Appliance Science: The uninterruptible power supply

Where will you be when the lights go out? Still working on your computer? Yes, if you have a UPS. Appliance Science looks at how Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSes) work.

In a perfect world, your power would never go out, or have surges that could stop your appliances from working. We don't live in a perfect world, though: we live in a world of power glitches, of brownouts and downed power lines. For some appliances, these are more than just annoyances: an unexpected power outage can corrupt the data on your computer or send your home security system into a panic. And medical devices like CPAPs can end up choking you if the power unexpectedly stops. So, what can you do to protect your devices from these problems? Install an uninterruptible power supply, or UPS.

The job of the UPS is to provide continuous power to these critical devices, smoothing out the problems and providing a backup power source when the lights go out. They do this by putting a backup power source between your device and the power socket, then constantly monitoring the flow of power coming from the wall socket and out to your device.

There are different types of UPS, but those designed for computers and small appliances are usually in-line types, where the incoming power is converted from alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC), then fed into a battery. At the same time, the reverse is happening, with some of this current being converted back into AC current, which is then fed out to the device. If the power flowing into the device is interrupted, the battery takes up the slack, keeping the current flowing. The device being powered never knows that there has been a power outage.



Well, it never knows for as long as the battery lasts. A UPS can only keep a device powered as long as there is energy stored in the onboard battery. That's the Achilles' heel of these devices, and one of the major questions you need to consider when buying one. The bigger the battery, the longer the UPS can keep up this flow of power. But the bigger the battery, the bigger the UPS has to be to hold it.

This amount of energy stored in a UPS is measured in something called volt amps (VA), which represent how much electrical power it can deliver over time. This determines how long devices connected to the UPS will last. The VA rating will often be accompanied by a watt rating, which indicates how much electrical energy the UPS can deliver at any one moment, which determines how many devices can be powered by the UPS.


The APC ES 550G, a small UPS that offers 550VA of power storage.

Although it is notoriously hard to come up with a definitive figure for how long a UPS will keep your device going, many of the manufacturers offer basic UPS calculators. These allow you to input the number and type of devices you want to have a battery back up, and suggest which products might be appropriate. They are available from manufacturers such as APC.

How long a UPS will last depends on how much you connect to it, and how efficiently these connected devices use this power. Some devices drain the power down in a way that is inefficient for the UPS to keep up with, so they won't last as long. This is called the power factor. Why this happens is rather complex, but as a general rule, devices that use motors have a low power factor, so you shouldn't run appliances like dishwashers and washing machines off a small UPS. The same is true of devices such as laser printers, which draw a large amount of power suddenly when they start (called inrush current). That's no problem for the power from your wall socket, but a UPS can't handle that, and some could be damaged by this sudden power surge.

Most UPSes will also include a USB port and software. When running on a PC connected to the UPS, this monitors the level of charge left, and when it runs low, shuts the computer down. This clean shutdown will save your files and protect your data.

If you want to keep more than a single computer running, you'll need a bigger battery. Whole House UPS systems are built into your power system, usually between the circuit panel that holds your fuses and the electricity meter. When the power goes out, they step in and keep the power flow going in the entire house. There are several different types here, such as line interactive and delta conversion, which can handle the larger load of the multiple devices you'll find in the modern home. These are a significant investment, though, so they really are only needed if you live in an area that has frequent power outages.

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See the origial article and read more at: https://www.cnet.com/news/appliance-science-the-uninterruptible-power-supply/

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Tip of the Week: Run a Full Battery of Tests

One test of your equipment might detect a problem, but to uncover all potential issues, you will need to conduct a full range of tests.

You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “If all you have is a hammer the whole world looks like a nail.” This expression also applies in maintenance and troubleshooting.

Maintenance electricians typically carry a digital multimeter (DMM) with them. Considering what a DMM can do, this makes great sense. But it also can trap them into thinking in that hammer-and-nail fashion.

Suppose a motor opens its overload strips. You replace those and use your DMM to verify the correct voltage. No low voltage or voltage imbalance here, so it’s all fixed now!

But the motor can be vibrating. You don’t have a vibration tester with you, so should you check this? Absolutely. And you should use a higher-end tester so you can tell what’s going on other than “lots of vibration.” The meter should tell you the velocity, displacement, and acceleration. Even before using this instrument, you should put your DMM away and visually inspect the motor base and pedestal.

Vibration is only one of many potential causes your DMM isn’t going to detect. And it is not even a root cause; you will need other test equipment to prove and correct a root cause such as a misaligned load.

That vibration tester might not help you do anything other than eliminate vibration as a cause. What other tests might you perform? What about any or all of the following?

• Thermographic scan of the motor and of its immediate environs. A nearby heat source might be the culprit.

• Harmonic analysis of the branch-circuit and/or feeder supplying the motor. Good thing you found that big 5th harmonic!

• Power quality analysis of that circuit. Hmm, that flat-top does not look like a healthy sine wave.

• Bearing temperature measurements. If you fix other problems but don’t detect hot bearings, how are you going to look the next day when they fail?

• Ultrasonic analysis. This will reveal impending bearing failure and/or other problems.

• Insulation resistance tests. Is the insulation on those windings OK?

Although the DMM is indispensable, you need to be thinking of what tests you can perform to diagnose the problem rather than what tests your DMM can perform. If you’re troubleshooting critical equipment, good methodology requires running a full battery of tests. If you stop when you “find the problem” you may be stopping only when you find one of two problems.

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See the origial article and read more at: http://ecmweb.com/electrical-testing/tip-week-run-full-battery-tests?NL=ECM-08_&Issue=ECM-08__20161228_ECM-08__313&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_8_b&utm_rid=CPG04000000918978&utm_campaign=11813&utm_medium=email&elq2=5b6b40dac0af4b9d93149241794f04b0

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OSHA’s Top 10 Violations of 2016

OSHA announced its preliminary Top 10 list of most cited violations for fiscal year 2016 at the National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expo in October. The announcement was made by Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs.

Although this annual list of the most frequently cited violations almost always features the same hazard categories from year to year, the individual rankings do shift around a bit. This year, eight of the 10 categories held the same position as last year. The two categories that switched positions were Machine Guarding (No. 8) and Electrical Wiring Methods (No. 9).

If there's any good news to be had in this year's listing, I guess we could note that the Electrical Wiring Methods category moved down in the list and both Electrical categories saw a decrease in citations as compared to last year's numbers.

1 Fall Protection

No. 1 Violation: Fall Protection

Fall Protection once again retains its No. 1 position on this important list. These violations are associated with the Fall Protection rules of OSHA 1926.501, which sets forth requirements for employers to provide fall protection systems for its employees. This category posted 208 more incidents than last year.

There were a total of 6,929 violations issued in this category.

2 Hazardous Comm

No. 2 Violation: Hazard Communication

Hazard Communication remained in the No. 2 position. The purpose of this group of rules is to ensure the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are classified — and that information concerning the classified hazards is properly transmitted to employers and employees. The requirements of 1910.1200 are consistent with the provisions of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), Revision 3. Unfortunately, this category had the largest increase in violations among the top 10, posting 485 more than last year's total.

There were a total of 5,677 violations issued in this category.

3 Scaffolds

No. 3 Violation: Scaffolding

Violations related to Scaffolding use are still widespread across many industries. It’s important to note that the rules of 1926.451 do not apply to aerial lifts — the criteria for which are set out exclusively in 1926.453. The good news here is that this year's total number of violations was 389 less than last year, second best reduction among the group.

There were a total of 3,906 violations issued in this category.

4 Respiratory

No. 4 Violation: Respiratory Protection

The rules of 1910.134, which focus on Respiratory Protection, apply to General Industry (part 1910), Shipyards (part 1915), Marine Terminals (part 1917), Longshoring (part 1918), and Construction (part 1926). Violations associated with respiratory protection requirements apply to many different trades in the construction industry as well as plant/facility workers. An additional 280 violations were issued in this category this year, as compared to last year's listing.

Overall, there were 3,585 violations issued in this category.

5 Lockout

No. 5 Violation: Lockout/Tagout

Lockout/Tagout rules are vitally important for many different types of employees. Standard 1910.147 establishes minimum performance requirements for the control of such hazardous energy. This standard covers the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which the unexpected energization or startup of the machines or equipment — or release of stored energy — could harm employees. This category showed the second highest increase in violations, with 412 more incidents reported than last year.

There were a total of 3,414 violations issued in this category.

6 Lift Trucks

No. 6 Violation: Powered Industrial Trucks

Although violations associated with Powered Industrial Trucks don’t often come to mind when thinking about electrical work, OSHA issues a lot of citations in this area. Section 1910.178 contains safety requirements relating to fire protection, design, maintenance, and use of fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines. The number of violations in this category increased by 100 over year.

There were a total of 2,860 violations issued in this category.

7 Ladders

No. 7 Violation: Ladders

Section 1926.1053 applies to all Ladders, including job-made ladders. These rules apply to many different plants/facilities as well as all types of construction sites. This category moved up one place on the ranking from last year. An additional 150 violations were issued in this category this year, as compared to last year's listing.

There were a total of 2,639 violations issued in this category.

8 Machine Guards 0

No. 8 Violation: Machine Guarding

As noted in 1910.212, one or more methods of Machine Guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of guarding methods include barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, and electronic safety devices. This category saw an increase of 156 violations this year.

There were a total of 2,451 violations issued in this category.

9 Electric Wire 0

No. 9 Violation: Electrical Wiring Methods

The good news here is that this “electrically focused” category dropped one place in the rankings from last year. Section 1910.305 focuses on Electrical Wiring Methods, components, and equipment for general use. It does not, however, apply to conductors that are an integral part of factory-assembled equipment. This category also posted the largest decrease in violations, with 464 fewer as compared to last year's listing.

There were a total of 1,940 violations issued in this category.

10 General Electrical 0

No. 10 Violation: General Electrical Requirements

General Electrical Requirements stayed the same as last year, rounding out the top 10 listing. 1910.303 focuses on the proper installation and use of electrical conductors and equipment. The good news is this category posted the third largest decrease in the top 10, with 269 fewer incidents reported in 2016 as compared to 2015.

There were a total of 1,704 violations issued in this category.

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See the origial article and read more at: http://ecmweb.com/safety/osha-s-top-10-violations-2016?NL=ECM-01&Issue=ECM-01_20161222_ECM-01_24&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_1&utm_rid=CPG04000000918978&utm_campaign=11790&utm_medium=email&elq2=c20a510223644076bc74adc8bcafbc9e#slide-0-field_images-143371

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Fire pump controllers must now have surge protection.

One of the top code changes in the National Electrical Code (NEC) for 2017

Change No. 23: Section 695.15 (Surge Protection)

Fire pump controllers must now have surge protection.
695.15 Surge Protection. A listed surge protection device [Art. 285] must be installed in or on the fire pump controller.

Few people argue the advantages of having surge protection. In a commercial building, the computers probably all have surge protection, but the fire pump controller doesn’t. A study was conducted, commissioned by the NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation, and it concluded that 12% of the fire pumps tested had damage due to surges. Surges can damage motor windings, which shortens the life of motors. Controls are at even greater risk for damage from surges. It’s not prudent if a fire pump has to operate during a fire at full capacity and can’t because of unnoticed damage. This requirement is pretty easy to justify from a safety perspective.

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Electrical Safety Tip: It’s not a bet. Your child is not disposable.

An Electrical Safety Tip Everyone Should Know:
It’s not a bet. Your child is not disposable.

kid safety

A customer asked if it was okay for his kids to play around the green electrical box in his back yard. Said his ‘Little Guy’ liked to sit on it because it was warm. Answer, NO, it is not safe. Technically, it is safe as long as something doesn’t go wrong. But that’s chance, call it a bet. Lose a bet, lose your money. Money is disposable, you can get some more. Your child is not disposable. So don’t bet on their safety. Stay away from those electrical boxes. If there is an electrical fault while your child is touching or even just near the electrical enclosure, they could receive a fatal shock. Side note, don’t drive stakes into the ground to put up a fence around the electrical enclosures without calling diggers hotline to locate the high voltage underground wires. You’re not disposable either.

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See the origial article and read more at: Safety tip courtesy of MIDWEST Electrical Testing, Switchgear Group

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Avoiding Arc Flash

Electrical events can severely injure – or kill – workers

 arcflash abc  

 Key points

  • Arc flash temperatures can reach 35,000° F.
  • The 2015 edition of NFPA 70E has updated guidance, most notably a shift from “hazard analysis” to “risk assessment” terminology.
  • The IEEE/NFPA Arc Flash Collaborative Research Project is studying arc flash and its hazards, and will possibly help develop an updated guide for calculating arc flash incident energy.


In October 2010, a wind farm technician suffered third-degree burns to his neck, chest and arms and second-degree burns to his face after energy from an arc flash struck him while working.

OSHA determined that the technician’s employer failed to ensure workers attached personal lockout/tagout devices on tower turbine switch gear at ground level. Other employees were working on the towers 350 feet off the ground. A transformer unexpectedly activated, injuring the technician. OSHA issued six citations for willful safety violations and proposed fines of $378,000.

This case is just one example of the potential health, legal and financial consequences of an arc flash incident.

During an arc flash, electric current leaves its intended path and travels to the ground, or from one conductor to another, through the air. Factors that can cause an arc flash include equipment failure, dust, dropped tools and corrosion. Injuries can be devastating, as arc flash temperatures can reach 35,000° F – which is 3 times hotter than the surface of the sun. An arc flash also can produce noise reaching 140 decibels – about as loud as a gunshot – and molten metal shrapnel.

“Arc flash is a very, very dangerous phenomenon. It is truly instantaneous. If you’re watching video of it, it would last less than a second,” said Bill Burke, division manager of electrical engineering for the Quincy, MA-based National Fire Protection Association.

Each day in the United States, an estimated five to 10 arc flash incidents occur with electrical equipment, according to NIOSH.

An arc flash injury can mean an “excruciating road to recovery, something any reasonable person would want to avoid,” said Antony Parsons, technical consultant at energy management specialist Schneider Electric. “There’s light, sound along with heat, that can cause damage to eyesight, hearing.

“It can also cause a lot of damage to equipment. It may mean main electrical equipment is not repairable. Maybe production is down in your facility for an extended period of time. Economic loss can come along with it. It can have a huge impact. If you have no protection, it’s basically a roll of the dice.”

Rules and guidance

In April 2014, OSHA issued a final rule on electric power generation, transmission and distribution; and electrical protective equipment. The rule has new or revised requirements for electrical safety – including arc-flash protection – for both construction and general industry. It affects workplaces in various industries – including manufacturing. The agency estimates the rule will help prevent about 20 deaths and 118 serious injuries per year.

Under the rule, employers must protect their workers from hazards posed by flames and electric arc in the following ways:

Identify employees who will be working around these hazards.
Estimate the incident heat energy of any electric-arc hazard to which a worker would be exposed.
With certain exceptions, ensure workers exposed to such hazards wear protective clothing and other protective equipment with an arc rating equal to or greater than the estimated heat energy.

At press time, the compliance deadline for certain provisions of arc flash protection was April 1, including the requirement that employers provide workers with protective clothing and other equipment.

“The best thing employers can do is change what they put their people in,” said Jay Smith Jr., executive vice president of Indianapolis-based arc flash hazard analysis provider Lewellyn Technology. “Getting into flame-resistant clothing can drastically improve the chance of walking away from what would be considered a catastrophic event.”

Although OSHA sets the requirements for arc flash prevention and other electric safety issues in the workplace, NFPA’s standard for electrical workplace safety, 70E, aims to detail how to be safe. Originally created per OSHA’s request, 70E is intended to help employers and workers comply with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K.

70E references the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ IEEE 1584, a guide first published in 2002 for calculating arc flash incident energy and protection boundaries.

A new version of 70E went into effect July 29, 2014.

Although some companies might not currently have access to NFPA 70E’s new edition, David Dini – research engineer at Northbrook, IL-based safety science company UL and chair of NFPA’s 70E technical committee – encourages use of the new edition because it is meant to supersede all previous editions.


Guidance on how to protect workers will continue to evolve as more is learned about arc flash.

A special task group associated with the NFPA 70E technical committee has been exploring if the standard should include certified personal protective equipment – such as arc-rated clothing, faceshields, rubber gloves and insulated tools – for electrical workers, Dini said. This would be similar to what is in place in other NFPA standards for workers such as firefighters, who must wear turnout gear and other special protective equipment. Currently, 70E requires most PPE to meet requirements of certain ASTM standards. Certification likely would require testing to confirm a product meets the standard’s requirements.

“Most electrical workers’ PPE is self-certified to ASTM standards, and that can present issues with respect to conformity assessment, standards interpretations, testing consistency and continued compliance, not to mention counterfeit products,” Dini said.

Additionally, to better understand arc flash and its hazards and determine further safety guidance, NFPA and IEEE have been collaborating on an arc flash research project. Phases I and II of testing have been completed, and IEEE is reviewing new models for incident energy calculations, Dini said.

IEEE 1584 contains methods for calculating incident energy and arc flash boundaries based on research conducted during the 1990s, Dini said. The current project involved nearly 2,000 tests using more modern methods and equipment. Blast pressure, sound and light intensity also have been measured during the experiments.

“These results will be considered by the 70E committee, as they are responsible for the PPE requirements for both the thermal and non-thermal effects of the arc flash and the associated blast,” Dini said.

Risk assessment

One notable change in the new version of NFPA 70E is the shift in terminology from “hazard analysis” to “risk assessment,” which is defined as a process that identifies hazards, estimates potential severity and likelihood of injury or “damage to health,” and determines if protective measures are required.

In the 2012 edition, arc flash hazard analysis was defined as “a study investigating a worker’s potential exposure to arc flash energy, conducted for the purpose of injury prevention and the determination of safe work practices, arc flash boundary, and the appropriate levels of PPE.” Risk assessment was not listed in the standard’s definitions.

In the newest version, NFPA has shifted to “risk assessment” for greater clarity, Burke said.

With risk assessment, the new edition takes more of a comprehensive approach regarding equipment history, experts say. Risk assessment asks for an understanding of the equipment, whether it has been properly maintained and if manufacturer-recommended maintenance has been performed, according to Smith. Risk assessment puts more emphasis on equipment evaluation versus simply task-based PPE selection.

“They have to really support hazard identification using concrete evaluations of their equipment and type of equipment, maintenance of equipment, upkeep,” Smith said. “It’s put more emphasis on actually calculating the hazards.”

Hugh Hoagland is senior managing partner of e-Hazard, an electric safety training and testing provider, and ArcWear, a testing specialist for protective apparel, in Louisville, KY. Hoagland said focusing on risks re-emphasizes maintenance and engineering out hazards, so PPE is no longer burdensome.

“This is the future of electrical safety,” he said.

However, some employers might believe performing a risk assessment on their own is too complicated or perilous. They may call an outside firm to evaluate hazards, train workers and recommend PPE.

“The problem with risk assessment, it’s very iffy and based on historical knowledge,” Hoagland said. “If you’re a small facility, you may struggle to know historically a piece of this equipment has had a problem. It’s probably good for you to have someone with more experience help with risk assessment.”

Regardless, NFPA hopes its national consensus standard is becoming clearer and can be used for companies’ own risk assessments.

“Rather than going out and hiring an expensive engineering firm to do all this analysis, 70E offers tables,” Burke said. “If you know four or five different things, you can figure out what your risk exposure is. A lot of big companies do engineering studies and use 70E in coordination with that. 70E is also very much for smaller companies, smaller office buildings and commercial applications where they don’t necessarily have someone on staff.”

Companies will have to continue to maintain their equipment, experts point out. Some companies might not understand what needs to be done and the importance of maintenance, or they may frown on the idea of shutting down their production for maintenance, Parsons said.

“That’s one of the biggest things many facility owners miss, doing proper periodic maintenance on electrical equipment. They don’t do it in some cases,” Parsons said. “In some cases, what they do is inadequate. The less maintained it is, the less reliable it’ll be. That doesn’t do you any favors when you talk about arc flash hazards.”

Some companies have experienced “heartburn” in response to changes in 70E, as they adjust from what they previously learned, Smith said. However, a culture change has been occurring since the 2000s, with safety awareness growing and workers realizing they have to dress appropriately for safe electrical work.

The question Hoagland’s company most frequently hears is: When are PPE and energized work permits needed?

Companies might not want to do cumbersome paperwork, but they want protective, hassle-free PPE, he said. And they want to take necessary measures.

“They want to do it when it can save a life,” Hoagland said.

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See the origial article and read more at: http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/12001-avoiding-arc-flash

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Evolution may mean Higher Electric Rates in Rural Areas


Power lines run along a road in rural Jackson County, Ill. Electricity in rural areas, long generated mostly from coal-fired plants, will likely undergo major changes in the future.

Eighty years after passage of the Rural Electrification Act, most farmers have access to plenty of power. But the source of that power might be changing, and that could mean higher rates.

Coal-fired power plants have long served the electrical needs of rural America, but factors such as environmental concerns, changing laws and supplies are gradually pushing them toward extinction.

For decades, coal has fueled more than 60 percent of electrical generation. Today, it is 30 to 35 percent. For the first time ever, natural gas has exceeded the use of coal for power generation nationwide, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

Several coal mines in Illinois have closed, along with a number of coal-based power plants. That trend will likely continue, according to Robert Reynolds, a vice president at Springfield, Ill.-based Prairie Power Inc.

“Coal seems to be declining and nuclear, as well,” Reynolds said.

The Springfield, Ill.-based cooperative, like others across farm country, is hedging its bets.

“Our philosophy is a simple one,” Reynolds said. “We have an all-of-the-above strategy. We have some wind, we have some solar, we have some gas and we have some coal. We make use of all four of those types of resources.”

Energy giants such as Dynergy and Exelon are closing some power plants in the Midwest, and there are no plans to replace them in the near future. Prairie State, a so-called mine mouth operation that opened in 2012, was the last plant built in Illinois. Mine mouth operations — power plants built adjacent to coal mines — are more efficient partly because of money saved on transportation.

John Lowery, an executive with the Illinois Association of Electric Co-ops, agrees power generation is transitioning away from coal. He doesn’t see any new coal-fired plants coming on line in the future.

“That’s a very good likelihood unless things change,” Lowery said. “No one in a very long time is going to build a new power plant in Illinois. If you can’t keep an existing power plant operating at market rate, you certainly can’t afford to build a new one.”

Importing electricity means extra costs, and that means higher rates for consumers. That’s especially true for rural residents, who already pay more for power than their urban counterparts.

“Illinois will be a net importer of energy in the near future,” Lowery said. “When you can’t produce the power in your own native area and it’s imported from those who do have it, Illinois will be a price taker rather than a price maker.

“That’s my concern, that we won’t have the prospect of saying, ‘Your price is too high, so I’m just going to generate myself.’ You pretty well have to take the price they charge.”

Natural gas is becoming the fuel of choice for electrical generation. It is more environmentally friendly than coal and is often cheaper. Recent discoveries of vast supplies such as the Bakken Formation in North Dakota have provided an economic boom for some areas.

But the method of retrieval — deep-well horizontal fracturing, or “fracking” — has encountered opposition from environmental groups who have concerns about water contamination and a possible link to earthquakes.

Bill Hutchinson, vice president of electrical systems with Southern Illinois Power Cooperative, said about two-thirds of electricity generated in the Midwest still comes from coal. Moving to a natural gas-based system is a daunting prospect.

“There’s a huge supply of gas available right now. The issue is there’s not a transportation mechanism there yet,” Hutchinson said. “The infrastructure is not there to be able to go full-generation natural gas. There’s lots of gas, but somebody’s got to pay for the infrastructure. Utility systems were built for local supply, not necessarily for interstate transmission.

“In the Midwest, there is not a major amount of gas generation on the system. The percentages that clear in the market every day, coal is still a major contributor to the generation mix, especially in the central and north.”

Further complicating the issue is the status of the Clean Power Plan, an initiative proposed by the Obama administration which calls for wholesale changes in carbon emissions.

Challenges of using natural gas in power plants in the Midwest include the process of burning it, Hutchinson said. Building new generators or refitting coal-fired plants require large expenditures.

“We’ll have to look at the cost and efficiencies to run on natural gas,” Hutchinson said.

Prairie State’s Reynolds believes the benefits of natural gas may eventually spell the end for more coal-fired plants.

“Natural gas is incredibly inexpensive,” he said. “The price has driven the market price for electricity lower, which makes it difficult to keep some of these older power plants operating.”

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See the origial article and read more at: http://www.iowafarmertoday.com/news/regional/evolution-may-mean-higher-electric-rates-in-rural-areas/article_40d7e464-a133-11e6-ae3d-efe204b43904.html

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Sensitive Electronic Grounding in Industrial Locations

by Eddie Guidry, Senior Fellow at Fluor Enterprises, Inc.

Thirty to 35 years ago, distributed control systems (DCSs), along with new analog and digital instrument systems, were in their infancy. Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other electronic instrumentation were very susceptible to noise when connected to the plant grounding electrode system. In the early days, some manufacturers of DCS systems mistakenly assumed that creating a separate, isolated grounding electrode system was the answer to their unwanted, noisy grounding issues. Creating a separate, isolated grounding electrode system at the remote instrument enclosure (RIE) or control rooms for electronic grounding was, and is still, not acceptable per the National Electrical Code (NEC).

Grounding diagram

Per Sec. 250.50 of the 2014 NEC, all grounding electrodes at each building or structure served must be bonded together to create the grounding electrode system. Sections 250.52(A)(1) through (A)(7) defines each type of grounding electrode that must be bonded together. Where none of the electrode types in 250.52(A)(1) through (A)(7) exist, one or more of the electrode types specified in Sections 250.52(A)(4) through (A)(8) shall be installed and used. Simply put, the intent of Art. 250 is to achieve one common grounding electrode system at a building or structure served, although it may consist of various types of grounding electrodes.

So, with a common grounding electrode system for all electrical equipment and instrumentation, how is a technician supposed to rule out noise on the grounding electrode system if he’s having issues with instrumentation? One acceptable, prevalent method in the petrochemical industry is to provide two grounding bars or buses in the RIE or control building. One bar is used for the plant grounding electrode system, and the other is used for the “isolated” grounding electrode system. Some manufacturers refer to the isolated grounding electrode system as the “master reference” grounding system. Then, inside the building or enclosure, a permanently installed bonding jumper is installed between the two systems to create one electrode system. Using this method allows the instrument technician to troubleshoot should he think that he’s getting noise on the grounding electrode system. This method also achieves the intent of the requirements set forth in Sec. 250.50.

The fallacy here is creating a truly “isolated” grounding electrode system is virtually impossible. It’s extremely difficult to create “isolated” grounding electrode systems. The two systems will inevitably be in contact somewhere — whether intentional or not. And, even if the isolated grounding electrode system is achieved, you’re creating a low-impedance “sink” that actually attracts noise.

Remember that common mode noise or other noise issues are not the “objectionable currents” referred to in Sec. 250.6 of the NEC and never warrants an attempt to create an isolated grounding electrode system. “Objectionable current” as used in this section could be circulating currents for instance. All grounding electrodes must be intentionally connected together at each building or structure served. No switches, spark gaps, or electronic diode devices can be installed between the multiple grounding electrodes.

For more information on sensitive electronic grounding, see IEEE Emerald Book, Std. 1100.

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3 Electrical Grounding Issues That Negatively Impact System Reliability

Grounding is one of the most important aspects of your facility’s electrical wiring due to the safety and equipment damage risks associated with improper grounding.

Grounding is required to provide a low impedance path for current in the event of a fault since electrical current likes to follow a path with a low impedance rather than a high impedance. A fault condition can occur in either the actual facility wiring or within a device that is connected to the facility wiring. In either case, the electrical system and grounding must be able to clear the fault to avoid damage to the wiring system or the device and more importantly to avoid any risks to people using any device within the facility.

The grounding system is the reference point for all computer logic and data cabling communications. Within computers and computer networks, the internal computer circuits and data cabling connections use the ground as the reference point for processing data. If the ground reference for these devices or networked systems is not correct or “stable” then system reliability is compromised which can cause lock-ups, software and hardware failures and expensive system downtime.

Numerous issues can affect system reliability, but the three key issues related to grounding often cause most of the problems which negatively impact system reliability:

1. Ground Current is Present on the Building Grounding System

This situation typically occurs when a wiring error is present within the electrical panel or a junction box such as the neutral and ground conductor wires are junctioned together, or worse yet, they are connected together on the same bar in the sub-panel which is a violation of National Electrical Code (NEC). When these types of errors occur, some of the neutral current from the neutral conductor can potentially be transferred to the ground wiring which can present a significant safety hazard. Also, this ground current can cause system hardware failures and lock-ups as well from unstable ground reference conditions within the network.

2. Improper Installation of an Insulated Grounding (IG) System

Optimal operation of computer systems require that a “low-noise” environment be present. Noise is present in all electrical systems and is caused by devices in the facility that can cause spikes in the voltage or current. Noise in an electrical system can definitely impact reliability especially for sensitive electronic equipment. An isolated grounding system can be installed to ensure that the facility provides a low-noise environment for computer and data systems; however, if the IG system is not installed properly it can cause significant issues such as grounding loops and noise which can cause system lock-ups and data communication failures.

3. Neutral to Ground Voltage Issues

Another condition that frequently occurs within a networked system is issues with the neutral to ground voltage. This condition typically happens when long circuit runs are present within the computer network. Devices connected to these long circuit runs in combination with circuit voltage drops cause neutral-ground voltages to ensue. Neutral to ground voltages make the ground reference point for a computer or computer network “unstable.” This unstable condition is notorious for causing system lockups and no-fault-found conditions that cause downtime and high service costs.

System reliability experts evaluate your systems and diagnose potential risks for grounding and other wiring issues. They can provide site surveys, power monitoring, powerscope analysis and other testing services to identify and correct any wiring errors.


P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://www.cusi.biz/3-common-electrical-grounding-issues-negatively-impact-system-reliability/

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  1780 Hits
1780 Hits

National Electrical Code Changes are coming. We've got you covered!

Learn about critical changes to the code View Online
Square D by Schneider Electric
National Electrical Code Changes are coming.
We've got you covered!
Be sure you're ready to incorporate public and worker safety requirements and new technology outlined in the latest edition of the National Electrical Code®. Join National Electrical Code Correlating Committee Chairman, Mike Johnston, and other industry leaders for a 1-hour LIVE online broadcast as they explain critical code changes that will impact your business and projects today.

National Electrical Code Changes LIVE Broadcast
Thursday, November 10th, 12pm CST
Brought to you by: Square D™ by Schneider Electric
Click here to Register

You'll learn about:
  • The most pertinent changes to the code
  • How the new code benefits the contractor and the opportunities it brings
  • Major provisions that will require electrical contractors to change their standard practices
  • How these codes will impact the way contractors bid and install projects
Featured Speakers:
  • Mike Johnston, Chair, National Electrical Code Correlating Committee
  • Alan Manche, VP, External Affairs, Schneider Electric and NEC Panel 2 & 10 Member
  • Chad Kennedy, Manager, Industry Standards, Schneider Electric and NEC Panel 13 Member
  • Phil Santoro, Electrical Contractor Segment Manager, Schneider Electric ...And More!
Register today to reserve your spot!

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

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  1758 Hits
1758 Hits

A Guide to Pre-Crisis Planning

A pre-crisis plan is critical to minimize interruption to your operations in the event of an electrical emergency. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, this whitepaper outlines the most critical aspects of disaster planning and recovery to help lessen the impact of electrical system failure.

For more information, download the whitepaper below!


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  1823 Hits
1823 Hits

Are you Sitting on an Asset? Learn how energy efficiency can fund big ambitions

An Exclusive FREE Webinar:

Are you Sitting on an Asset?

Learn how energy efficiency can fund big ambitions

Thursday, October 27, 2016 | 2PM ET / 11AM PT

It’s time to stop looking at your utility bills as a sunk cost. Attend this webinar to learn how an energy savings performance contract can help redirect operational and energy expenses into big ambitions. Progressive schools and municipalities across the country are finding new funding opportunities through these innovative projects.

Learn how forward-thinking leaders accomplish these goals:

  • Create more efficient infrastructure operations while unlocking revenue for reinvestment
  • Fund modernization and deferred maintenance projects without increasing taxes
  • Drive revenue and new growth opportunities to boost economic development
  • Build a sustainable image to attract new students and residents

Emerging trends suggest more and more schools and municipalities will use performance contracting as a funding vehicle in 2017. Get the information you need to achieve your next big ambition.

Mayor Jason Shelton
City of Tupelo, Mississippi

Mayor Shelton is a life-long resident of Tupelo and a product of the Mississippi public education system, including Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi School of Law. After practicing law in Tupelo for more than a decade, Jason was elected as the first mayor in the history of Tupelo. During his time as mayor, the City of Tupelo overcame many hardships, and has been highly acclaimed as a 2015 All-America City and as the Mississippi Municipal League 2015 Overall Excellence Award winner. Tupelo utilized an energy savings performance contract to fund an innovative economic development initiative.

Marcus Craig
Director of Energy and Sustainability Services
Schneider Electric

With 15 years of industry experience, Mr. Craig currently serves as a director with the Energy and Sustainability Services Division of Schneider Electric. His team provides energy-related services to state and local governments, K-12 school districts, colleges and universities, involving areas of infrastructure improvements, design-build energy efficiency projects, sustainability programs and financial solutions. To date, Schneider Electric has successfully completed 575+ energy savings and capital reinvestment projects nationwide, saving clients a combined $2 billion.

Mike Schene
Director of Maintenance & Operations
Snowline Joint Unified School District

Mr. Schene brings over 22 years of robust facilities experience to his role as Director of Maintenance & Operations at Snowline Joint Unified School District. Snowline leveraged two resources—Proposition 39 and an energy savings performance contract (ESPC)—to bridge a budget gap, enabling the district to cut energy costs and still make significant facilities improvements districtwide. Mr. Schene was an integral part in making this project a success and realizing the vision of the District.

Learn more and Register here: https://event.on24.com/eventRegistration/EventLobbyServlet?target=registration.jsp&eventid=1282186&sessionid=1&key=2E8FC7D270CE616E00B0BBD753E2B120&sourcepage=register

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  1945 Hits
1945 Hits

Energy Savings White Paper — Realistic expectations for commercial facilities.

Energy Savings White Paper — Realistic expectations for commercial facilities. Published by Eaton

Everyone wants to save money on their energy bill. Many facilities have mandates to save energy. Improving energy efficiency offers huge advantages to businesses—reducing the costs of energy and operations — and increasing sustainability.


Through proven methods including variable frequency drives (VFD), LED lighting and conservation methods and control, many new and existing facilities achieve the savings that they expect. However, many solutions are overstated as energy savers including power factor (PF) correction, harmonic solutions and conservation voltage reduction (CVR). Some solutions may not
specifically save energy, but offer financial savings for end users as an incentive or penalty avoidance. This paper will identify realistic levels of energy savings and expected financial benefits with proven methods in addition to identifying how to evaluate false energy savings claims.

Introduction: Saving money on your energy bill

Saving money on your energy bill is simple— either use less energy or pay less for the energy that you use. As ridiculous as this sounds, this oversimplification is exactly the point. Energy savings is hard work and a clear understanding of the energy you use and how you pay for it is critical to saving money. The focus of this paper is on electrical energy, although similar conclusions can be made for other sources of energy.

Understanding your electric bill 

Generally speaking, your electric bill has four major components:

• Energy (measured in kWh)
• Demand (measured in kW)
• Penalties or other charges (PF, etc.)
• Taxes

Our intention is not to help you save money on the tax portion of your bill, but by identifying savings in the other three parts, you may also save on taxes.

Energy charges (kWh)

Energy, which is measured in kWh, is an accumulation of kW over time. Typical rates for kWh charges range from $0.05/kWh to $0.15/kWh but can be significantly higher in remote areas or during heavy energy demand periods. A simple example illustrating the cost of kWh is shown below. 

Scenario 1: Using 10, 100 W incandescent light lamps for 24 hours would result in:
10 lamps * 100 W * 24 hr = 24 kWh 

And the operation cost would be:
24 kWh * $0.12 per kWh = $2.88

Download the fulll white paper:


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  1917 Hits
1917 Hits

Announcing Eaton’s SPC Surge Protective Device Series

Eaton's SPC Series: robust, configurable protection

Eaton is proud to announce the launch of our new mid-range surge protection series: the SPC Series.

The SPC Series provides robust surge protection for commercial and light industrial applications, such as service entrances, distribution panelboards, and point-of-use applications. The SPC Series offers a flexible, configurable design including options of EMI/RFI filtering, audible alarm, and Form C contacts.

The SPC Series design includes proprietary tri-colored LED protection status indicators and a compact, corrosion-resistant NEMA 4X enclosure. In addition, all SPC Series devices are UL and CSA listed. All SPC Series devices achieved premier ratings indicating design robustness and safety with a nominal discharge current of 20 kA and a short circuit current rating of 200 kA.

Eaton's SPC Series surge protective device is a key component to your cascaded protection strategy. Protect critical equipment in commercial and light industrial applications with the new SPC Series.

spc 1


spc 2


The SPC Series: designed to maximize flexibility

SPC Features:

• Thermally protected metal oxide varistor (MOV) technology
• Tri-colored LED protection status indicators
• 20 kA nominal discharge current (In) rating (maximum rating in the UL 1449 4th Edition standard)
• 50 through 200 kA per phase peak surge current capacity ratings
• Configure-to-order with eight custom feature combinations
• Corrosion-resistant NEMA 4X enclosure with mounting feet
• 200 kA short-circuit current rating (SCCR)
• Factory prewired with 36 inches of 10 AWG wire
• No user-serviceable parts or items requiring periodic maintenance
• Five-year warranty that can be extend to 10 years with product registration at www.eaton.com/spc

spc 3


The SPC Series: one of Eaton’s surge protection solutions

The SPC Series is part of Eaton’s complete family of surge protection solutions and is designed to complement the advanced protection of the SPD Series.  Eaton surge devices are available in all common voltages and configurations, in surge current capacity ratings up to 800 kA and with a variety of optional features.  The breadth of options and configurations available ensures there’s a solution that will work for your unique electrical application. spc 4


See our new marketing literature to learn more!

eaton lit 1


eaton lit 2

Eaton Surge Family Brochure

Eaton SPC Series Product AId

Eaton SPC Series Technical Data

Eaton SPC Series Competitive Comparison

Eaton SPC Series Instruction Manual

Eaton Surge Overview Presentation

Eaton Surge Selection Guide

Eaton Surge Family Solutions

Additional SPC literature can be found at www.eaton.com/spc


And visit Eaton.com/SPD to watch our new surge video!

 Eaton Surge Equipment Mysteries

See how Eaton surge protection solutions help solve the most perplexing equipment mysteries at www.eaton.com/spd.

eaton vid
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  2994 Hits
2994 Hits

4 Big Benefits of Lithium Ion Batteries for UPS Systems – and 2 Key Challenges

A confluence of events is setting the stage for what may well be dramatic change in a key component of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) technology that really hasn’t changed much for 40 years or more.

I’m referring to the lead acid battery, the energy storage technology used in UPS systems, which remains much the same now as it did decades ago. But as the industry develops new types of batteries for devices ranging from smart phones to electric automobiles, we can clearly see the day when UPSs take advantage of these developments.

It’s coming at a good time, because customers are facing some difficult challenges with respect to UPSs, whether they’re for data centers, critical buildings, industrial processes or critical infrastructure. These challenges are driving the need for specific UPS requirements, including:

  • Reduced UPS footprint and weight to allow for a more effective, flexible use of space
  • Reduced cooling capacity
  • Increased energy storage availability and ability to predict UPS failures
    Extended UPS life and reduced maintenance overhead

I believe lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries on Wikipedia hold great promise to address all of these challenges and requirements. In this post I’ll explain the four main reasons why.

First, Li-ion batteries provide multiple times the energy and power density as compared to valve-regulated lead-acid batteries (VRLA), which are the most common type currently used in UPS systems. As a result, UPSs built with Li-ion batteries take up only about one-third the space or less of a VRLA-based solution that delivers the same power.

That smaller footprint translates to reduced cooling requirements as well as about a two-thirds reduction in weight, at least. That means customers have more flexibility in terms of where they install the systems and can often avoid costly building modifications.

Li-ion batteries can also withstand a wider temperature range than VRLA batteries. The rule of thumb is that VRLA battery life is reduced by half for every 10°C (18°F) increase above 25°C (77° F) ambient temperature. Li-ion batteries are far less sensitive to temperature fluctuations and can accept spikes in temperature with almost no effect on battery life. This again allows customers to reduce cooling capacity as well as the size of the room that houses the UPS.

A third benefit is that Li-ion batteries always come with sophisticated battery monitoring systems (BMS) that provide a clear picture of battery runtime and health. It’s essentially the same technology that enables you to easily see how much battery life is left in your smart phone.

In contrast, VRLA batteries rely on chemistry that makes it hard to accurately predict when they’re going to fail. Think about your car battery: it may crank perfectly fine one day but the next it’s a little chilly and the battery fails, without warning. That won’t happen with Li-ion batteries.

Which leads to the final benefit of Li-ion batteries for UPSs: increased life expectancy. In theory, VRLA batteries used in UPS systems have a life expectancy of 10 years. But due to the constraints around being able to determine their actual health and life expectancy, in practice most customers replace them after 5 or 6 years.

In contrast, Li-ion batteries of the sort best suited for UPSs are expected to last for more than 10 years, reducing the burden and cost of battery replacements, as well as the risks of down time or load interruption during maintenance.

Of course no new technology comes without certain implementation challenges and Li-ion batteries are no different. First is the need to find the type of Li-ion battery that’s best suited for UPS applications. UPS requirements are quite different from those for, say, an electric car battery. Car batteries are designed to store lots of energy so the car can travel as many miles as possible before recharging. With UPS batteries, the concern is not length of run time so much as the need to deliver a lot of power quickly for a short period of time, usually just a few minutes until the backup generators kick in.

For a UPS we’re also not really interested in a battery that can cycle on and off thousands of times, because a UPS kicks in only occasionally. Rather, we need it to be highly reliable and safe, with a long life expectancy.

Secondly, we need a battery that can deliver a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) as compared to VRLA batteries. Li-ion batteries are already competitive on that front. They may cost more up front, but will last about twice as long as VRLA batteries. Li-ion batteries also have a far smaller footprint, which drives down both space and cooling requirements – delivering further cost savings.

I expect the TCO story to get even better in coming months and years, since Li-ion technology is still quite new with respect to UPSs. Prices should fall at a much faster rate than that for the mature VLRA technology.

By Patrick Brouhon, the Strategic Marketing Director for 3-phase UPS at Schneider Electric, based in Grenoble, France.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://blog.schneider-electric.com/power-management-metering-monitoring-power-quality/2015/06/24/4-big-benefits-of-lithium-ion-batteries-for-ups-systems-and-2-key-challenges/

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  1896 Hits
1896 Hits

Practical Power Factor Correction

When the need arises to correct for poor power factor in an AC power system, you probably won’t have the luxury of knowing the load’s exact inductance in henrys to use for your calculations. You may be fortunate enough to have an instrument called a power factor meter to tell you what the power factor is (a number between 0 and 1), and the apparent power (which can be figured by taking a voltmeter reading in volts and multiplying by an ammeter reading in amps). In less favorable circumstances you may have to use an oscilloscope to compare voltage and current waveforms, measuring phase shift in degrees and calculating power factor by the cosine of that phase shift.

Most likely, you will have access to a wattmeter for measuring true power, whose reading you can compare against a calculation of apparent power (from multiplying total voltage and total current measurements). From the values of true and apparent power, you can determine reactive power and power factor. Let’s do an example problem to see how this works:

Chart 1

Wattmeter reads true power; product of voltmeter and ammeter readings yields appearant power.

First, we need to calculate the apparent power in kVA. We can do this by multiplying load voltage by load current:

Chart 2

As we can see, 2.308 kVA is a much larger figure than 1.5 kW, which tells us that the power factor in this circuit is rather poor (substantially less than 1). Now, we figure the power factor of this load by dividing the true power by the apparent power:

Chart 3

Using this value for power factor, we can draw a power triangle, and from that determine the reactive power of this load:

Chart 4

Reactive power may be calculated from true power and appearant power.

To determine the unknown (reactive power) triangle quantity, we use the Pythagorean Theorem “backwards,” given the length of the hypotenuse (apparent power) and the length of the adjacent side (true power):

Chart 5

If this load is an electric motor, or most any other industrial AC load, it will have a lagging (inductive) power factor, which means that we’ll have to correct for it with a capacitor of appropriate size, wired in parallel. Now that we know the amount of reactive power (1.754 kVAR), we can calculate the size of capacitor needed to counteract its effects:

Chart 6

Rounding this answer off to 80 µF, we can place that size of capacitor in the circuit and calculate the results:

Chart 7

Parallel capacitor corrects lagging (inductive) load.

An 80 µF capacitor will have a capacitive reactance of 33.157 Ω, giving a current of 7.238 amps, and a corresponding reactive power of 1.737 kVAR (for the capacitor only). Since the capacitor’s current is 180o out of phase from the the load’s inductive contribution to current draw, the capacitor’s reactive power will directly subtract from the load’s reactive power, resulting in:

Chart 8

This correction, of course, will not change the amount of true power consumed by the load, but it will result in a substantial reduction of apparent power, and of the total current drawn from the 240 Volt source:

Chart 9

Power triangle before and after capacitor correction.

The new apparent power can be found from the true and new reactive power values, using the standard form of the Pythagorean Theorem:

Chart 10

This gives a corrected power factor of (1.5kW / 1.5009 kVA), or 0.99994, and a new total current of (1.50009 kVA / 240 Volts), or 6.25 amps, a substantial improvement over the uncorrected value of 9.615 amps! This lower total current will translate to less heat losses in the circuit wiring, meaning greater system efficiency (less power wasted).

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/textbook/alternating-current/chpt-11/practical-power-factor-correction/

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  2457 Hits
2457 Hits

OSHA: Lack of PPE and Training Cost Electrical Technician His Life

OSHA cited Ferro Magnetics for one willful, 14 serious safety violations.


According to OSHA, in November 2014, Marreo Travis, the father of a young daughter, was testing transformers when he was electrocuted. He was rushed to the hospital, but did not survive.

OSHA investigators found that Travis’ death might have been prevented if his employer, Ferro Magnetics Corp., had supplied adequate personal protective equipment, followed safety procedures and provided training.

“In seconds, a family was altered forever, and a young girl is now fatherless,” said Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St. Louis. “Companies that operate with high-voltage electricity must train workers to recognize hazards and use proper procedures to prevent electrical shock. No one should die on-the-job.”

Ferro Magnetics was cited for one willful and 14 serious safety violations. In its inspection, OSHA found multiple electrical safety hazards; machines with moving parts without safety guards; and inadequate protections to stop machine starts during service and maintenance. Inspectors also found that appropriate personal protective equipment was not supplied by the company. Additionally, hazardous chemicals were stored improperly and employees were allowed to use damaged powered industrial trucks.

In 2013, there were 71 worker fatalities due to electrocution, and 29 CFR 1910.305, OSHA’s electrical standard, is one of the top ten most frequently violated OSHA standards. In one of the citations against Ferro Magnetics, OSHA noted, “The employer did not assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).”

OSHA also said that Ferro Magnetics “did not establish a program consisting of energy control procedures, employee training and periodic inspections to ensure that before any employee performs any servicing or maintenance on a machine or equipment where the unexpected energizing, startup or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury, the machine or equipment was not isolated from the energy source and rendered inoperative.”

Said McDonald: “Ferro Magnetics must act now to train its workers, so that another family does not suffer.”

The company faces penalties of $106,400.

Bridgeton, Mo.-based Ferro Magnetics sells its chargers nationwide for use in many industries. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with McDonald or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

P3 strives to bring you quality relevant industry related news.

See the origial article and read more at: http://ehstoday.com/training/osha-lack-ppe-and-training-cost-electrical-technician-his-life

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2121 Hits

The NEC of power quality

The National Electrical Code offers some advice but contains few rules about power quality. With the exception of two rules about neutrals serving harmonic-producing loads, most of what the Code has to say about power quality is in Fine Print Notes.

The NEC is a safety standard and not a design specification. This is clearly stated in Section 90-1. Power quality issues include such things as electromagnetic Interference, distortion of voltage and current waveforms, reliability and continuity of power, voltage regulation, and so on. These are primarily performance issues. The NEC does not contain many performance requirements.

Power quality problems, although disruptive to operations, are not necessarily safety problems. For example, excessive voltage drop can be a significant power quality issue affecting the operation of equipment. The NEC contains two well known "rules" about voltage drop. Section 210-19(a) FPN No. 4 and Section 215-2(b) FPN No. 2 address the issue of voltage drop. However, neither of these references actually contains a "rule." Both references are FPNs, which, according to 90-5, are advisory only. The Code basically treats voltage drop as a design issue.

To facilitate design solutions to some power-quality problems, the NEC allows some deviations from the normal requirements if the safety objectives are met. Specifically, Section 250-74 Exception No. 4 contains the installation requirements for isolated grounding conductors. Other sections of the NEC allow isolated grounding conductors to pass through boxes and panelboards without being connected to the boxes or panelboard, thus slightly increasing the impedance of the ground-fault return path. These other sections of the Code also reference 250-74 Exception No. 4 for installation requirements. The installation requirements ensure that the safety objectives of equipment grounding conductors are preserved and allow for the reduction of electromagnetic interference.

Many devices are available to reduce harmonic distortion or otherwise improve power quality. Article 280 contains rules about surge arresters; some are useful in protecting equipment from power-quality problems. Otherwise, the Code has no special rules about power conditioners, filters, special-purpose transformers, or other mitigation devices. Manufacturer design, installation guides, and IEEE documents provide information about the proper use of these devices.

Harmonic currents that distort waveforms and can lead to overheating conductors or equipment are of particular interest. Excessive neutral currents due to the additive nature of odd harmonics in wye-connected systems have been the subject of much discussion. Many proposals were made for the 1993 NEC to address the issue of harmonic currents. These included proposals ranging from adding warnings or advice in Fine Print Notes to requiring neutrals to be doubled in size.

In response to these proposals, the NEC Correlating Committee formed a subcommittee to study the issue of harmonic currents and nonlinear loads. The Report of the NEC Correlating Committee Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Nonlinear Loads was published in the Report on Proposals for the 1996 NEC. The report included the following summary statement:

"The conclusion of the subcommittee is that while nonlinear loads can cause undesirable operational effects, including additional heating, no significant threat to persons and property has been adequately substantiated." This is not to say that there was no evidence, only that it was anecdotal and not "adequately substantiated." Although the committee stated it agreed "with the present Code text regarding nonlinear loads," it did make four recommendations, all of which were implemented in the 1996 NEC. The committee recommended adding a definition of nonlinear load, revising Code text to use the term nonlinear load, adding Fine Print Notes that describe or warn of the problems that come with nonlinear loads, and changing the rules of Section 310-4 to permit paralleling of neutrals smaller than 1/0 AWG in existing installations.

New installations can be readily designed to handle the harmonic distortion created by nonlinear loads. The expanding use of nonlinear loads in existing installations is less easily remedied. Therefore, the subcommittee also recommended that standards organizations "work with manufacturers of nonlinear load products" to reduce harmonic distortion at the sources.

Additional heating due to harmonics is most likely to occur in wye-connected four-wire systems with line-to-neutral connected loads. Other than the change in Section 310-4 mentioned above, two Code rules are most important with regard to the neutral conductors of such systems. First, Section 220-22 allows neutral conductors to be reduced in size from the ungrounded conductor size where the load on the neutral is primarily due to unbalance. A reduction is not allowed for that portion of the load that is nonlinear. The second rule is in Note 10(b) and (c) to the Allowable Ampacity Tables 310-16 through 310-19. This rule requires neutral conductors of wye-connected systems to be counted as current-carrying conductors for the purposes of Note 8 "where the major portion of the load consists of nonlinear loads." Directly or indirectly, both rules have the effect of increasing the size of neutral conductors subjected to harmonic currents.

The NEC does not have any specific rules that require neutral conductors to be increased in size above the size of the ungrounded conductors. The neutral current can theoretically be as much as 173% of the balanced ungrounded conductor current due to nonlinear loads. Nevertheless, the subcommittee found that in actual surveys relatively few installations (about 5%) had neutral currents exceeding the ampacity of the neutral conductor. The subcommittee concluded there was insufficient evidence to require neutral conductors be oversized by any standard factor.

Heating of transformers due to non-sinusoidal currents is also a concern. Special transformers, commonly called K-rated transformers, are available to help deal with this problem. The NEC does not provide any special rules for K-rated transformers. However, 450-3 FPN No. 2 calls attention to the problem, and 450-9 FPN No. 2 provides a reference to IEEE Recommended Practice for Establishing Transformer Capability When Supplying Nonsinusoidal Load Currents, ANSI/IEEE C57.110-1986. Other Fine Print Notes that address nonlinear loads can be found following the definition of nonlinear load in Article 100 and following Sections 210-4(a), 220-22, and 310-4. All of these Code references provide advice, but leave the solutions to design professionals.

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See the origial article and read more at: http://ecmweb.com/cee-news-archive/nec-power-quality

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Data centers’ water use has investors on alert; Omaha touts lower average temp as advantage

google dc

Google, which has data centers in Council Bluffs, declined to say how much water the company’s data centers use, but said that the company redesigns its cooling technology on average about every 12 to 18 months. The company has also designed data centers that use air instead of water for cooling, it said.

Data centers, used by governments and large corporations to house their computer systems, have one big environmental problem: They get hot.

To keep them from overheating, large data centers can pump hundreds of millions of gallons of water a year through the facilities, according to company reports. That high demand for water has some investors concerned, especially in places where natural water resources are becoming ever more precious, like tech-heavy California.

“We definitely want our portfolio companies to be cognizant of their water use and take the appropriate steps to minimize their water use and recycle water,” said Brian Rice, portfolio manager at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which manages about $189 billion in assets as of June 30. He cited water usage as a concern at data centers as well as at other portfolio companies, such as those in agriculture.

In Omaha, economic development promoters touted to the Wall Street Journal the city’s annual average temperature of 51 degrees. (Compare that to Los Angeles’ 64 degrees.) They say a more moderate annual temperature makes it easier to keep cool the heat-generating computer equipment at a data center.

California — home to companies running some of the world’s biggest data centers — houses more than 800 of the facilities, the most of any state, according to Dan Harrington, research director of 451 Research, a technology consulting firm.

Water usage there is especially a concern as the state’s drought pushes into its fifth year. California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order in May to extend statewide emergency water restrictions, establishing long-term measures to conserve water.

The water risk to investors of California-based companies operating data centers will not affect them gradually, said Julie Gorte, senior vice president of sustainable investing at Pax World Management. “It will probably come in one big splashy moment,” she said.

As a result, some sustainable-minded investors are trying to enhance their understanding of water risk before it becomes a liability, said Cate Lamb, head of water at investor environmental advocacy group CDP. The group held a series of workshops this year for investors to discuss their most crucial water reporting needs, such as isolating water risk of individual assets. The number of institutional investors committed to its water engagement program with companies has grown to 617 from 150 in 2010.

Operational efficiencies at data centers have a direct link to companies’ profitability and pose an increasing risk for investors in a “tense” climate change environment, said Himani Phadke, research director at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, a nonprofit that writes corporate sustainability reporting guidelines for investors.

Companies, like investors, are trying to get ahead of the risk.

Bill Weihl is director of sustainability at Facebook, which has a data center in Altoona, Iowa. Weihl said the company uses a combination of fresh air and water to cool its data centers.

In 2015 Facebook said it used 221 million gallons of water, with 70 percent of that consumption at its data facilities. “We designed our data centers to use about half the water a typical data center uses,” he said.

Around Facebook’s Prineville, Oregon, data center in particular, water efficiency has become “a big issue,” Weihl said.

The center is east of the Cascade Mountains, a region that tends to be drier than the western side of the state, and businesses must compete with farmers and a growing local population for water.

Weihl said rainwater captured and used for irrigation and toilet-flushing at the center saves 272,000 gallons of municipally treated water per year. Facebook is also working with the City of Prineville and its engineers on the town’s water plan, which includes water mitigation and recycling “gray water” from buildings, he said.

Google, which has data centers in Council Bluffs, declined to say how much water the company’s data centers use, but said that the company redesigns its cooling technology on average about every 12 to 18 months. The company has also designed data centers that use air instead of water for cooling, it said.

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Schneider Electric ranked among the world's top green companies

Carbon Clean 200

Very proud to share that Schneider Electric is among the top ranked companies in the first ever Carbon Clean 200 list - coming in at no. 4! The Clean 200 ranks the largest publicly listed companies worldwide by their total clean energy revenues, as rated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. To qualify, companies must have a market capitalisation of at least $1bn and generate 10 per cent of their revenues from clean sources. Thake a look at the report here: http://www.clean200.org/

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