on. Introduced by former Councilman Jay Batt, the ordinance came in response to complaints that a post-Katrina shortage of city inspectors was causing two-week delays. The ordinance allows homeowners and contractors to sign an affidavit that approves the electrical work and submit it to the city so that Entergy can restore the power to the home. However, after inspecting the work of some contractors, Safety and Permits officials uncovered potential fire hazards. If the fine is instituted, contractors who have "grossly violated the intent of the electrical ordinance" will be fined.

    NEMA Reports Slower Growth for Industrial Controls
    Rosslyn, Va.-based NEMA's Primary Industrial Controls Index dipped 0.4% from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2006. However, this quarter's lower reading for the index does not necessarily reflect significantly weaker market conditions. Instead, it likely suggests demand for industrial controls has merely cooled from the rapid pace of growth observed over nearly the past two years. The industrial controls index increased 6.5%, compared to the same period a year ago, and has risen 11 consecutive quarters on a year-over-year basis.

    Leading indicators of manufacturing activity, such as new orders of non-defense capital goods (for example, aircraft) have increased well above consensus expectations and point to a slight pick-up in activity during the second half of 2006. Many plants are running almost full tilt, and resources are being stretched thin, as recent data show the aggregate capacity utilization rate for the manufacturing industry hit a six-year high of 81.1%, while 40% of producers are running factories in excess of 85% capacity. Businesses will likely have to invest in new capacity such as facilities, machinery, and equipment as well as replace any worn-out equipment in order to maintain current levels of productivity.


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    Project Watch
    Louisiana Parish Seeks Contractor
    The Department of Public Works, Jefferson Parish, La., is requesting bids for the repair and replacement of sewer pumps, motors, and control panels, damaged as a result of a natural disaster or other state of emergency. The scope of work includes rebuilding a 1 hp to 7.5 hp submersible non-clog pump, replacing an impeller 30 hp to 100 hp submersible non-clog pump, and rewinding a 30 hp to 75 hp motor. The deadline for bids is 2 p.m. CDT on Sept. 7. To download a pdf of the invitation to bid, visit Jefferson Parish's Web site.

    Community Services Department Requests Bids
    The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners is soliciting sealed bids to provide all labor, equipment, and materials for the Rabbit Hill Park Lighting Project for the Gwinnett County Department of Community Services. A pre-bid conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. EDT on Aug. 25 at the Gwinnett County Purchasing Office. Bids will be received no later than 2:50 p.m. EDT on Sept. 7. Questions regarding bids should be directed to Ann Porter, CPPB, purchasing associate III, at (770) 822-8727, no later than 3 p.m. EDT on Aug. 28.


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    Web Exclusives
    Business Brief
    Litetronics International, Inc., recently entered into an agreement to acquire Harmony Lighting effective Aug. 4. Hingham, Mass.-based Harmony Lighting's headquarters and operations will be consolidated into Litetronics facilities in Alsip, Ill., by Aug. 31. Litetronics hopes the acquisition will allow Harmony to benefit from the company's larger and more-established infrastructure. By adding Harmony's product line of CFL lamps, Litetronics expects it can better serve both companies' customers in the hospitality market.

    For more Business Briefs, visit EC&M's Web site.


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    Eye on Safety
    Workplace Fatalities Down 1%
    from 2004

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2005, which found that 62 more employees than the previous year survived the workday. The number of workplace fatalities totaled 5,702 in 2005, down from 5,764 in 2004. The fatality rate also declined last year to four per 100,000 employees, down from 4.1 in 2004. Fatal falls declined by 7%, although 2004 marked an all-time high for such injuries. An increase of fatal work injuries among workers less than 20 years of age were up about 18% from 2004, for a total of 166 fatalities in 2005. Approximately 29 fatal work injuries were attributed to hurricanes, though BLS warned that the total may rise as additional cases are identified and verified.

    Shows and Events
    IAEI Western Section Annual Meeting
    The Michigan Chapter and Western Section of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) will present the 102nd Annual Meeting of the Western Section that will be held Sept. 17-20 at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Traverse City, Mich. This year's event will include a review and discussion of proposals to the 2008 NEC and sessions on understanding and using the new UL White Book, operational temperature of electrical circuits, and hazardous locations Art. 511 and 514. For more information and to register, visit the IAEI Web site.


    EGSA Fall Technical & Marketing Conference
    The Electrical Generating Systems Association (EGSA) will hold its Fall Technical & Marketing Conference from Sept. 17-18 in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The theme of the conference, "Rising to the Challenge," will be supported by a presentations such as "The Current Economy" by Dr. Gene Stanaland, President, GSE, Inc.; a panel session on "PM Contract Forum" led by John Kelly, Jr., president, Kelly Generator & Equipment Co.; and a session titled "Permitting an Electrical Generation Installation: The Customer's Perspective" by Daren Jorgensen, president, Jorgensen Environmental. For a complete listing of events and sessions, visit the EGSA Web site.


    BICSI Fall Conference
    The BICSI Fall Conference will take place in Las Vegas from Sept. 18-21. Conference highlights include: the pre-conference seminar, "Powering Critical Assets" presented by Joe Oreskovic from Eaton Power Quality Company; "Cable Sharing: An ISO-Recognized Solution for High-Density, Low-Speed Applications," by Valerie Rybinski from SIEMON; and "Realistic Grounding Methods -- Changes to the TDMM," by Ken Michaels from BellSouth Communications Systems. All RCDDs attending the Fall Conference will receive 15 continuing education credits (CECs). For more information and to register, visit the BICSI Web site.


    ACEC Fall Conference
    The American Council on Engineering Companies (ACEC) has scheduled the Fall Conference from Sept. 18-21 in Charleston, S.C. The keynote speakers for this event are John Kasich, host of the weekly FOX News program "The Heartland with John Kasich," who will present "Political and Business Outlook," as well as Leslie Robertson, structural engineer responsible for the structural design of the World Trade Center, who will address the "outer limits" of structural engineering in his talk, "How High Can We Go?" For more information and to register, visit the ACEC Web site.
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