American Superconductor has supplied the Tennessee Valley Authority with the first SuperVAR dynamic synchronous condenser, which stabilises grid voltages, boosts service reliability and could help to maximise transmission capacity. The product is said to reduce the threat of power outages by ensuring that supply voltage is properly regulated. The condenser acts as a shock absorber for the grid. It absorbs or generates reactive power, depending on the voltage level of the transmission system. The product also protects against voltage transients caused by lightning storms and other unforeseeable occurrences. The need for utilities to ensure balanced reactive power on their grids has become an urgent priority since the recent blackouts highlighted their vulnerability. ?In today?s digital economy, keeping voltage levels constant and stable is vital,? says the executive vice president of Transmission Power Supply Group, Terry Boston. ?That?s what TVA?s customers expect, and we believe that?s what this new technology will help us deliver.? The SuperVAR synchronous condenser has been installed at TVA?s electrical substation, which serves a steel mill operated by the Hoeganaes Corporation in Gallatin, Tennessee. The company will buy five more condensers if the original purchase proves successful.

Powergen has announced that it will raise its electricity and gas prices from 5 January as a result of pressures facing suppliers.

The price increase is largely due to the sharp increase in wholesale costs, which have risen by over 25% for electricity and 18% for gas in the last twelve months. Other difficulties include the rising cost of gas transportation, system balancing and costs incurred by the Renewables Obligation.

The increase will be an average of 6.9% for electricity and 4.9% for gas. Prices will remain the same for small business contract customers and customers on capped price products until their contracts expire.

In an attempt to help its more vulnerable customers, Powergen says it will not increase the prices for prepayment meter customers until April, with Age Concern and Staywarm customers paying the same prices until the situation is reviewed in spring.

The managing director of Powergen Retail, Nick Horler, says: ?Powergen is not alone in facing these increasing costs but it is the only leading energy supplier not to have raised its consumer electricity prices in seven years. Even as our competitors? electricity prices have gone up over the course of this year, we have held off. With this change, these prices are still 12% cheaper in real terms than they were in 1996 while, for gas, at least eight out of 10 households would be better off with us than British Gas.?

The U.K. renewable energy industry may not reach the government-set target of providing 10% of the country's energy by 2010, according to a report released today by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services. Wind power, which is expected to be the main means of reaching this target, may suffer from under investment. "The Renewables Obligation scheme, introduced in April 2002, may not provide sufficient incentives for investments in renewables," said Standard & Poor's. Infrastructure Finance credit analyst, Jan Willem Plantagie, comments: "The U.K. scheme appears less supportive than in other EU countries. This and other factors mean that the U.K. lags considerably behind countries such as Denmark, Spain, and Germany, despite having a greater abundance of windy weather." The report, entitled "U.K. Blows Hot and Cold Over Wind Power", outlines the challenges faced by the wind power sector in the U.K and examines the current U.K. regulatory framework for wind power projects. It accompanies a more general report, also published today, entitled "Are European Wind Power Projects on their way to Investment Grade?" covering the major credit concerns of wind power projects in Europe. Both reports are available to subscribers of RatingsDirect, Standard & Poor's Web-based credit analysis system, at

The use of gas turbines for power generation is well established. The risks associated with it arise from the use of fuel under pressure, often in an enclosure, the high speed rotating equipment, noise, and electrical hazards. There have been a number of major incidents, and a larger number of lesser incidents in recent years. HSE was concerned over these risks and the dangers to personnel.

HSE published the first edition of PM 84 in 2000 as a means of providing guidance to manufacturers, suppliers and operators, and to its Inspectors, on the principles that should be applied to reduce these risks so far as possible.

The first edition of PM 84 was well received and has been widely applied. Following comments from the industry, requests for additional information and references, technical developments, and incident experience, HSE has revised and expanded the guidance.

The risk assessment section has been revised to take account of recent legislation, in particular the requirements of DSEAR, the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 which implement the Atex "Workplace" Directive.

It is anticipated that the revised document will represent a clear and comprehensive set of guidelines, and will help to improve and maintain a high safety standard in this industry pending the publication of ISO 21789, a new Gas Turbine Applications Safety Standard, which is currently being drafted.

Newey & Eyre has launched a new range of personal protective equipment (PPE) for electrical contractors and installers.

The free catalogue also includes a range from US-based PPE firm, Vallen, and Newey's believe that the selection of core products cover most hazardous scenarios.

For a free catalogue, contact Newey & Eyre on freephone 0800 783 6909.

A new ASDA distribution centre at Lutterworth, part of a ?200m investment in the company?s distribution network, is now protected by an intelligent fire detection system. The Apollo-based fire detection system was designed and installed by Contract Fire Systems to protect merchandise and staff and includes over 400 Apollo Discovery intelligent fire detectors. The Magna Park centre at Lutterworth required a high level of protection but unnecessary interruptions caused by false alarms was unacceptable. The Discovery range includes ionisation and optical smoke detectors, a heat detector, a multisensor (combined smoke and heat) and manual call -point. The five panel-selectable bands available with the range are useful in warehouse environments, where high ceilings mean access to fire detectors for setting and maintenance would be difficult. Programming from the panels enables an installer to stay at floor level during commissioning. The networked, five-panel fire detection system, containing in excess of 400 Apollo Discovery devices arranged over 17 loops, offers a multi-stage evacuation sequence to ensure the safety of the site?s staff, and also has a four-hour fire wall.

Given the recent disturbances on the National Grid, UPS system manufacturers are justifiably expecting a boost to sales. The essential component of their product is the battery and UK?s largest valve-regulated lead acid battery manufacturer Yuasa already devotes 50% of its local output to the UPS market. Its factory in Ebbw Vale, South Wales, produces up to 5.5 million VRLA batteries a year. Managing director of Yuasa Battery Sales UK, Malcolm Howes, says that the death of lead acid batteries has been predicted for the past three decades but the technology goes from strength to strength. ?We change the chemistry of the batteries to suit specific customer requirements. For cyclic operation where long life and reliability is expected, such as wheelchairs and golf carts, we designed a range from 8Ah to 65Ah at a 20-hour rate which provides a high cycle life. The metallurgy, plate design and electrolyte make up a unique chemistry to give the user a reliable low-maintenance product. No-one wants to be stuck on the eighth green and have to carry the clubs home.? Apart from UPS and mobility applications the VRLA battery is widely used in the telecomm sector. The latest models have front terminals, which is a common requirement for that industry, and a float service life of up to 15 years. Although the major part of our production Worldwide is VRLA batteries, Yuasa also make Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) cells for the electronic and instrumentation sectors. Yuasa also expands through acquisition and famous names such as Lucas, Oldham, Crompton and Tungston are part of the group. ?Automotive batteries account for an increasing part of our European sales,? says Howes. ?The modern car is more like a hotel with air conditioning, communications and entertainment systems as well as the traditional starting, lighting and control systems. The requirement of the automotive battery has changed. Here again we look at changing the chemistry to suit the requirement. We are fortunate that our experience of making batteries for our industrial customers allows us to use the knowledge to design and produce more powerful, more suitable batteries for today?s cars.? There is much research into the automotive battery market and applications with voltage changes, new materials and shapes of batteries are being proposed.

Contractors filling in forms and writing letters are not earning money. Cutting down the office work is possible with a CD produced by ex-contractor Roy Armstrong. When he left East Midlands Electricity Roy produced a simple software package that contained templates of all the forms, letters and documents that a small to medium-sized contractor would need. The templates can be customised or simply filled in and printed off. For a contractor starting up, contemplating certification for Part P or moving up the ladder and after a more professional appearance to the company letters and documents, this is a valuable tool. The Electrical Contracting Simplified (ECS) software produces proven documents and letters built on Roy?s 35-years of practical design, estimating and management experience. Once installed, the easy-to-use template can be punch up, filled in and printed off. Simple to use? ?If you cannot understand it in two minutes, we don?t do it,? says Roy. ?We know these templates, design tips and spreadsheets work because contractors are using them and telling us how useful they are.? Health and Safety, short cuts for estimating, job management, company policy, operating and maintenance, design, test and inspection help sheets and more than 45 different templates for all those tricky letters that a busy firm will have to write. No more chewing the end of a pencil wondering if there?s a better way of putting it, the templates include letters for chasing up late payers, issuing staff warnings, accident reports and schedules for ?as fitted? drawings. For a limited period readers can get a special deal on Electrical Contracting Simplified, which is a CD collection of templates, spreadsheets and design tips run on Microsoft Office and Excel. A single copy of the software is normally ?295 plus VAT. Readers are offered this at the special price of ?245 plus VAT. Quote ET500 when ordering. For a multi-licence for up to 5 computers, normally ?495 plus VAT readers are offered the special price of ?345 plus VAT. Quote ET600 when ordering. For more information, a trial copy or a friendly chat about the state of the contracting business, contact Roy Armstrong on Tel 01455 891869, or you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Visit the website for free downloads.

Market forces down prices Market forces down prices The majority of local authorities are awarding contracts on the basis of lowest cost, according to a report from the Specialist Engineering Contractors (SEC) Group. The SEC Group conducted the survey among members of the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors, The Electrical Contractors' Association and the Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association. Some 88% of respondents said that the majority of their local authority work continued to be let on lowest price alone, while 60% indicated that quality had not been a deciding factor in the award of any of their contracts. This pattern was repeated by first-line contractors subletting local authority work, with 64% confirming that all of their sub-contracts were awarded on lowest price. Almost 90% reported that most of their direct contracts with local authorities did not involve a partnering element. SEC Group chief executive Rudi Klein urged local authorities to

Free explosion protection poster

In response to the ATEX Directives, Phoenix Contact has produced a poster explaining the definitions and descriptions surrounding the referencing of product approvals.

Available free of charge, the poster offers manufacturers, users and operators a basic understanding of the new standards (with details of key information on such items as CE marking, temperature class, categories and types of protection) to aid in the selection of new ATEX-approved components.

While the poster is primarily aimed at the oil and gas industries, Phoenix believes it is equally beneficial wherever electrical equipment is installed in hazardous environments.

Tel: 01952 681700

Smiths Interconnect, the Smiths Group subsidiary, is to supply up to $500m of cable assemblies for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Delivery of the first Times Microwave Broadband Airborne Cable Assemblies, which are designed to handle high-speed data in extreme avionics environments, is planned for early 2004.

Chosen by Lockheed Martin, the contract is one of a number of collaborations between the two companies on the F-35 JSF, production of which is scheduled to commence in 2006, continuing to 2026.

WEG commonly refers to its special outdoor enclosures as ?Bear Proof? units. Now we know why.

A panel supplied by WEG and installed in the north of New Mexico was recently subjected to a mauling by a hungry Black Bear. Chancing his paw in the hope of finding a potential meal inside, the bear decided to attempt to break through the twin door glass-fronted unit. However, unlike car windows, which regularly succumb to the will of hungry bears in the region, the WEG enclosure stood firm. As a result, the company has received an order for several hundred more units for use in the same region.

The panel design was originally a specific answer to the harsh climate in the Americas, where outdoor installations are routinely subjected to nature?s extremes. To protect the panels they are designed with twin glass-fronted doors, which enable the enclosure with its drive and associated equipment to operate at high latitudes in regions subject to snow and very low temperatures, and also in regions with high ambient temperatures up to 40?C.

Variations in temperature are accommodated by thermostat-controlled space heaters and an internal cooling system, while a positive pressure system is used to deny air entry in different parts of the panel. These measures, says WEG, keep the system in good order and ensure the panel door stays demisted.

?We do not have too many bears in the UK,? admits WEG UK product manager for drives, Graham Perry. ?But we do have enough applications that require special protection against the elements.?