Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ban on Incandescent Bulbs Upheld Despite Dangers of CFL Lamps

The House of Representatives again failed to pass the “Better Use of Light Bulbs Act,” aimed at repealing legislation mandating energy efficient replacements - such as LED-based lamps - for 100W incandescent lamps which were phased out on January 1st.

The Republican sponsored bill - which ran contrary to the escalating green movement - failed to achieve the two thirds vote required to repeal the 2007 legislation. Despite the fact that energy efficient lighting will help to significantly energy use, party members believe the government has no place legislating what type of light bulbs citizens buy.

The law does not ban the use or manufacture of all incandescent bulbs, nor does it mandate the use of compact fluorescent or LED lamps. It simply requires that companies make their incandescent bulbs work better. In reality, only technologies such as LED and CFL will meet the new government requirements.

Lighting is responsible for nearly 20% of the world's energy consumption, and is one of the easiest places to save energy. But the savings will come with higher upfront costs, which will be recovered over the long lifetime of the lamps.

Failure of the bill is good news for proponents of LED-based solid-state lighting.

Recent studies have linked CFL lamps to a number of health problems including fatigue, eye strain and migraine headaches, and if broken, compact fluorescent are hazardous to your health. Some manufacturers have started to label their boxes with warnings on how to deal with a broken bulb. In fact, some states will now require that you recycle these bulbs at special facilities because of the large amount of mercury contained in each bulb.

In 2007, President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), requiring more-efficient light bulbs. The legislation - which takes effect on January 1st - specifically requires that light bulb manufacturers improve the efficiency of 100 watt incandescent lamps (lamps with a light output of 1700 lumens), by 25 percent.

The legislation will apply to 75W, 60W, and 40W lamps in successive years between 2012 and 2014., followed more stringent efficiency requirements beginning 2016.

By Peter Coyne

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cops say Cooper Thief Butt-Dialed 911

Connecticut State Police used GPS to pinpoint the location of the cell phone call and found a burglary in progress. A man wearing his cell phone accidentally dialed 911 in the early morning hours on Thursday, while allegedly stealing copper scrap from a residential housing complex construction site.
According to police, the 911 dispatcher heard noises in the background and - thinking that maybe someone was in some type of medical distress - used GPS technology to pinpoint the caller's location.

Officers arrived at the construction site and found the thief loading more than 700 lbs. of copper scrap, which he had hidden in a dumpster, into the back of his pickup truck.

A spokesperson from the Connecticut State Police said "the thief thought he was going to get away with something, but instead he butt-dialed his cell phone and put himself away."

Charged with grand larceny and criminal trespass, the 'butt-dialing thief' was released on $5,000 bond.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

T12 Fluorescent Bulb Phase Out: How Much Time Do I Have Left?

Are you still installing T12 fluorescent lamps? If so, time is running out on the opportunity for your customers to take advantage of rebates and tax incentives for upgrading to more energy-efficient alternatives.

The National Lighting Bureau has estimated that more than 500 million T12 lamps are still in use. However, recent regulations by the Department of Energy have initiated a plan to phase out traditional T12 lamps and ballasts by July 2012.

T12s were originally designed to respond to demand for more energy-efficient fluorescent lamps back in the 1970s during the energy crisis. Unfortunately, for a number of technical reasons, T12s have proved to have shorter lamp life, poor color and low lighting output.

Despite continued use, T12s are widely known as inefficient, dead technology that is easily replaced by T8 or T5 fluorescents, which are more energy-efficient, longer lasting and have better quality light.

“With available rebates and tax incentives, plus the monthly energy cost savings that occur when retrofitting to energy-efficient T8s or T5s, the upgrade virtually pays for itself within a year,” said Sean Neman, director of operations at ReGreen Inc., an energy conservation company. “People need to act fast to cash in on the available rebates and incentives while they are still available. With recent regulations virtually eliminating traditional T12s by 2012, these incentives will not be available for long."

The simplest retrofit for T12 lamp and magnetic ballast is a T8 lamp and electronic ballast. This switch-out can save 30 to 40 percent on energy costs. In qualifying areas, rebates from utilities can subsidize the cost for upgrades anywhere from 60 to 100 percent. Additionally, using the Commercial Building Tax Deduction, owners and managers can receive tax benefits up to 60 cents per square foot.

If you'd like to know more about this tax deduction, go here:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

U.S. Construction Projects Are Now Made In China

Rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure is a growing priority, with President Obama highlighting construction jobs as part of his $447 billion jobs plan. Nevertheless, more $400 million in federal funds to renovate the Alexander Hamilton Bridge here in New York has been awarded a Chinese government owned construction company. The company uses U.S. labor but the coveted skilled jobs, such as engineering and design work, are being done in Beijing. The profits will also go overseas.  

However, that is only the tip of the iceberg. China Construction America - a subsidiary of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation - has been awarded $100 million in contracts for the 50th Street Ventilation Facility as part of the Long Island Railroad East Side Access project.  CCA also holds a $65 million contract to build a ventilation building structure on the 7 Line Extension project, as well more than $42 million in current NYC Housing Authority contracts. 
At a time when we do not have enough work to support our own industry, how can our government officials justify giving away the little we do have?  
The Port Authority last year announced it was looking to the private sector to construct the replacement for the aging Goethals -- a project expected to cost $1.5 billion with a slated completion date of 2017. 
The Tappan Zee Bridge, long overdue for an overhaul, is one of 14 projects chosen by the Obama administration for expedited federal review and approval — possibly allowing work on a new $5.2 billion replacement bridge to begin as early as the spring of 2013. China Construction America is already high on the short list for both projects. 

'Savings' don’t tell whole story
Politicians have justified awarding the contract to China Construction based on numerous savings they claimed it would produce. That does not take into account the wages lost by workers who otherwise would have been employed on the project. It does not take into account the taxes those workers would have paid — from state and city income tax to Social Security and unemployment taxes. 

It does not take into account the multiplier effect, all the related benefits derived across the economy from the daily purchases made by people with jobs. It does not count all the state and local taxes that employed workers pay for schools and highways. Nor does it take into account all the tax revenue that New York State and City government will have to expend for unemployment, health care and other costs run up by people who have no jobs. In short, what may look like a "savings" is anything but

      • If people don't have jobs, they don't make money.
      • If people don't make money, they don't buy things.
      • If people don't buy things, there is less demand.
      • If there is less demand, then companies don't produce goods.
      • If companies don't produce goods, they don't need employees. 
      • If people don't have jobs, they don't make money... 

What is clear is that New York has lost an exceptional opportunity to create good-paying jobs at home during a time of high domestic unemployment.

With 25 million Americans unemployed, underemployed, working part time because they cannot find a full-time job, or so discouraged they gave up looking for a job; when millions are out of work for the longest period in our history; when millions are in the process of losing their homes because they were unable to keep up with mortgage payments after corporations eliminated their jobs or they were forced to absorb runaway medical bills, New York is providing work for a Chinese construction company, and shipping more our tax dollars oveseas

by Peter Coyne,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mercury vapor released from broken compact fluorescent light bulbs can exceed safe exposure levels

Once broken, a compact fluorescent light bulb continuously releases mercury vapor into the air for weeks to months, and the total amount can exceed safe human exposure levels in a poorly ventilated room, according to study results reported in Environmental Engineering Science.

The amount of liquid mercury (Hg) that leaches from a broken compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is lower than the level allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so CFLs are not considered hazardous waste. However, Yadong Li and Li Jin, Jackson State University (Jackson, MS) report that the total amount of Hg vapor released from a broken CFL over time can be higher than the amount considered safe for human exposure.

They document their findings in the article “Environmental Release of Mercury from Broken Compact Fluorescent Lamps.” (

As people can readily inhale vapor-phase mercury, the authors suggest rapid removal of broken CFLs and adequate ventilation, as well as suitable packaging to minimize the risk of breakage of CFLs and to retain Hg vapor if they do break, thereby limiting human exposure.

Tests of eight different brands of CFLs and four different wattages revealed that Hg content varies significantly from brand to brand. To determine the amount of Hg released by a broken CFL, Li and Jin used standard procedures developed by the EPA to measure leaching of mercury in liquids and used an emission monitoring system to detect Hg vapor.

“This paper is a very nice holistic analysis of potential risks associated with mercury release from broken CFLs and points to potential human health threats that have not always been considered,” according to Domenico Grasso, PhD, Editor-in-Chief and Vice President for Research, Dean of the Graduate College, University of Vermont.

By Mary Ann Liebert / Environmental Engineering Science  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thomas & Betts Sold for $3.9 Billion

ABB, the world’s largest maker of power-distribution equipment, agreed to buy Memphis, Tennessee-based Thomas & Betts Corp. for $3.9 billion to expand its North American offerings of low voltage equipment.

ABB is paying $72 per share in cash for Thomas & Betts – 24% higher than Friday's closing price on the New York Stock Exchange. Thomas & Betts employs 9,400 people, generating more than $2.3 billion in revenue last year.

Thomas & Betts marks the second major acquisition for Zurich-based ABB under Chief Executive Officer Joe Hogan, who joined the company in 2008 from General Electric. 

He bolstered ABB's market position in the U.S. with the January 2011 purchase of motor giant Baldor Electric for $3.1 billion. That deal added industrial motors and drives and gave ABB heft in automation, where it competes with Siemens.

“Because our products are complementary, we’ll go to market with one of the broadest offerings in the industry,” Hogan said in the statement. “Strategically, it’s a great fit.”

ABB said it plans to reap $200 million annually from the purchase by 2016, mainly from sourcing and purchasing. Thomas & Betts CEO Dominic Pileggi will be in charge of the new global business unit, ABB said.

Thomas & Betts was founded in New Jersey in 1898, as a sales agency for electrical wire and raceway.  It now makes cable ties, electrical fittings and steel outlet boxes used in the electrical, telecommunications, construction and utility industries. 

ABB has said the Thomas & Betts purchase may boost annual sales growth by as much as 4 percent until 2015. 

By 2015, ABB wants to generate as much as 30 percent of revenue from the region, compared with 19 percent in 2010. 

The company has said that it will continue to focus on power and automation and does not intend to divest assets.

Friday, March 2, 2012

ElectricWeb-Boston | Website Launch April 1st

ElectricWeb Communications, LLC is pleased to announce the opening of our new Boston office on March 1, 2012. The Boston office will focus primarily on providing information and online services. We are excited about this new opportunity to expand our business and better serve our customers in the New England region. The scheduled launch date for is April 1, 2012.