NEWS IN THE WORLD OF POWER AND INTEGRATED BUILDING SYSTEMS
California Ready for More Renewables
NEMA and UL Revise GFCI Standard, Phase out Old GFCIs
> IN THE QUEST TO REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMP TION and greenhouse
gas emissions, no state has done more than California. While records have
been broken and standards have been set, much more can be done.
That was the message from California Gov. Jerry Brown to state
leaders in January. In his inaugural address for an unprecedented
fourth term, Brown challenged the Golden State to build on its many
accomplishments and raise the bar even higher. In laying out the
challenge, he first noted the state’s previous successes, describing its
legal approach to climate change as “the most far-reaching environ-
mental laws of any state and the most integrated policy to deal with
climate change of any political jurisdiction on the Western Hemisphere.”
Gov. Brown lauded the state’s landmark legislation, AB 32, enacted
in 2006, which gave it a number of tools for addressing climate change.
He noted that the state’s recently enacted cap-and-trade system, one of
the results of AB 32, has already set an example for the rest of the world
for how to properly price carbon emissions in a market that leads to
innovation and greater reductions.
AB 32 required that California reduce carbon emissions to 1990
levels by 2020, a reduction of approximately 15 percent. Additionally,
California has a renewable energy portfolio of 33 percent, also to be
reached by 2020. Brown noted that, while the state is on target to reach
these goals, he wants it to do even more.
Toward that end, he challenged California to raise its renewable
standard to 50 percent by the year 2030. In that time frame, he also
wants to see a reduction in petroleum used in cars and trucks by 50
percent and a doubling of the energy efficiency of existing buildings.
Brown believes all of this is possible if California pursues a broad
range of initiatives. These include more distributed power, expanded
rooftop solar, microgrids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage,
the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution, and millions of electric and low-carbon cars.
> WHEN IT COMES TO ELECTRICITY and electrical devices,
organizations such as the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) try
to make living and working with modern conveniences safer for
installers and end-users.
In January, NEMA and UL announced changes to the UL
Standard 943 Standard for Safety for Ground-Fault Circuit
Interrupters (GFCIs) that will take effect on June 29, 2015. All
manufacturers must meet these revisions with GFCIs produced
as of that date. Current GFCI designs may continue to be sold
and installed until inventories are depleted.
The revisions to the standard were developed by a NEMA-led
group in response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission
(CPSC) requesting automonitoring requirements on GFCIs.
NEMA has stated that GFCIs need to be tested periodically;
however, most end-users don’t do so regularly. Furthermore,
NEMA said, even with regular testing, it is possible for an undetected failure or malfunction to occur between tests. A system of
automonitoring would solve those problems.
Responding to CPSC staff concerns, UL approved a NEMA-sponsored proposal to add GFCI self-test and power denial
requirements in the most recent edition of UL 943.
“UL has worked with NEMA members on the UL 943 revisions in an effort to improve the safety of GFCIs and to add a
layer of protection for the consumer,” said Lisa Salley, UL’s vice
president and general manager–Energy and Power Technologies.
Manufacturers have until June 29 to comply. At that time,
electrical contractors should begin evaluating new GFCIs to
ensure they have automonitoring systems.