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Month: May 2010

Got "Conflict Minerals"?

Got "Conflict Minerals"?

You will have heard about the financial regulatory reform package making its way through Congress -- it passed the Senate at the end of last week. What you may not have heard much about is that the Senate-passed bill contains a provision that will not only interest your company's finance folks but also your supply chain managers. With backing from Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) and author Sam Brownback (R-KS), the Senate bill contains a provision Read more [...]
Less Bad is Still Not Good

Less Bad is Still Not Good

Despite some recent signs of improvement in the labor market and other macroeconomic indicators, the mortgage foreclosure problem continues to roll along. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that during the first quarter of 2010 mortgage delinquencies increased to account for 10.1 percent of all outstanding loans. The report does note some issues with seasonal adjustment factors for delinquencies and when examining the data on a non-adjusted basis borrowers appeared to be falling behind Read more [...]
35% Renewables – The Good News and the Better News

35% Renewables – The Good News and the Better News

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study (WWSIS), released yesterday by the National Renewable Energy Lab, proclaims the good news: integration of 30% wind and 5% solar is “feasible” in the west. There are some minor caveats, notably a dramatic increase in forecasting accuracy along with increasing generator scheduling granularity from hourly to several times an hour. Conspicuous in absence is the lack of extensive discussion on the role of energy storage for regulation. (The authors admit, Read more [...]
Could Cost of Regs Impede Rebound?

Could Cost of Regs Impede Rebound?

Sometimes industry views regulations an an "ally," such as when they set safety standards that reduce counterfeit and substandard products from the marketplace.  But regulations can also hinder competitiveness by raising the cost of doing business.  That's particularly problematic in an economic climate where U.S. manufacturers (including electrical) are struggling to regain their footing. Unfortunately, while our members have a clear understanding of their annual tax bills, Read more [...]
Cow Computing

Cow Computing

In a Disney-esque circle-of-life marriage between high tech and big agriculture, researchers from HP have proposed powering server farms with waste from dairy farms. In a nutshell, methane from bacteria-digested cow manure would be used to generate electricity. About 10,000 cows could supply enough juice (milk?) for a 1MW data center. While co-located power solutions are not new to data centers or industry, the HP proposal is a reminder us that everything has a carbon footprint, and we’ll Read more [...]
OSHA & Third-Party Certification

OSHA & Third-Party Certification

Last week the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) that stresses the importance of using electrical and other equipment certified by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) in workplaces. Quoting from OSHA's "Quick Takes" for the month of May, "OSHA's new Safety and Health Information Bulletin warns that workers may be exposed to serious hazards such as electrocution, burns, fires and explosions Read more [...]
Members of NEMA’S Industrial Automation And Control Systems Section Wonder….. What’s Going On Here?

Members of NEMA’S Industrial Automation And Control Systems Section Wonder….. What’s Going On Here?

For the last 17 years technical harmonization in the Americas has largely fallen under the domain of the Council for Harmonization of Electrotechnical Standards of the Nations of the Americas, familiarly known as CANENA. Surprisingly after almost 5 years under development, 3 terminal block standards that are IEC based (60947-7-1, 60947-7-2 and 60947-7-3),  one SDO (CSA), has determined that it will be better served to withdraw from the development process at the 11th hour, deciding to not publish Read more [...]
Job Market Recovery Gaining Some Momentum

Job Market Recovery Gaining Some Momentum

Today’s employment report showed payrolls increased by 290,000 in April. Moreover, March’s preliminary figure was revised upward and now shows a gain of 230K (vs. 162K originally). Hiring of temporary Census workers might have skewed the topline number upward, but growth was solid across an array of industries, with even the beleaguered construction sector adding jobs for the second consecutive month—marking the sector’s first back-to-back gains since early 2007. In addition, Read more [...]
OSHA Isn’t Asleep

OSHA Isn’t Asleep

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), under the leadership of the new Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, is no longer a sleepy little agency.  In the past two weeks alone, OSHA has published notice of the following: establishment of enforcement policies and procedures for the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), which "concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference Read more [...]
A Rising Middle Class Lifts All Boats

A Rising Middle Class Lifts All Boats

Back in 2006, New Mexico State University economist Lowell Catlett gave a memorable keynote address at our annual meeting.  In his address, he explained why a rising middle class in the developing world was so important to our members. For starters, a bigger middle class means higher living standards, which in turn means a bigger and more advanced electrical infrastrucure. Like more energy efficient lighting systems, and safer circuit breakers and wiring devices, Read more [...]