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Month: April 2010

Good Enough for Show, but not First Place

Good Enough for Show, but not First Place

Today’s first take on real GDP showed that the U.S. economy expanded 3.2% on an annualized basis during the first three months of 2010. Many of the underlying details suggest that the economy remains on a path to recovery; however, even though the data have reduced the probability of a double-dip recession to a very small number (practically zero, in our opinion), the chances of a V-shaped recovery also appear to be slim. The report contained some positive bits of news to be sure, such Read more [...]
A Presidential Spokesman for the Industry

A Presidential Spokesman for the Industry

Not many industries can lay claim to a U.S. president as a spokesman.  But the wind energy industry should start claiming President Obama as its spokesman.  He's probably spent more time promoting the benefits of wind power than any other energy source -- such as his visit to Siemens' Iowa wind turbine plant this week, and a visit to another wind energy plant in Iowa on Earth Day 2009 to promote the need for more renewable energy sources. But long before Read more [...]
Housing Market’s Roller-Coaster Ride Continues

Housing Market’s Roller-Coaster Ride Continues

The long-awaited jump in home sales appears to have materialized at long last, for now anyway. After sales collapsed in late 2009 after the expiration of the new homebuyer tax credit, analysts have been waiting to see some kind of pop in the housing market data following the government’s decision to extend the credit through the end of this month. It appears March might have been the month. According to data from the National Association of Realtors and the Census Bureau, existing home sales Read more [...]
Earth Day Turns 40 Today

Earth Day Turns 40 Today

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. EPA is also turning 40 this year. Around the same time that these entities came into being, landmark legislation was enacted in response to environmental concerns. The Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act are the two most obvious examples. As usual, community activities are taking place across the country to commemorate and engage in environmental stewardship. To get involved in an event near you, check out EPA’s Earth Day Events website here. Read more [...]
Smart Receptacle’s time has come

Smart Receptacle’s time has come

The High Performance Building is coming along quite well technologically.  New ideas and products show up like mushrooms after the rain.  One product area where we’ll definitively see improvements is the good old receptacle and its matching plug.  In addition to already familiar functions like GFCIs for personal protection we’ve seen recently product proposals offering several additional benefits: Safety Thermal detection would turn off the current when the wire Read more [...]
Laboring Away

Laboring Away

Between now and Election Day 2010 (195 days away), Congress and the Obama Administration have a full plate, including financial regulatory reform, climate change and energy, and other priorities. One area where we could see some action is on several labor issues. Here are few possibilities: While the legislative outlook for the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" (HR 1409/S 560, aka "card check") remains unclear, there most likely will be attempts to implement aspects of the Read more [...]
Smart Grid and Video Games, Part II

Smart Grid and Video Games, Part II

Last May, I wrote about how Smart Grid was integrated into one of my favorite video games, The Sims 2. At the time, I questioned how Smart Grid technologies might be featured in the game’s sequel, The Sims 3. Well, there’s no job category for electrical engineers yet, and governor Sims don’t get to make decisions about transmission corridors, but soon, Sims will be able to drive around in electric cars. The game’s publisher, EA, just announced a product placement deal with Read more [...]
Home Builders Association Shuns Safety for Reduced Housing Cost

Home Builders Association Shuns Safety for Reduced Housing Cost

The Pennsylvania Builders Association (PBA) filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry seeking an injunction to stop implementation of the revised Uniform Construction Code, which utilizes the 2009 International Code Council (ICC) Codes. The suit claims that the new regulations will increase the cost of a new, average-size home by approximately $15,000. The petition includes a table that lists the cost of some of the changes in the Residential Code. Fire Sprinklers:              Read more [...]
Finally, some good news on consumers

Finally, some good news on consumers

While we have no shortage of economic issues to remain concerned about, e.g. foreclosures, debt deleveraging and persistent unemployment just to name a few, solid retail sales data for March at least provide a boost to optimism and may highlight the fact that the economic recovery might indeed be entering that critical “self-sustaining” phase. According to the release, retail sales jumped 7.6 percent from the depression-esque levels of last March and core retail sales suggest a 3.5 percent Read more [...]
Showcasing Smart Grid Technology at FERC

Showcasing Smart Grid Technology at FERC

“Clean Skies,” the energy and environment online network, posted a news report on Smart Grid yesterday that included scenes and interviews from last week’s NEMA Smart Grid Technology Day at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  As the report notes, the showcase for advanced electrical equipment and devices -- the second such NEMA-FERC demo collaboration in two years -- was well attended by FERC commissioners and employees. The Clean Skies report observed that Read more [...]