themaster Registered by Australia Post Publications No. PP424022/2346
inside Helping turn the tide Demand rising for new solutions Keeping the lights on in Timor THE INTERVIEW: Neil Roberts
table ofcontents renewable energy spotlight testing times demand rising for new solutions the buzz keeping the lights on in timor managing working capital meet a master electrician news from the distributors regulator wrap-up letter of the law the interview gadget guide techno biz helping turn the tide technical talk workplace relations grid gossip test drive events calendar your best or worst story last word
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MASTER ELECTRICIANS AUSTRALIA 57 Berwick Street, Fortitude Valley PO Box 2438, Fortitude Valley BC Queensland 4006 PHONE 1300 889 198 FAX 07 3251 2400 EMAIL email@example.com WEB www.masterelectricians.com.au ABN 31 145 178 203
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National standards for electrical safety are mandatory. Isnâ€™t it time we implement a uniform approach to a national electrical equipment safety regime? This edition we look at the true impact of inconsistent testing and accreditation practices across the country. Located in a camp in East-Timor, one Australian Army Electrical Technician is helping rebuild the nation. Turn to page 20 to read about a day in the life of this inspiring Aussie soldier. The destruction from the recent Queensland and Victorian floods has been devastating for so many Australian families. With tens of thousands of homes left without power, MEA took a lead role in managing the response to coordinate over 6,000 electrical safety tests to help flood affected homeowners return home. Turn to page 47 to read more.
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Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this publication are offered solely in pursuance of the objects of the Electrical and Communications Association and Master Electricians Australia to provide an informative service to contractors in the electrical industry on legal, commercial and other issues and problems related to the industry. The Electrical and Communications Association and Master Electricians Australia are not aware that any person intends to act or rely upon such statements and opinions contained in this publication or the manner in which it might be possible to do so. The Electrical and Communications Association and Master Electricians Australia issues no invitation to any member or other persons to act or rely upon such statements or opinions or any of them and it accepts no responsibility for any of them. It intends by this provision to exclude, to the extent permitted by law, all liability for any such statements and opinions. The Master Electrician Magazine can be viewed online at www.masterelectricians.com.au
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Renewable Energy Spotlight CATCHING THE SUN
An Australian Climate Change Solutions Research Organisation has come up with a $380 billion plan for an emissions free future in electricity generation. It’s the Holy Grail of renewable energy – solar electricity that is available to power homes and businesses around the clock. Previously, the problems of generating sufficient energy for use at night time, on cloudy days and during periods of peak demand have stopped solar being regarded as a serious option for permanent – or “base load” – energy. But now a climate change solutions research organisation, Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), has delivered a plan it claims can deliver base load electricity via a network of solar and wind power stations. The BZE plan incorporates a dozen Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) plants, which use fields of mirrors to reflect and focus the sun’s rays, and 6400 wind turbines spread across 23 regions Australia-wide. The heart of the plan, however, is a revolutionary concept of storing excess solar energy as heat, in tanks of hot molten salt. “Similar to a hydroelectricity dam, CST plants with heat storage can dispatch electricity as needed at very short notice. This is achieved by using the heat from the stored molten salt to produce steam as necessary,” the BZE report says. The molten salt tanks provide enough stored energy to allow power generation for 17 hours without sunlight. According to the Zero Emissions report, the combination of wind, solar and heat storage provides an electricity source that is “better
“The heart of the plan, however, is a revolutionary concept of storing excess solar energy as heat, in ponds of hot molten salt.”
The Gemasolar Plant in Spain has 15 hours of storage.
than base load”. “For example, during periods of high wind speeds, wind generated electricity is dispatched to the grid first, while the sun’s energy is used mainly to heat salt for storage. “Conversely, when wind speeds are low, the hot molten salt at CST plants is used to produce extra steam for the turbines and hence make up for the lull in wind generation.” Beyond Zero Emissions argues its plan is based on proven
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technology and can be delivered within 10 years. However, turning it from a pipe dream into a genuine replacement for coal- and gas-powered electricity generation will require a staggering $370 billion investment over the decade. This compares with around $135 billion that BZE estimates would need to be spent on maintaining and upgrading existing power stations under a “business as usual” scenario. The additional spending would add 6.5c/KWh to today’s electricity tariffs, costing an average household $400 more every year. However, BZE says the cost is manageable, given Australia’s economic prosperity. “Although the Plan does require a high degree of up-front investment, in the longer term it aims to release Australia from the twin threats of rising fuel costs and the potentially immense expenditure associated with future climate change. There are no roadblocks to implementing the Plan given Australia’s economic capacity.” Beyond Zero Emissions Executive Director, Matthew Wright, has
called on all sides of politics to pick up the ideas contained in the report as part of their climate change policies. “All parties must incorporate findings from the Zero Carbon Australia plan into its climate policy. Our research shows that baseload renewable energy is now available and that Australia can get started building a renewable energy system, right now, today,” he says. “Australia needs a nation-building climate change project with the scale and vision of a Snowy Mountains Scheme for the 21st Century. We can repower our economy with 100 per cent renewable energy, and set ourselves up for energy security and prosperity.” The BZE report says building its green power network would require a peak of 80,000 construction workers and an extra 30,000 manufacturing workers by 2016. “The Plan would create a further 45,000 ongoing jobs in operations and maintenance of the renewable energy infrastructure, which would more than offset the loss of around 20,000 jobs in the domestic fossil energy supply sector.” For more information, visit http://beyondzeroemissions.org
CIRT HELPS YOU TO REDUCE THE DRAIN ON YOUR COMPANY’S CASH FLOW CIRT was established in 1990 to provide redundancy beneﬁts to the electrical industry. CIRT allows employers to contribute money each month on behalf of their employees. That way if a redundancy occurs, the CIRT contributions form either part or all of any redundancy payment and the employer can include the money already contributed as part of the redundancy payment. CIRT provides beneﬁts for the following situations: redundancy, retirement, leaving the industry, severe ﬁnancial hardship, total and permanent disability, death. Contact CIRT now for all your industry redundancy needs. Administered by Malcolm V. Leeke & Co. Chartered Accountants
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TESTING TIMES Support is growing for a uniform national electrical equipment safety regime.
In early 2010, a home owner received an electric shock while she was using a popular brand of washing machine. When she contacted the manufacturer, she was told that the company was aware of a common problem with the appliance which could result in electric shocks, and it was repairing machines as they were found to be faulty. However, the company had not recalled the machine, despite knowing it had the potential to create an electric shock. Regulators in Queensland – where the woman purchased and used the machine – were powerless to force a recall because the product had been tested and accredited for sale in South Australia. As such, action could only be taken in South Australia for an electric shock that occurred in Queensland. More recently, Victorian electrical safety regulators identified a brand of imported safety switch that did not meet Australian standards under test conditions. Despite concerns in other states, the product could only be tested in Victoria because that’s where it had been approved for sale. Unless Victorian authorities ordered a recall of the product, other states were powerless to act. While the importer has voluntarily withdrawn the line from sale, there has so far been no move to check or replace thousands of the products currently installed in homes across Australia. These two incidents highlight ongoing flaws in Australia’s electrical safety regulations, which vary widely from state to state in terms of compliance, inspections and penalties for faulty products.
“Regulators in Queensland – where the woman purchased and used the machine – were powerless to force a recall because the product had been tested and accredited for sale in South Australia.”
In early 2007, the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) representing the safety regulators in each state and New Zealand recognised there was an increasing risk of unsafe electrical equipment being supplied in Australia. This was partly due to the growing reliance on imported electrical equipment, which is tested when a prototype is prepared for market but not regularly re-tested to ensure its ongoing compliance with Australian laws. The ERAC regulator members undertook a comprehensive review, and recommended a new Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS), featuring: • Nationally consistent laws detailing the equipment included in the testing regime, and setting out consistent obligations and penalties • A national database where all suppliers and certain higher risk equipment must be registered prior to equipment being offered for sale • Risk-based classification of equipment into three levels (high, medium and low risk) with proportionate testing standards for each level
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ME 10 • A uniform approach to equipment recalls and safety obligations. Importantly, the EESS also provides for a program of ongoing inspections and testing after a product has been released on to the market. The EESS is scheduled to begin operating in July 2011. Master Electricians Australia (MEA) has welcomed the EESS proposals and supports the move to consistent national safety regulations for electrical equipment. In its recent Switch Thinking report, MEA called on all states and territories to adopt and implement the EESS. MEA General Manager, Andrew Bailey, said the national system would lead to greater electrical safety in Australian homes, and was long overdue. “Australia is a single country – we should have a single electrical safety regime. We should certainly have moved past the point of having eight different systems,” Mr Bailey said. “We have national standards for electrical safety, but they are currently being enforced by a range of state and territory regulators with differing capacity and priorities for testing and compliance. “The EESS will provide the uniform national system that Australia needs. The end result will be greater certainty about whether products comply with national standards, a proactive approach to testing once products are on the market, and better avenues for safety recalls when products are found to be faulty. “This all adds up to higher quality electrical products, and greater safety for all Australians.”
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Demand rising for new solutions www.masterelectricians.com.au
As Australia’s electricity use grows with the population, power authorities are looking for new ways to keep the lights on. It’s the end of a busy working day, and all across Australia families are heading home. In every state, lights and televisions are flicked on as previously quiet homes come to life. As the evening meal ritual begins, microwave ovens, stoves and other appliances are put to work. Later, they’ll be followed by dishwashers and cleaning equipment. In northern areas, air-conditioners and pool pumps are working overtime. And in all parts of the country, electricity generators are running at full capacity in order to keep the power flowing throughout this peak demand period. On just one or two of the hottest days in the year, demand for electricity nationwide will reach its maximum levels for the year. And although it will be for only a few hours on a few days these are the times that our electricity generation and distribution networks must be built to sustain. In Victoria, peak demand is believed to account for just 0.3 per cent of total electricity supply time (just 25 hours per year), but is responsible for almost 18 per cent of the wholesale cost of electricity. In previous decades, State Governments and power utilities scrambled to expand network capacity, as population growth and rising living standards sent power use soaring. The new mantra for electricity authorities, however, is “demand management”. Rather than continually expanding the network, distributors and retailers are looking to flatten the demand peak through more efficient appliances, changes to human behaviour and – although this remains a politically difficult option – charging more for electricity at those peak times when it costs the most to produce. In a submission to the Prime Minister’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency last year, the NSW Business Chamber warned of “the
Rather than continually expanding the network, distributors and retailers are looking to flatten the demand peak through more efficient appliances, changes to human behaviour and charging more for electricity at those peak times when it costs the most to produce. growing gap between peak energy demand and total energy demand”, saying it was an important factor behind the expensive electricity infrastructure investment programs recently approved in the state. “Demand management offers a possible alternative to further capital increases,” it said. “However, demand management does not presently appear to be playing a large enough role in network providers plans to make a significant difference to peak demand.” It called on the Federal Government to encourage greater demand management, in order to cut future power infrastructure needs and costs. It’s not a new notion. As far back as 2004, a report commissioned for the Australian Greenhouse Office warned that increasing household wealth and the decreasing price of air-conditioners was set to spark a boom in home installations of the devices. It said air-conditioners accounted for around 30 to 40 per cent of commercial electricity demand, and up to 50 per cent of domestic demand on peak summer days. As well as increasing the load on the power network, rising air-conditioner ownership was forcing up electricity supply prices for people without the machines. “There is a large and growing cross-subsidy from non-air conditioning households (including those with evaporative coolers) to those with air conditioners. The value of this cross-subsidy is estimated at $300-500 million per annum in the National Electricity Market area alone.” The report called on State Governments to implement stricter conditions on the sale of air-conditioners, including a requirement for greater energy efficiency. The warnings about increased air-conditioner use were realised earlier last year, when electricity prices hit record highs in New South Wales and Queensland.
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Getting smart about demand management
On Monday 18 January 2010, the temperature in Brisbane reached 36 degrees, leading to a surge in electricity demand, which pushed electricity spot prices to $9125/MWh by 3pm that day. This compares with average daily prices below $25/MWh in the first week of December 2010. A similar event in New South Wales on 22 February sent the spot electricity price skyrocketing to $8364/MWh. Energy retailers are now urging customers to move their power use away from peak periods – running dishwashers and pool pumps at night when other power use drops. In Queensland, distributors Ergon and Energex are jointly running a tariff trial to explore how variable electricity pricing may be used to change consumer behaviour and reduce consumption at peak times. Most State Governments have also talked about using smart meters to vary the cost of electricity at peak times. Some have toyed with the notion of appliances such as washing machines and dryers that can be hard-wired into a dedicated circuit in the home, which can be switched off when power generation is at its peak. In a number of submissions to government, one of the nation’s major retailers AGL has called for the ability to vary prices at peak times. AGL says prices to consumers “should fully reflect costs” in order to promote appropriate demand management and energy efficiency measures. A submission to the Queensland Government, states only two per cent of its customers are on “time-of-use” tariffs – where they can be charged more for power at peak periods – and that there is no such tariff in place for residential users. It says the increasing use of smart meters which measure the output to the grid from home solar panels, means “the opportunity to provide time-of-use pricing signal continues to grow”. However, politicians have so far proved reluctant to move down the path of restricting access or increasing prices at peak times, despite the recommendation to do so contained in a report by the Monash University Sustainability Institute. The report said “price signals” were an important part of changing consumer behaviour and managing demand. “Price signals, however, are not sufficient measures by themselves to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, so it is also recommended that a comprehensive behaviour change strategy for electricity use is established...” the report said. Consumer campaigns are far more palatable in a political sense. Whether they achieve the goal of long-term changes in the way we live and use electricity remains to be seen. www.masterelectricians.com.au
One of the most powerful weapons in the energy demand management battle is the new generation of electronic power meters, commonly known as “smart meters”. Smart meters allow more precise management and planning of network capacity, because of their two-way communication between the end user and the electricity distributor. This eliminates the need for old-style meter readings, or even a physical visit to the premises when the power is connected. All these tasks can be managed remotely. Power companies will also have instant notice of electricity failures, meaning the work of getting the lights back on will start more quickly. The meters can give energy suppliers real-time information on network demand, ensuring they are better able to match supply and demand at any given time. They also provide instant information on the amount of power being returned to the grid through solar or wind installations. Connected to a digital reader or computer, they can give consumers an insight into their own energy use, including identifying the appliances which use the most power. The real cost savings from smart meters, however, come from their ability to regulate supply of electricity to power-heavy devices such as air conditioners or pool pumps, or to increase the price of power at peak times, when the cost of delivering electricity is the greatest. Victoria is leading Australia in the implementation of smart meters, currently installing 2.5 million of the devices into homes and businesses across the state. However, the Smart Meter program in Victoria has been plagued by controversy, with the Auditor-General raising concerns over the cost of the roll-out, and social services groups protesting against the added cost time-of-use pricing may impose on low income earners. Initially, the state’s former government had promised consumers the right to choose a billing plan “like a mobile phone plan”, to suit their energy use patterns. “Depending on your power provider, your Smart Meter may be able to record peak and off-peak energy consumption separately for particular appliances,” it said. However, the government was forced to declare a moratorium on time-of-use pricing in March, following the community backlash. It remains to be seen whether Victoria’s new government will continue the smart meter rollout, and how it will deal with the timeof-use pricing issue which is central to the demand management capabilities of the smart meters.
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thebuzz Here’s the latest news from the electrotechnology industry across Australia.
Clipsal’s $1.3 million selection software revamp Clipsal has recently launched version two of its Clipspec electrical specification software programme for the new home market. Known simply as Clipspec 2.0, the upgrade represents a $1.3 million investment to redevelop the existing software. The process has been two years in the making and has involved a team
of six software engineers to develop the latest version. Clipsal says that electrical wholesalers, contractors and builders can expect Clipspec to triple the upsell of electrical products into homes while homeowners can anticipate a professional and informative electrical specification service. At present, 25 000 new home builder
clients each year (20 per cent of the entire market) are choosing their electrical accessories with Clipspec. Success with the programme saw consumers’ uptake in the electrical spend increase by up to 300 per cent. Greater exposure to Clipsal’s technology products have also led to a rise in home automation, home networking and other technology products.
New condition for creation of certificates for Small Generation Units (SGU) – providing details of out of pocket expenses From 1 February 2011, a registered person cannot create a certificate for an SGU unless they provide information on the total out of pocket expenses (including GST) the owner incurred in purchasing the system. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure ongoing transparency around the level of out-of-pocket costs for rooftop solar PV systems and other SGUs that receive additional support through Solar Credits. In most cases, the purchase price (including any additional charges for metering) will constitute the out of pocket expenses which are reported as a single reasonable estimate. However, in more complex supply arrangements, other information may need to be compiled in order to calculate and submit the single estimate of the total out of pocket expenses. The Regulator will publish aggregated data on the out-of-pocket expenses incurred for SGUs on the ORER website after the end of each quarter.
Rising Aussie dollar bigger shock than carbon price Australia’s economy has felt a bigger impact from the recent surge of the Australian dollar than it would have from the introduction of a carbon price, according to a recently released report. The research by leading consultants, Access Economics, compares the economic impact of the rising value of the Australian dollar with a price on carbon. The Australian economy has gone through the equivalent of an $85 per tonne carbon price from the sharp appreciation in the Australian dollar according to the report commissioned by the Clean Energy Council. The exchange rate movements had a broader impact on Australia’s international competitiveness, effectively moving the relative price of all traded goods. “Exchange rate movements and the introduction of a carbon price are similar to the extent that both have comparable economic impacts and firms are able to adapt to the new environment,” the report says. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said the research showed a carbon price is not going to wreck the Australian economy. “We have just lived through an exchange rate shock nearly twice as big as an aggressive Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. There is some sectoral pain but it’s otherwise business as usual,” Mr Warren said. “The debate should not retreat to ‘if’ we put a price on carbon, but rather ‘how’ we put a price on carbon.”
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Tax rules for solar clarified The Federal Government has clarified the tax rules for pensioners who have solar power systems in their homes. If the feed-in tariff is paid as a credit on a power bill, the credit is not deemed to be income. However, power sold back into the grid in return for cash, credit or direct deposit is considered income for tax purposes. Single pensioners are able to earn up to $142 a fortnight without affecting the amount of pension they receive and couples combined can earn up to $248 a fortnight without affecting the amount of pension they receive.
IPD Industrial Products has entered into a partnership with DEHN + SOHNE GmbH as a distributor throughout Australia and the Pacific Islands for DEHN’s comprehensive range of safety, earthing, lightning and overvoltage protection products. IPD will be stocking and supporting the full range of products DEHN have to offer. The DEHN products are manufactured and tested and certified to various international standards such as IEC and UL.
Electricity and other rises to cost families an extra $310 The average household in SA will now have to find an extra $310 to pay for basic utilities including water and rates. Welfare groups condemned the Essential Services Commission’s decision to approve the “astonishing” rise, which is more than four times the inflation rate and will add an extra $140 to the average annual power bill. The electricity price rise took effect on 1 January 2011, meaning the average annual bill will increase from $1160 to $1300. South Australians will endure the second most expensive electricity bills in the country, behind NSW.
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Wirez Electrical accepts invitation to join the Laser Group
Origin buys NSW power assets for $3.25bn ORIGIN Energy has finalised its $2.3 billion purchase of the retail arms of Integral Energy and Country Energy from the NSW government. Under the deal, Origin will pay a further $950 million for the output of Eraring Energy, which operates power stations on Lake Macquarie and in Shoalhaven. Hong Kong-owned TRUenergy will spend $2.035 billion to pick up EnergyAustralia’s retail business, the electricity trading rights for Mount Piper and Wallerawang coal-fired power stations and three power station development sites. The transactions followed a tumultuous day of negotiations that ended with the resignation of eight of the 11 board members of state-owned companies Eraring and Delta Electricity. The deal will increase Origin’s customers by more than 50 per cent, from three million accounts to 4.6 million, giving it a 33 per cent share of electricity and natural gas customer accounts in the National Electricity Market. The other big winner, CPL subsidiary TRUenergy, gains 2.76 million customers in NSW, ACT, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, effectively doubling its retail business.
After witnessing their meteoric success in the past 18 months, Laser Group has invited Wirez to join their exclusive group of contractors – the largest in Australia and New Zealand. Glowing customer reviews in both the commercial and residential markets, attributed to the consistently high service level provided by the Wirez team helped to seal the deal for Laser. Membership of Laser Electrical is by invitation only, which in itself is an indication of the reputation Laser has developed in the industry. Steve Keil, Managing Director of Laser Group Australia says we have always prided ourselves on our ability to hand-pick some of the best contracting businesses in the industry to join Laser. Companies like Laser Electrical Castle Hill are a fine example of why our business is so successful and can offer a service that is ‘totally dependable’.
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Keeping the lights on in Timor www.masterelectricians.com.au
A young electrician is working on a major building project – the job of creating a stable nation to Australia’s north. At some stage in their careers, most electricians will be confronted with working conditions that are difficult and dangerous, and often they will wish they were somewhere else. For Gladstone’s Josh Jones, the usual challenges of working in confined spaces are compounded by the heat, humidity and social instability of one of Australia’s nearest neighbours to make a very difficult working environment. 24-year old Josh is an Army electrical technician serving with the International Stabilisation Force in East Timor. He’s one of dozens of Australian Defence Force electricians currently deployed in hot spots around the world, including Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands. The Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF) was deployed to East Timor at the request of that country’s government, to help restore stability following the unrest experienced in April/May 2006. There are currently around 400 Australian troops serving as part
“Josh’s job is to seek out and fix any problems with their electrical equipment, to ensure nothing hinders the important work of nation building.”
of the ISF. Josh’s job is to seek out, repair and maintain any problems with their electrical equipment, to ensure nothing hinders the important work of nation building. He says it’s been the perfect way to combine his life goals. “When I left school I wanted learn a trade, do ‘soldier stuff’ and to see a bit of the world,” he said. “That’s what I set out to do, and now I’ve done it.” First stop on his journey was basic soldier training at Kapooka, near Wagga Wagga NSW. That was followed by 26 months of adult trade training in Bandiana VIC, and then he was posted as a tradesman to the 8/12th Medium Regiment (Royal Australian Artillery) in Darwin. Now he is the one person who keeps the ISF’s equipment functioning, so they can focus on their task of helping the people of East Timor find peace and stability. “I enjoy the responsibility of being the only technical electrician
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Limbless man Philippe Croizon swims the English Channel A Frenchman who lost all his limbs in an electrical accident swam across the English Channel, a challenge he’s been preparing for two years. Mr Croizon swims at around 3km/h, slightly slower than the four or five kilometres per hour that an able-bodied athlete might achieve. In 1994 the metalworker was hit by a 20,000 volt charge as he attempted to remove a television aerial from a house roof and an arc of current surged through him from a nearby powerline.
with the task force,” he said. “My main role is to maintain our fleet of generators, and I get a lot of satisfaction each time I fix a generator. “It means someone else can do their job. “I also do fault-finding on just about anything that uses power, and that adds some variety to the job.” Josh’s job allows him to travel throughout East Timor, soaking up the culture and meeting the local people. “The people are very friendly but a bit shy,” he said. “The little kids are pretty cheeky though and make you laugh.” The hours on deployment are long, but Josh’s team have a good record of keeping equipment working in the heat and humidity of East Timor’s wet season. “I’m enjoying myself on this operation, but I am looking forward to a long relaxing holiday when I get back,” he said.
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Get Your Workforce’s Skills & Experience Recognised Free Training and Skills Development Advice Gain access to subsidised training Skill up your workforce for future opportunities Energy Skills Solutions is a free service available for Queensland residents only. www.masterelectricians.com.au
Managing Working Capital to Maximise Your Cash flow www.masterelectricians.com.au
Working capital, being receivables (debtors), inventory (stock) and payables (creditors), are the three economic pillars of a successful business regardless of size or complexity.
Countless small-to-medium businesses in the electrical industry and related sectors don’t have the time or access to professional help to assist them manage their working capital and cash flow efficiently and effectively. Many believe that working capital “will look after itself”. It won’t! Less than optimal working capital management will cost your business money and can too often be a reason for business failure. Here are some best practice working capital tips: 1. It does not look after itself. You have to monitor and manage each area individually and as a whole 2. It is a fundamental barometer of the success of a business. Manage your working capital effectively and your cash flow will be positive and sustainable 3. D on’t over invest in working capital. A ratio of 2:1 (assets to liabilities) is desirable. For example receivables + inventory – payables should roughly equal 2:1 for liquidity purposes 4. H ave a plan to manage your working capital (bpworkingcapital can provide a guideline) don’t leave it to chance or, ignore it 5. B e consistent with your invoice payment terms and make sure your customer is clear about your terms. If possible, have all payment terms the same, so that you can manage the relationship between receiving invoice payments, paying suppliers, overheads, staff and of course yourself 6. W hen you complete a job, send the invoice to your customer within two to three business days, do not put it in the glove box of your ute or, even worse not make one out at all. Each job should have a corresponding invoice, sent quickly to your customer and recorded 7 .M ake sure invoices are correct. Disputes
over payment because the invoice detail is incorrect is a major reason for delays in payment 8. Put all invoices into an aged receivables spreadsheet by date issued, customer, amount and the date to be paid. Invoices should be aged so that you can monitor the progress of payments. The “aged buckets” should include total, current (not due), 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and 120+ days 9. Similarly, age your payables, or money you owe suppliers etc. Where possible, take early payment discounts Note: bpworkingcapital can provide templates for items seven and eight or, if you use an accounting package it should have those functionalities available. 10. Collect money owed to you. Use “proactive collection” to alert your customer that you are expecting an invoice to be paid on the due date. This should be a call a couple of weeks out from when the payment is due. You are not asking for payment when you call, you are ensuring that they have received the invoice, the details are correct and they are aware of the due date. With practice it becomes easy. Too many businesses start chasing unpaid invoices after the due date 11. Have ‘collection targets’ each month to match your expected projected cash flow. Chase the largest amounts first, with the smaller and further out amounts last. Having a collection target will ensure that you can manage your monthly cash flow more effectively 12. Dispute resolution is the key where there is non-payment due to a dispute. There are suitable techniques bpworkingcapital can provide that will help you should this occur. Resolving issues can be complex. The more you
follow these tips the less disputes you will have when payment is due 13. If you carry inventory, don’t overinvest by carrying too much. How much cover stock do you need or carry? Is it too much? How did you calculate it? Do you carry safety stock? How much? Can it be less? Are your suppliers nearby, interstate or overseas? These factors will determine the right amount of stock to carry and the amount you should invest 14. Do you have slow moving or obsolete stock? Where possible get rid of it by selling to third parties or on the internet. This is cash you can use to run your business
“Less than optimal working capital management will cost your business money and can too often be a reason for business failure.”
15. Don’t be afraid to seek advice. The exclusive relationship between Master Electricians and bpworkingcapital is to assist members regardless of their size, to understand, improve and manage their working capital and cash flow on a sustainable basis using a combination of our services (educational seminars) and products (InvoiceSelect and EquipSelect). Over the coming months we will be providing a series of working capital improvement and management seminars to members and/or their staff. In the interim please do not hesitate to contact Stephen Hilton on 0412 475 931, or email email@example.com if you need some advice. the master electrician
meet a masterelectrician upfront As a young boy growing up in Vietnam during the war, Minh Phan witnessed many serious electrical injuries as a result of unsafe work practices. Now a successful electrical contractor in Australia, becoming a Master Electrician was a natural step for this passionate safety advocate. In Australia, we expect a reasonable level of safety to protect the community. However, in Vietnam, as recently as June last year, the Vietnamese Government estimated there were 450 to 500 deaths resulting from electrocution each year. While the government has promised to improve safety standards in an effort to reduce fatalities, electrical safety has been a longterm crusade for Minh. “Growing up in Vietnam, I saw and heard of many people burned or electrocuted because of faulty electrical installations,” Minh recalls. “From then, I dreamed of one day becoming an electrician so I could save lives.” Minh achieved his dream of becoming an electrician by learning his trade part-time in Australia while running a Vietnamese restaurant full-time. He started his own electrical contracting business, Log-On Electrical, in early 2001. Nine years later, the successful Sydney business employs seven staff and enjoys a high demand of work. Having specialised in ducted airconditioning for new and existing homes for a number of years, Minh now focuses on solar panel installations for domestic and commercial customers. Minh’s business success has been driven by his passion to deliver high-quality and safe installations. He gains satisfaction each day by doing a professional job and providing convenience and satisfaction for his customers. It was this passion for electrical safety that led Minh to seek Master Electricians accreditation and implement the Master Electricians comprehensive safety management system - SafetyConnect. “I joined because of the program’s commitment to the highest standards. I wanted to implement these standards for www.masterelectricians.com.au
the benefit of my employees and ultimately my customers,” he said. “With its strong emphasis on quality and trustworthiness, the Master Electricians principles are in very strong demand from householders and business owners.” Minh believes customer relations and continual knowledge growth are important aspects of running a successful business. “My advice for other contractors is to keep up-to-date with current regulations and continue to build on your existing skills.” “Working towards Master Electricians accreditation and being active in your local community is invaluable in improving your image.” As a devoted safety supporter, Minh brings this value to all areas of his professional life and his local community. In the coming months, Minh is determined to improve the safety of homes in his local area by providing volunteer electrical services to fix unsafe installations. Another of Minh’s goals is in line with the Switch Thinking campaign to install safety switches in every Australian home to reduce electrical injuries. But his ambition doesn’t end there. “This is a standard I hope to bring to other countries such as Southeast Asia.” Earlier this year, Minh attended the Master Electricians Australia/ECA Annual Conference in Vietnam and enjoyed sharing similar experiences with fellow contractors. “It was great meeting delegates from across Australia. We discussed a wide range of issues including current regulations in all states. It was a totally positive outcome for all who attended.” Minh was particularly moved by meeting the Australian Consul-General to Vietnam, Mr Graeme Swift, who presented the keynote address on the final night of the conference.
Minh Phan at the 2010 ECA/MEA Annual Conference in Vietnam
Name: Minh Phan Company: Log-On Electrical State: New South Wales Status: Accredited
Powerline electrocutes family of three A downed power line electrocuted a man outside his Southern California home, then killed his wife and son as the two each attempted rescue in the family’s backyard, authorities said. San Bernardino firefighters arrived to find three bodies in contact with an arcing 12,000-volt electrical line in the backyard. http://breakingnewsdir.com
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generalnews Top ten ways to kick start 2011
Success is not an accident, it begins with a well-conceived plan. You can, and will, achieve more this year than you have in the past with a disciplined plan of action. By investing your efforts, you give yourself a launch pad for starting your new year and your new life on a high.
1. Fit in Fitness
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The evidence is in for fitness. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better. So make 2011 the year to jump start your exercise regime even if itâ€™s for just 30Â minutes a day.
2. Learn something new What you choose to learn may be directly related to your business growth or simply just a personal interest. Learning something new will add to your skills and add a new dimension of interest to your life. Undertaking training can not only provide an opportunity to put more money in your pocket, but it has also proven to have a range of health benefits including a heightened increase in memory.
3. Give something back to your community There are all kinds of worthy organisations that make a difference in your community every day. Make a New Year’s resolution to find a cause that matters to you, and give what you can back to your community. Make this the year that you serve on a committee, be a mentor, volunteer, or make regular donations to the groups in your community that try to make the place you live a better place.
4. Learn how to delegate and do more of it There are so many things to do when you’re running a small business, and like many small business owners, we delude ourselves into thinking we need to do all of them to get them done ‘right’. Then we (and our wives and partners) wonder why we’re so tired and have no time to do anything else. Determine your personal return on investment, and decide to let someone else do some of the tasks for a change. Delegation
is the key to a healthy work-life balance.
5. Know your top 10 customers What more can you do for them? Where can you find more just like them? List your top ten customers by sales volume and let everyone in your organisation know who they are. Are they in a particular geographic region, of a particular type – what is similar about them? Do everything you can to build on those relationships and retain their business. Remember, studies have shown it takes seven times the effort to find one new client then it does to retain one – you do the math.
6. Put time for you on your calendar Schedule time for you. It is vitally important to take the time to recharge and refresh yourself for your own peace of mind. All work and no play is a recipe for mental and physical disaster. So if you have trouble freeing up time to do the things you enjoy, write time regularly into your schedule to “meet with yourself” and stick to that commitment. We can so easily lose contact with each other, or mistake a smattering of conversation over a hurried meal for spending time together. Build in some family time – a games night, or an activity the whole family can enjoy together. Plan for some time with good friends - pick a movie or group activities that will challenge as well as entertain. If you won’t invest in yourself, who will? the master electrician
the new Watt Hour Meter Slim, efficient, accurate with easy installation! 7. Promote your business regularly and consistently Too often the task of promoting a small business slips to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list in place of urgent tasks. If you want to attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Make a New Year’s resolution to hire a marketing expert, or take the time to create a marketing plan on your own and follow through. There are plenty of low-cost ways to increase your profit - work smarter, not harder.
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“Schedule time for you, it is vitally important to take the time to recharge and refresh yourself for your own peace of mind. All work and no play is a recipe for mental and physical disaster.”
8. Make business planning a weekly event Planning is vital if you want a healthy, growing business. Business planning lets you take stock of what worked and what didn’t work, and helps you set new directions or adjust old goals. So why do it just once a year or once a quarter? Set aside time each week to review, adjust, and look forward - or even better, make business planning a part of each day. Not only will this help you avoid costly mistakes and stay on track, but you’ll feel more focused and relaxed.
9. Don’t make do – get a new one Is there a piece of equipment in your office that’s interfering with your success? Or something that you lack that’s making your working life harder? Whether it’s an old fax machine that’s a pain to use, or the need for a new employee to lighten your work load, make a New Year’s resolution to stop putting off getting what you need. The irritation of ‘making do’ just isn’t worth it.
10. Get out of debt/take control of spending Having your finances under better control, getting a handle on impulse buying, and paying off your debts fit under the “getting your finances in order” umbrella. This can be challenging, especially if you have allowed things to just roll along organically with little planning. Contacting a financial planner can be the first positive step towards keeping this resolution on track and taking control of spending.
Young boy dies after contacting bus A young northeast Missouri boy is dead after being electrocuted. Apparently the victim was in an area where people had been working on refurbishing a bus. Workers thought they had shut off a breaker box connected to the bus, but that apparently wasn’t the case. The boy reportedly touched the bus, and a major charge of electricity shot through his body. www.kmemfm.com
generalnews Regulations to enhance the RET now in place The Federal Government has amended regulations to implement changes announced on 1 December 2010 to the Solar Credits support initiative. The regulations establish an inspection regime for solar panels and enable the division of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme into large-scale and small-scale components. Since 1 January 2011, the RET now separately supports the deployment of large scale renewable electricity generation, such as wind farms and commercial solar and geothermal power stations, and small scale renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and solar water heaters. Importantly, the regulations also establish a new inspection regime for statistically significant numbers of RET solar system installations to be checked each year. The enforcement of electrical safety is the responsibility of state and territory governments. Solar PV systems are also subject to important safeguards under the RET, including ensuring they are installed in compliance with relevant standards. The Regulator now has wider enforcement powers, including strengthened financial penalties, if RET support is inappropriately claimed. Inspection results will be shared with state and territory electrical safety authorities to
better enable them to address issues of noncompliance and target their own inspection and enforcement regimes. The Regulator will also have the power to suspend the ability of installers to create certificates for systems they install if inspection results show three instances of non-compliance. The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, said the new regulations reflected extensive consultation which had been undertaken since the passage of legislation in June 2010 to separate the RET scheme into the large scale and small scale components. Broadly, the regulations finalise practical arrangements for operation of the small scale renewable energy scheme (SRES), including aspects of the voluntary clearing house which will be established by the Regulator to facilitate the transfer of certificates from small scale renewable energy systems at $40. As foreshadowed in the Minister’s announcement on 1 December 2010, the
regulations also: • Amend the Solar Credits mechanism for small generation units to begin the phase out one year earlier than originally planned, commencing from 1 July 2011, and include provisions to monitor out of pocket costs of installations • Establish the 2011 rates of compliance for liable entities to source renewable energy certificates from large scale electricity generation and small scale renewable energy technologies. • The small scale technology percentage (STP) under the SRES is 14.8 per cent • The renewable power percentage (RPP) under the Large scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) is 5.62 per cent. The Regulator, who is responsible for the administration of the RET scheme, is finalising preparations for the commencement of the LRET and SRES early this year.
New ProTag Optima System Australia’s Most Compact Appliance Testing and Tag Printing System. The new ProTag Optima System tests portable appliances and RCDs, and prints test tags in a compact system weighing only around 2kg. No interface cables between the tester, printer and scanner provide maximum mobility on construction sites, factories and workshops. Light weight, wireless, battery powered and with logging of visual inspections and risk assessments, the Optima System guarantees greater efficiency, huge time savings and a lower cost per tag. Call EMONA Instruments on tel: 1 800 632 953 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.protag.com.au the master electrician
news from thedistributors upfront WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Western Power New $23 million substations to improve power reliability in Perth
QUEENSLAND: Energex Solar PV uptake in SEQ The current rate of installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) generators in the residential sector of South-East Queensland (SEQ) continues to set new records, with almost 3,500 new systems being connected in October 2010 alone. Supported by both the Federal Renewable Energy Target Credits and the Queensland Government Solar Bonus Scheme feed-in tariff, ENERGEX is seeing installation rates and new capacity coming on line at almost double the rate from last year. With over 40,200 residential solar PV systems installed in SEQ at the end of November, solar PV has become our largest small customer connection activity. Activity continues to accelerate, and more systems were installed and more energy exported in the six months leading up to Christmas than for the whole of the 09/10 year. With residential solar generator capacity now over 80,000 KW in SEQ alone, the average share of the generated energy exported to the grid has risen slightly to 28 per cent - that is on average 28 per cent of energy generated by a PV system is exported to the grid, and therefore 72 per cent consumed within the household. This represents a retail saving of around $1.3M to customers in reductions in energy consumed. Recently, ENERGEX hosted a two-day workshop to focus on the issues associated with the residential solar PV phenomenon. The forum highlighted a number of key issues that are prevalent across the electricity distribution industry, including: 1. Household and network electrical safety: Issues discussed ranged from the ability to isolate supply to carry out shock complaints through to the impact of phase unbalance on poor household earths. Much of the responsibility is placed on observance of the relevant Australian Standards, however, an increased role on safety regulation was raised. 2. Network Voltage Control: With the focus on small solar PV generation at the residential level, a fundamental challenge faces electricity distributors. With the feed-in of generated energy into the network occurring generally in the middle of the day when household load is lowest, the challenge for distributors is to maintain the distribution voltage within statutory limits at all times. 3. Feed-in tariffs for embedded customers: ENERGEX is receiving a number of calls from customers on embedded systems; that is within retirement villages, gated communities and multiple-occupancies where the primary energy meter is at the main connection point for the overall premises, and the bill is received then managed by the body corporate. In these cases, the Solar Bonus Scheme applies to the primary customer, who may not be eligible for the benefit if the overall consumption for the site is greater that 100 MWh per annum. In all cases, the two most important actions to ensure a smooth approval for an embedded solar PV generator are to firstly, get the application form (F1003) in early to get the approval to connect done before the system design is complete. Secondly, if in doubt, call us on the Solar PV installer line 1300 366 846 or email email@example.com
Western Power has energised two new $23 million substations at Joondalup and Wangara which will improve power reliability to Perth’s northern suburbs. Western Power Transmission Group Manager, Mehdi Toufan, said the work had been undertaken to ensure electricity supplies would sustain future demand and to maintain a reliable power supply. “Western Power’s long term forecasting recognised that the existing nearby substations would be nearing power capacity by 2011 due to the continuing growth in the area. “The establishment of the Joondalup and Wangara substations will cater for the residential, commercial and industrial developments which are continuing to expand in the area, particularly the shopping centre developments,” Mr Toufan said. “Western Power worked closely with the local councils to find the best way to make the substations visually pleasing. “Public artwork on the Joondalup substation was chosen to match that used on the adjacent Mitchell Freeway, providing a consistent theme in the area. “The new Wangara substation is due to have extensive landscaping undertaken.” Western Power consulted with the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to ensure that any native vegetation cleared to make way for the Joondalup substation was offset by the re-vegetation of nearby land on the corner of Wanneroo Road and Joondalup Drive. Western Power will continue to monitor the site and ensure the re-vegetation program and seed germination program are successful. The Wangara substation has been fitted with a 132 /22kv transformer and has room to house another two transformers to meet further expected growth in demand for power.
NSW: Energy Australia EnergyAustralia’s smart grid to use LTE EnergyAustralia will become the first utility to use Long Term Evolution (LTE) for its 4G communications network after signing an agreement with Ericsson as part of the energy company’s smart grid rollout. EnergyAustralia Managing Director George Maltabarow said a 4G machine-tomachine communications network using WiMAX and LTE standards was being built across about 150 sites in Sydney, Central Coast and the Hunter. “A smart grid needs a communications platform to bring real-time data back from our substations, field devices and smart meters so we can turn it into useful information for field staff, engineers and households,” he said. “The communications network is essential to transforming the electricity network into a two-way grid that is smarter, greener, more
reliable and more interactive for households. “The 4G network will transmit data between 12,000 smart monitoring devices, up to 3,000 mobile field computers and 200 major zone substations. “We are now rolling out a WiMAX communications network and will begin trials of an LTE platform at 15 sites next year, with the plan to move to a full LTE network. “By using the same LTE technology as mobile carriers, we will benefit from economies of scale for chip, device and equipment pricing as 3G networks around the world migrate to LTE. “One of the major benefits for choosing this 4G/LTE platform is its approach to cyber-security – a key consideration in selecting technology for the electricity industry.” Under the agreement, Ericsson as prime integrator will provide equipment, software and services to operate the network at 150
sites, including the WiMAX solution from Airspan Networks. “Smart grids make the electricity network more efficient, allow more renewable energy to be connected and give households greater control over their bills and environmental impact,” Mr Maltabarow said. A smart grid allows the electricity network to self-heal when some faults occur, prevents faults by allowing more effective maintenance and paints an instant picture of electricity use in every street for better planning. EnergyAustralia was recently chosen by the Australian Government to lead the Smart Grid, Smart City demonstration project to test Australia’s first fully integrated, commercial-scale smart grid. EnergyAustralia’s 4G network will cover the five locations that are part of the Smart Grid, Smart City project – Newcastle, Scone, Ku-ring-gai, Newington and Sydney CBD.
the master electrician
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: ETSA Utilities
NORTHERN TERRITORY: Power and Water
Big reward offered to catch copper thieves
Desert water re-use project receives engineering award
ETSA Utilities is offering a $10,000 reward to help catch copper thieves who have broken into six substations in the northern suburbs, risking their lives and seriously compromising electricity network protection and the safety of the community. A reward of $10,000 is offered for information leading to apprehension and conviction of those responsible for copper theft from ETSA Utilities electricity infrastructure. Substations at Para, Parafield Gardens West and Kilburn, where ETSA Utilities and ElectraNet (transmission provider) have shared facilities have been broken into, along with ETSA Utilities substations at Salisbury, Parafield Gardens and Virginia. “The reality is they probably get away with about $500 to $1,000 worth of copper and it simply is not worth the risk,” said Paul Roberts, ETSA Utilities spokesman. “Just stepping into a substation site is a risk, as you do not have to touch equipment to be electrocuted.” Under the Electricity Act, thieves face up to two year’s jail or a $10,000 fine for breaking in to a substation and interfering with electricity infrastructure. “We encourage anyone with information on copper theft to contact police by contacting BankSA CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000,” Mr Roberts said. “We also would like to encourage local residents who live around substations to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. These are community facilities providing an essential community service and we would appreciate the community’s help in protecting them, as it seems there are some people who, despite all the security measures we have in place and the very real risk of death, will not be deterred. “These people not only are risking their own lives and those of our crews who have to repair damage, but can cause serious disruption for business and residential electricity users.” ETSA Utilities has a range of strategies in place to try to deter copper theft including high-security Fencing, electrified fencing at some sites, video surveillance, and security patrols and uses data dot technology to help trace stolen copper.
The Alice Springs Water Reclamation Plant received top honours of Environmental Engineering Excellence in the 2010 Australian Engineering Excellence Awards at a ceremony at Parliament House in Canberra. The Water Reclamation Plant, a joint project between the Power and Water Corporation, the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport and the CSIRO, opened in May 2008 and has the capacity to recycle up to 600 mega litres of water a year. These Awards acknowledge the professionalism and pursuit of excellence by engineers throughout Australia by identifying and promoting engineering excellence. The Alice Springs Water Reclamation Plant uses dissolved air flotation to treat the water for the Water Reuse in the Alice Project. The plant is capable of clarifying and disinfecting effluent drawn from the Alice Springs wastewater stabilisation ponds at a flow rate of three to six million litres per day.
TASMANIA Aurora Energy
Aurora’s safety sensor in national push A campaign to take the Tasmanian invention known as ‘CablePI’ national is under way and indications are that it is gathering steam. A number of electricity distribution companies are already funding their own trials of the electrical safety sensor, known interstate as WireAlert. In more promising news, the Australian Energy Regulator recently approved funding for a trial of the WireAlert sensor in parts of Victoria, taking it one step closer to being included in the regulated asset base of energy companies. Aurora Energy CEO, Dr Peter Davis, said he would personally present the benefits of the safety sensor as a permanent solution to his mainland peers along with Network General Manager, André Botha, and the CEO of wholly-owned Aurora subsidiary Ezikey, Greg Mannion. “The safety of Tasmanians has been www.masterelectricians.com.au
bolstered since the deployment of the sensors, which are known here as CablePI, last year,’’ Dr Davis said. “The Tasmanian rollout has also demonstrated the benefits for our business, as we can be much more efficient and targeted in our asset-replacement program. “I’m confident that other electricity distribution companies will follow our lead and take advantage of WireAlert to enhance public safety. “Aurora has produced a new booklet outlining to Aurora’s peers the need for the sensor, its range of benefits and some endorsements from our customers.’’ Mr Botha, who joined Aurora earlier this year after 25 years in the industry in South Africa and New Zealand, described
WireAlert as a breakthrough. “Twelve months after the completion of the rollout in Tasmania, we can declare it a success, with more than 2000 faults discovered in customers’ homes and in our own network, and the incidence of serious faults falling significantly,’’ Mr Botha said. “It is the only 24-hour monitoring solution currently available to help reduce the risk of electric shock caused by dangerous neutral path problems, electrical fires due to hot connections and damage to equipment due to voltage fluctuations.’’ “We want to share the success with our industry peers interstate and beyond and all Tasmanians should take pride in the fact that this breakthrough was invented and proven here.’’
VICTORIA: SP AUSNET SP AusNet launches community awareness campaign in preparation for summer Local electricity provider SP AusNet has launched a new community advertising campaign aimed at raising customers’ awareness of their obligations for private overhead electric lines on their properties. Screening on a range of regional television, press and radio outlets, the campaign features SP AusNet employees outlining the measures the company has undertaken to prepare for the bushfire season while encouraging residents to keep private overhead electric lines clear of vegetation. SP AusNet spokesperson Joe Adamo said despite the large amounts of rainfall, it has never been more important to ensure residents keep private overhead electric lines clear of any overgrown trees and vegetation. “It is essential for residents to keep private overhead electric lines clear of trees and vegetation that are deemed too close to powerlines and have an appropriately qualified contractor prune vegetation where necessary. “Many residents don’t realise they are obliged to monitor and maintain the electricity lines that run from powerpoles to their homes as well as private overhead electric lines on properties that may, for instance, link up a shed to the home,” Mr Adamo said. Aside from placing a strong emphasis on
resident responsibility, the advertisements highlight the rigorous bushfire mitigation work that SP AusNet has been doing in preparation for the bushfire season. “At SP AusNet, we continue to invest in our networks with broad and rigorous maintenance programs to ensure a safe a reliable electricity supply to our customers. “This year alone, we will have inspected 100,000 powerpoles, using a combination of our state-of-the-art helicopter for aerial inspections in addition to our ground-based analysis. We have cleared and pruned more than 115,000 trees that may have posed a
risk to the operation of the powerlines and invested more than $46 million to make our network safer and even more reliable,” he said. “We are responsible for undertaking an extensive bushfire mitigation program each year and we hope these advertisements will also enable landowners to be as prepared as they can be for the summer bushfire season,” Mr Adamo said. The advertisements will screen in parts of regional Victoria until February 2011 and can also be viewed on SP AusNet’s website: http://www.spausnet.com.au
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regulatorwrap-up the latest state news from regulators
Fair Trading Green energy installations Many people in NSW may consider installing renewable energy systems in their homes or businesses. These renewable energy systems are either grid connected or ‘stand-alone’ power units, and are powered by various sources of energy, including solar photovoltaic (PV) systems panels), hydro and wind turbine systems. NSW Fair Trading reminds consumers that there are a number of things that should be considered before having any renewable energy system installed. The following information may assist consumers with these decisions.
Choosing an installer The fixing of solar panels to a roof must be performed by a builder or electrical contractor licensed by NSW Fair Trading. The installation must be wired by a licensed electrical contractor. This means if you use a builder to do the installation, you will need to subcontract to an electrical contractor for the wiring. If you wish to claim any State or Federal Government rebates, check to ensure the installer is accredited by the Clean Energy Council of Australia. Failure to choose an accredited installer may disqualify you from a rebate scheme. Be aware whether the installer will be doing the work, or if he plans to give that work to subcontractors, and if so whether you are comfortable with this.
NSW Government solar bonus scheme
Before paying any money
Using compliant systems and components
Before paying any money for the supply and installation of green energy equipment, or allowing any work to commence, you must ensure that your installer gives you: • A written contract • A copy of the free Fair Trading publication Consumer Building Guide, which details important information you need to be aware of • A certificate of home warranty insurance if the total cost of labour and materials exceeds $12,000.
Installation of the equipment
Prior to signing the contract for the installation of renewable energy equipment relating to the NSW Government’s Solar Bonus Scheme, seek a quote from an Authorised Service Provider for any additional costs relating to the installation of electricity meters on your installation. An Authorised Service Provider (ASP) is an electrical contractor authorised to work on parts of the electricity network, including metering. The ASP scheme is managed by Industry and Investment NSW and a list of ASP’s and their contact details is published on their website www.industry.nsw.gov.au
Any system installed in, on, or around your premises, whether connected to the electricity grid or in a ‘stand-alone’ situation, must be compliant with Australian standards. Failure to install approved solar panels and inverters may disqualify you from a rebate scheme. The Clean Energy Council publishes a list of approved solar panels and inverters on their website at www. cleanenergycouncil.org.au
Ensure that your solar panels are installed facing north. Trees and other constructions must be considered by the installer when putting in your system to ensure that the system is both durable and efficient. Adverse weather conditions, such as strong winds, can affect solar panel and wind turbine installations. Check with your installer that the proposed system will be suitable for the weather conditions in your location.
Energy Safe ESV’s reminder on inspection of grid connected solar systems Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) has issued an important reminder for electricians engaging a Licensed Electrical Inspector (LEI) to inspect grid connected solar systems. Electricians must ensure that the inspector is willing and capable of accessing all parts of the installation, including the components on the roof. This may save electricians a lot of time and money in the long run if as part of a later external audit non compliances are identified that should have been found by the LEI. The Installation Safety Regulations Reg. 242 requires an LEI to attend at the electrical installation address stated on the certificate of compliance and carry out inspection of the electrical installation in accordance with the Australian/ New Zealand Wiring Rules and the regulations. Testing of the electrical installation must also be carried out in accordance with regulation 231. Also for solar systems, LEIs must inspect the wiring systems, switchgear, control gear and accessories installed to provide control and protection of the generation system. This includes the location, suitability and polarity of the rooftop disconnection device, the protection of exposed cabling, labelling, inverter location and wiring and all switches.
This may mean that the installer will need to coordinate with the LEI to make the access equipment that has been used to install the system safely available to them. Here’s some advice also for the LEI: If they are not willing to do this, or feel they are not fully conversant with the requirements of solar systems, they must not undertake inspection of solar systems. ESV is also investigating two serious electricity safety incidents – one of which resulted in a fatality – which occurred in mid November. ESV has appealed to all electricians to work carefully and follow safe work practices. As far as the incident resulting in the fatality is concerned, the 37 year-old victim was carrying out repairs on a main switchboard at an office complex in Melbourne’s Southbank when he received the shock. The victim passed two days later. The second serious incident involving an electrician occurred at Melbourne’s Olympic Park. ESV understands this incident involved an electrical contractor installing new unmetered mains from the main switchboard on the mezzanine floor to take off boxes on each of the six floors above. The work also included the removal of existing mineral insulated metallic sheathed cables.
Office of Energy About Energy2031 The Western Australian energy market is, as are energy markets around the world, undergoing significant transformation as we respond to key challenges of climate change, energy security and energy affordability. The State Government’s Strategic Energy Initiative, Energy2031, is working with industry and the community to develop an ambitious and practical plan to meet our energy needs over the next 20 years. Energy2031 will lead us into an era where more energy will come from a diverse mix of competitive, low carbon sources. Our homes, businesses and industries will be more energy efficient with the emergence of modern technology. This initiative has been developed by the State Government in recognition that substantial changes are needed to meet emerging issues. These include: • How best to meet growing demand for reliable energy • How to make energy as cost effective as possible • How best to minimise carbon pollution from energy we use.
Strategic goals Secure energy To ensure Western Australia’s energy supply is sufficient to meet demand over the longer term. Reliable energy To ensure that Western Australia’s energy supply is of a consistently high quality and delivered with minimal disruption. Competitive energy To ensure a transparent, stable, market-based regulatory environment to deliver competitive energy prices for consumers and an attractive environment for energy investors. Cleaner energy To ensure energy production and use is compatible with good environmental stewardship and minimises carbon emissions.
Public consultation The State Government encourages industry and all interested members of the public to participate in the consultation process. For more information visit www.energy.wa.gov.au
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SA available, then the responsibility of classification falls back onto the persons or parties in control of the installation as per AS/ NZS 3000:2007 clause 188.8.131.52 Responsibility for Classification.
A Burning Issue Electricians installing luminaires (including recessed luminaires) should be familiar with the requirements of AS/NZS 3000:2007 Wiring Rules clause 4.5.2 Lamps and luminaires and the installation instructions supplied by the manufacturer. Manufacturers of luminaires have designed and tested their fittings and are aware of the operating parameters of their products. Therefore it is important to install them according to their instructions.
Office of Consumer and Business Affairs Hazardous Areas Due to an increasing number of calls by electrical workers engaged to carry out alterations, additions, repairs or new installations to what may be considered a hazardous area, it is timely to reconsider the requirements of working in hazardous areas. Whilst electrical equipment selection and installation is covered in AS/NZS 2381.1 and AS/NZS 61241.14, the electrical worker must also have additional competencies to undertake this type of work. Guidance on additional competency requirements can be found in the applicable parts of the AS/ NZS 2381 and AS/NZS 61241 series. The wiring rules, Section 7.7 Hazardous Areas (Explosive Gas or Combustible Dusts) should be the starting point when assessing work in a hazardous or potentially hazardous area, and certainly www.masterelectricians.com.au
before selecting any cable, conduit or equipment. After reading the Scope (7.7.1), the next and probably most important clause is 7.7.2 Classification of Hazardous Areas. The first part, clause 184.108.40.206 Responsibility for Classification states that the responsibility for classification of a hazardous area rests with the person or parties in control of the installation. When the OTR is asked about work to be done in a hazardous area, the only advice we can offer is that the electrical worker must have the required additional competencies for the type of work to be undertaken and must consult the hazardous areas dossier for that electrical installation, which can be obtained from the persons or parties in control of the electrical installation. If there is no dossier for the installation
Some questions the OTR is commonly asked: Can a recessed luminaire be mounted on combustible materials (e.g.MDF, plywood etc)? Only the manufacturer of the luminaire can confirm this, if they don’t provide details in their instructions (and can’t provide further info in writing), then use a fitting where the manufacturer clearly states that the luminaire is suitable for recessing into combustible materials. Refer to clause 220.127.116.11 of the Wiring Rules. Are there any issues with installing recessed luminaires into a fully enclosed bulk head? Clause 18.104.22.168 of the Wiring Rules states that “Recessed luminaries and their auxiliary equipment shall be installed in such a manner that necessary cooling air movement through or around the luminaire is not impaired by thermal insulation or other material”. Issues can arise with luminaires/transformers overheating when natural air ventilation is significantly restricted and /or where ambient air temperatures are elevated. A
luminaire must be selected and installed to operate safely within the temperature parameters as specified by the manufacturer. How close can I mount a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) or LED recessed luminaire to combustible and thermal insulating materials? Clause 22.214.171.124 in the Wiring Rules provides default clearances for recessed incandescent and halogen luminaires. When the manufacturer does not specify clearances for other types of recessed luminaires such as CFL or LED then there are only two options: 1. Installation of the luminaire within a suitable fire-resistant enclosure (refer to clearances of enclosure). Note: Manufacturers of certain luminaires may not allow their luminaire to be covered by an enclosure. 2. Provision of the default clearance in figure 4.7. Note: Current table does not list CFL or LED luminaires, so worst case scenario of 200mm must be used. Electricians must not assume because a CFL or LED luminaire does not get as hot as a halogen or incandescent luminaire, that clearances from combustible and thermal insulating materials are not important. Do I have to put a fireresistant enclosure or barrier on a CFL or LED recessed luminaire to protect against extraneous combustible materials (e.g. leaves or vermin debris) collecting on or around the luminaire? If the electrical installation has extraneous combustible material or vermin already present in the roof space, or it appears there is a likelihood of it occurring, then a suitable fireresistant enclosure or equivalent protective measure (barrier/ guard) must be installed.
Electrical Safety Office 2009 – 2010 Electrical Safety Office audits Electrical Safety Office inspectors conducted more than 20 audit projects across a range of industries as part of the 2009-10 statewide compliance audit program. Although ESO audits have an important compliance role, they are also a valuable opportunity for inspectors to educate employers and workers of their electrical safety obligations. For the electrical contracting industry audit projects, opportunities to improve were noted in three areas: • Ensuring employees are aware of their safe system of work for live work and the requirements for live work • Ensuring employees are aware of working safely around electrical parts and safe systems of work • Ensuring trainees, including apprentices, are supervised at all times by an electrical worker licensed to perform the work. Within the first six months, all people in training are not allowed in the immediate vicinity of a live high voltage exposed part, or where there is a risk they could come into contact with a live low voltage exposed part. Visit www.electricalsafety.qld.gov.au for a copy of the ESO’s
Electrical Contractor Self-assessment Audit Package, the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 - Working Near Exposed Live Parts and the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 - Risk Management. All of these resources are useful tools for continuous electrical safety improvement.
Disciplinary action recently taken against an electrical worker The Electrical Licensing Committee has suspended the electrical mechanic work licence of a Townsville-based electrical worker. The worker continued to advertise and contract for electrical work even though his electrical contractor licence was revoked in 2008. As a result, his electrical mechanic work licence was suspended for a minimum of three months and will not be reinstated until he completes training on ‘verifying compliance and functionality of general electrical installations’. The worker is still required to complete the electrical contractor’s course, and when completed, the Electrical Licensing Committee will consider his electrical contractor licence. the master electrician
letter of thelaw Legal action can pay For many contractors the thought of taking legal action may be somewhat daunting. However, when represented by specialists, the chance to reclaim your unpaid dues may be a realistic and rewarding venture.
MEA’s strategic partner, McKay’s Solicitors, demonstrates in four recent cases how the electrical contractor came out on top.
Win No. 1 One of our electrical contracting clients has in recent times had two wins using the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act. On the first occasion they had not been paid approximately $35,000. The builder was refusing payment on the basis that our client owed it liquidated damages. Following a close analysis of the provisions of the contract, and the conduct of the builder, we demonstrated to the adjudicator that there was no basis for the claim for liquidated damages and the client was able to recover the whole of their claim, all paid within ten business days.
Win No. 2 The same client recently pursued another claim under the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act. This time they were trying to get back their retention monies. The total possible claim was some $100,000, but only half of that was realistic. By a detailed examination of the contractual provisions and by demonstrating how the principal had acted inconsistently with the contract, we were able to prove to the adjudicator that the contractor was entitled to a full $50,000. They were successful in recovering that sum, again, all paid within ten business days.
Win No. 3 In another adjudication application, our client claimed some $143,000. There were two adjudication applications. The first one was found to be invalid, based on a very technical legal argument by the builder about problems with the payment claim. The contractor then included the work covered www.masterelectricians.com.au
by the first payment claim in a new payment claim and brought a second adjudication application. This time he was successful. Be warned however, that now, given a series of new cases, you are now likely to have difficulty running a second adjudication, based on the same facts.
Win No. 4 The final case is on a slightly different area of law but one which is still of great importance to contractors, given that they regularly provide personal guarantees to suppliers. We recently acted for some clients who were sued on directors’ guarantees for some $279,000. The clients thought the case was hopeless and, at first glance, it certainly looked like that. However, a careful legal examination of all of the documents revealed there was something amiss. In fact, we were able to prove that the signatures on the guarantees were mere photocopies, which had been submitted without authority by an employee of the company. A Defence was filed on that basis. We were then able to convince the supplier’s lawyers that they would have real problems in enforcing the guarantees, with the natural result being that the supplier was likely to lose and end up paying the court costs of the guarantors. The supplier withdrew the whole of their claim. So the moral of this story is that while a visit to your lawyer can quite often rank up there with a visit to your dentist, you can come out of your lawyer’s office not only feeling no pain, but considerably better off! For further information or assistance with any payment issue, guarantee or other legal matter, contact Michael Cope or Doug Skelton on 07 3223 5939 or 07 3223 5920 of our Brisbane office or Danielle Sanderson at dsanderson@ mckayslaw.com or telephone 07 4963 1431 of our Mackay office.
Indian Man Immune to Electrocution Rajmohan Nair, an Indian man is literally immune to electrocution. Dubbed the ‘Electro Man’ on the History Channel’s premier reality series, “Stan Lee’s Superhumans,” . Rajmohan is a rarity, as most humans cannot safely conduct such high levels of electricity. If you were to do this at home, you would most likely die. In fact, according to host Daniel Smith, Rajmohan is approximately 10-times more resistant to electricity than the average human. www.weirdasianews.com
Minister for Emergency Services Neil Roberts played a critical role in managing emergency services throughout the devastating Queensland floods. The Master Electrician talks to Neil about life, travel and politics.
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You’ve been a member of the Queensland parliament since 1995 – a period of enormous change for the state – what has been the most significant challenge of your political career so far? Overseeing the 2007 Queensland Ambulance Service Audit was a significant challenge, which I believe achieved very positive outcomes for Queenslanders. The Government implemented 40 recommendations from the audit, resulting in significant structural change to the Service. A refocus of resources to frontline services has delivered the fastest ambulance response times in the country, from the best ambulance service in the country. I am also enjoying the challenges and demands of my additional responsibilities for police and corrective services.
“My ministerial and electorate responsibilities keep me very busy, but it’s important to have balance. I make sure I spend as much time as I can with my wife and family. ”
As Minister for Emergency Services since 2007, you hold one of the busiest portfolios in government, how do you balance your workload with your family life? It’s all about managing your time effectively. My ministerial and electorate responsibilities keep me very busy, but it’s important to have balance. I make sure I
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spend as much time as I can with my wife and family.
As a young electrical apprentice in the 70s at the Banyo Railway workshop, did you always have an idea you might enter politics one day? When I started out as an apprentice, to be honest I had no interest in politics at all. I think my social conscience developed over time, towards the late 70s/early 80s. My experiences travelling overseas to New Zealand, Europe and the UK definitely opened my eyes and gave me a desire to become more involved in the community.
What led you to take up an electrical apprenticeship? My father was a tool maker who operated a major workshop and garage in Charleville. From a very young age, I had an interest in hands-on work and a desire to know how things worked.
“I don’t think politics is something you recommend to someone. It is something you have to choose yourself.”
As a fitter and mechanic in the railway industry during that period of transition to electric trains, what do you recall as some of the interesting challenges? The electrification project was a major milestone and a change in direction for Queensland Rail. It heralded the start of a more sophisticated signalling and communications system, which I had the opportunity to work on. It was an interesting time, having to adjust from the largely electro-mechanical devices to an increasingly computerised system.
In your early twenties, you travelled widely overseas – what are some of your best memories of that time? Travelling throughout New Zealand, Europe and the UK was a great experience. I started my trip hitchhiking on the outskirts of Christchurch and worked various jobs on horse studs, hotels and restaurants across the South Island before I travelled on to the UK. I enjoyed taking a tour through Europe after first settling in London where I worked in an English pub.
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Is politics a job you would recommend to your own children?
I would be supportive of anything my children wanted to pursue. I don’t think politics is something you recommend to someone. It is something you have to choose yourself.
Call Michael Cope today on (07) 3223 5939 or Ian Heathwood on (07) 3223 5942 or 0418 199 416
Do you have any tips for fellow sparkies who might like to get into politics? To any sparkies interested in politics, I say – put the tool belt down on weeknights and weekends, join a political party and get involved in your community.
Do you still do your own electrical work at home? If so, what was your latest project? I allowed my licence to lapse a few years ago, which felt like I was losing a big part of myself after having it for so long. These days, most of my electrical projects at home are undertaken by a friend who is a licensed electrical contractor.
As one of the most prominent members of the Queensland cabinet, there’s one last question we have to ask: will we see a Premier Neil Roberts one day? No. It is an incredible privilege to hold the positions I currently have and my entire focus is on doing the best job I can in my current role.
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Mackay McKays Law Centre 34 Wood St 4963 0888
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gadgetguide Keeping you in the know
Nikon Coolpix S1100pj
Sonos S5 ZonePlayer
Targus portable laptop charger
A camera and projector in one! The Coolpix S1100pj is Nikon’s second camera to be equipped with a custom pico projector built into the compact. What a great way to share your happy snaps straight from your camera. It’s been a year since the first model – the S1000pj – made its way to retail shelves and now a new model is here with new features and a new price tag. Most of the expected upgrades aren’t a big deal, with resolution jumping to 14 megapixels, but the video now captures at 720p HD and the rear controls are now handled mostly through the big three inch touchscreen. The projector has also taken a boost with a 40 per cent brighter projected image for those photos and videos shot when using the S1100pj.
A multi-room digital music streaming device, the Sonos S5 ZonePlayer retrieves music from your household broadband network and plays it out over as many speakers as you choose to connect. Once the main speaker unit is wired to your network via Ethernet, and the desktop controller software is installed on your PC, the Sonos finds your digital music wherever you might have put it. This clever device will also stream internet radio and music services like Audible, Last.fm and Rhapsody. You can download a controller app for your iPad, iPhone or iTouch for free, which makes it feel almost miraculous, as you sit out on the deck with your Apple device, airily waving it around and changing the music playing all over your house. A great way to impress your guests.
No matter where you are headed, ensure your gadget never runs out of power with Targus’ new Mobile Laptop Charger. Designed to work in cars, boats and airplanes, the light and compact charger can power two devices simultaneously – whether it’s an iPad, laptop, mobile phone or camera. The Mobile Laptop Charger is compact and weighs just 130 grams, giving you the freedom to travel light. The charger comes pre-packaged with nine laptop tips, one iPad/iPhone/iPod tip and a mini-USB tip, which together support over 95 percent of laptops on the market and numerous other electronic devices. The ‘Tips from Targus’ program also ensures that customers can order extra tips at no extra cost, meaning the charger is compatible with most mobile phones and can even accommodate future hardware changes.
RRP: $499 www.nikon.com.au
RRP: $699 www.sonos.com
RRP: $99.95 www.targus.com.au
technobiz Master Electricians are giving you the good-oil on the best stuff!
WireAlert WireAlert is a pioneering safety sensor that was specifically designed to detect wiring problems on the low voltage distribution network caused by high loop impedance. The device continuously monitors for changes in the circuit impedance from the GPO it’s plugged into back to the distribution transformer out on the road. An alarm is triggered when a high impedance condition such as a loose or hot connection, or a broken neutral is detected. WireAlert was distributed free of charge to every home and small business in Tasmania in 2009, by the local electricity distributor Aurora Energy, and has since detected thousands of potentially dangerous wiring faults on the distribution network and in homes. Discussions are currently underway with mainland electricity distributors to follow the lead of Aurora Energy in improving the safety profile of their distribution network and helping their customers to keep safe. www.wirealert.com
Braided Industrial Extension leads Clipsal remain as the innovative industry leaders, with the introduction of braided industrial extension leads. The braided shield is Earthed for extra protection, so your safety is never compromised. If you need performance in power with superior protection, insist on Clipsal’s new 800 Series braided leads. Clipsal’s new braided industrial extension leads provide you with the additional protection against electric shock, especially in work environments where your power leads are exposed to being damaged or cut. The clever design of the Earthed braid will instantly activate RCD protection if the lead is cut, preventing exposure to dangerous Active wiring. In addition, Clipsal braided industrial extension leads have multiple features and benefits; OH&S compliant Earthed braid, extra soft flex to avoid tangles, 56 Series plug and socket ends with an IP56 rating option available and multiple length options. Clipsal’s 800 Series braided industrial leads provide superior safety and true performance in power!
Igloo downlight In Ceiling Technologies have designed the ideal Down Light Fire Protection Barrier. The Down Light Igloo is set to take the market by storm when Australian Standards unite the 3000/2007 wiring code and 60598 2.2 Luminaire installation standards. These standards will now include the new AS/NZS 5110/2011 (soon to be released). As all down lights will now require a certified barrier it is important to seek out the best possible product. The Down Light Igloo has addressed all of the most common installation drawbacks and added some extra features to ensure fast fitting and maximising safety by having passed the entire ridged testing procedures dished up by 5110. Now that both electricians and insulation installers will be using covers much more often it is of great importance to save time and keep the cost of covers to a minimum. It will cost under $10 for the Igloo and takes 40 seconds to install. www.downlightigloo.com.au
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Helping turn the tide At the height of Queenslandâ€™s flood crisis, the stateâ€™s government and electrical distributor turned to Master Electricians to help get the power back on again. the master electrician
The terrifying flood waters that swept through south-east Queensland in January were like nothing many people have experienced before, and their impact has been well recorded. For Master Electricians, the torrential rain produced a deluge of calls to our customer hotline – from desperate home owners whose premises had been swamped and needed to be inspected by a licensed electrical contractor before power could be switched on again. While the hotline had been running for several weeks, supporting flooded communities across regional Queensland, the flash flooding in Toowoomba and the devastating inundation of tens of thousands of homes in Ipswich and Brisbane were the trigger for a major expansion of the service. Master Electricians had already been prominent in the media over several weeks, warning communities about the need for caution around flooded electrical fittings and appliances, and outlining the procedure for having power supply restored safely. Media reporting also promoted the ME consumer hotline, which was designed to connect home owners with licensed contractors. Once the full extent of the Brisbane flooding became apparent, the distribution authority Energex asked Master Electricians to take a lead role in managing calls from the public. Says CEO Malcolm Richards: “Initially we had established the hotline to help home www.masterelectricians.com.au
owners get in touch with our members, in order to get the necessary safety checks so their power could be turned back on as quickly as possible. “In order to ensure we could help as many people as possible, we began promoting this hotline heavily through the media.
“It was heartening to see how both accredited Master Electricians and non-members were able to work together to get the job done.”
“Within days, however, we were asked by Energex to handle all customers who needed access to a contractor. “Energex and the State Government recognised that we had what they needed – an army of qualified workers who could help get the power back on, and the ability to connect those workers with the people who needed them. “We had an existing capability that could be scaled up at very short notice to handle the record level of calls for assistance.
“We also had extremely good support from the Electrical Trades Union as we worked to identify the fastest way to help all affected home owners. “Our dedicated office team staffed the hotline from early morning to late night, and across the weekend – directing consumer calls to the nearest available contractor.” The scale of the disaster, and the partnership with Energex, prompted Master Electricians to manage the active industry response. It also sparked a recommendation for a flat fee of just $200 for a home inspection and test. Through an extensive media campaign the Master Electricians hotline was quickly established as the first point of contact for home owners. At the same time, direct communications to members outlined the strategy being developed in conjunction with state authorities, and provided the latest technical advice in relation to dealing with flooded equipment. Within days, Master Electricians had assembled an army of 1150 licensed contractors in the Brisbane area working to inspect and test homes so the power could be reconnected, with a further 500 contractors from other areas on standby for overflow work.
49 ME “We are very proud of the fact that we were able to play the lead role in supporting home owners at a very difficult time, and to be the voice of electrical safety. “Media reports at the time suggested more people had been killed in the months after the devastating 1974 as a result of electrical accidents than had died in the floods themselves. “We wanted to ensure that people understood the need to have the proper checks done, and were able to access a licensed contractor quickly once they made that decision. “It was heartening to see how all industry members were able to work together to get the job done.” As the peak of the Brisbane flood approached, Master Electricians also identified another risk – one which had not been present during the infamous 1974 floods – the widespread use of solar power units on homes. Even though the power had been disconnected from flooded homes in almost all cases, there was a real risk of injury or death for people forced on to their rooftops to avoid the rising water. There was also a risk of electrocution from damaged appliances and electrical fittings once the waters receded, if rooftop solar units were pumping power into the domestic circuits. “Once again we decided to go to the media with urgent warnings for consumers, and once again we received extremely good media support. “Within days this was a theme that was picked up by electrical authorities and State Governments across Australia.” The pattern established for the Queensland floods was later repeated in other states as the waters moved south. With the support of local and national media, Master Electricians was able to provide safety tips ahead of flooding, and respond quickly with local contractors after the event.
Name: Kelly Watt Position title: Receptionist At a time when hundreds of anxious homeowners needed assistance, our Receptionist, Kelly Watt went above and beyond to provide advice, and in many cases counselling to people who had, or were at risk of losing so much. Kelly, along with other staff put in a significant effort through working public holidays, early mornings, late nights and weekends to make sure that homeowners had electrical safety tests organised so they could safely return to their homes. Kelly played a critical role in this crisis and demonstrated the true essence of compassion, sincerity and overall customer service.
What was the most satisfying part of your role throughout the flood disaster? I’m lucky enough to live in a street that wasn’t directly affected by flooding, but to see the damage and devastation to my friends and neighbours homes was really heartbreaking. The most satisfying part of my role was just having the ability to help these people, and knowing that my assistance made a difference to help to those genuinely affected by this disaster.
Tell us about your most interesting phone call... A consumer called to book an electrician to re-energise a licensed brothel.
The team from Power Integration and Kevin Rudd working hard to assist in the flood clean up effort.
What made you donate so much of your time to the crisis? For me, the worst part about the floods was the helpless feeling that there was nothing I could do or say that would make a difference. I knew we needed as many staff as possible available after hours to help log jobs and thought it was the least I could do.
The one thing you learnt from this experience? We had an overwhelming response from electricians across the country wanting to travel to QLD to donate their time and help to the flood victims, and Volunteers Australia had a similar influx of helpers wanting to register – so much so that they were turning people away! One thing I’ve learnt is that in the face of disaster, Australians band together and help each other like no nation I’ve ever seen, and I’m proud to live in such a compassionate and generous country. Tim Underwood from McQ Electrical and Malcolm Richards discussing the impact the water had on this homeowner’s switchboard. the master electrician
technicaltalk upfront DO YOU KNOW HOW A HEAT PUMP WORKS? Heat pumps use the reverse process of refrigeration process by transferring heat from the air to the water stored inside the hot water tank. The heated water is stored for use in an insulated storage tank just like a conventional hot water system.
Like a water pump moves water uphill, a heat pump moves heat to where it is needed in the hot water tank. The secret to making a heat pump work is the use of a refrigerant that evaporates at low temperatures. There are several steps in the process: 1. Liquid refrigerant passes through an evaporator where it picks up heat from the air and becomes a gas 2. The gas refrigerant is compressed in an electric compressor – compressing the gas causes its temperature to increase so that it becomes hotter than the water in the tank (superheated) 3. The hot gas flows into a condenser where it passes its heat to the water 4. The gas then flows into an expansion valve where its temperature drops and it returns to liquid form (sub cooled). As long as the temperature outside is higher than the cold refrigerant, the heat pump will absorb heat and be able to move it to the water, which is why heat pumps don’t work as well in places where temperatures are low. Fresh air needs to flow across the evaporator to enable heat to be absorbed continuously. A fan is used to assist air flow and remove the cooled air. A ventilated space is necessary for the evaporator to extract heat effectively. A heat pump uses electricity to drive the compressor and the fan instead of using electricity to heat the water directly. The heat pump can transfer heat energy from the surrounding air to the water which makes it highly efficient. How much heat is transferred depends on the ambient temperature. For example, when air temperature is 15°C and the desired water temperature is 60°C, the heat transferred into the water is typically around three times as much as the electrical energy used. On a 30°C day, the heat energy transferred to the water is over five times the energy used by the system.
Heat pumps use warm air to heat water for your home The compressor compresses the refrigerant gas and the gas becomes hot • This hot refrigerant gas then passes to the condenser. The condenser is a heat exchanger which enables your heating system to extract the heat energy from the refrigerant gas. As heat is absorbed from the gas it condenses back into a liquid still www.masterelectricians.com.au
at high pressure • Having given up a lot of its heat energy, the refrigerant then passes to the expansion valve which is basically a small hole. On one side of the hole is a high-pressure refrigerant liquid and on the other side is a low-pressure area. The low pressure side is because the compressor is sucking the refrigerant out of that side of the system • As the liquid refrigerant passes through the hole to the low pressure side it immediately boils and evaporates and its temperature drops rapidly to minus 33°C dependent on refrigerant used. This very cold gas is then channelled to another heat exchanger, the evaporator, which allows it to absorb heat from the outside air (Air Source Heat Pump – ASHP) or the ground (Ground Source Heat Pump – GSHP). As it absorbs heat, the gas warms up after which it is channelled back to the compressor. • The refrigerant gas is then sucked up by the compressor, and the cycle repeats. Please note that heat pumps may require an electric booster if operated in regions where it is cold. The electric boost turns on once the water temperature drops below a certain point.
Types of heat pump There are two main types of heat pumps: 1. Integrated systems, where the heat pump and hot water tank are in a single unit 2. Split systems, where the tank and the heat pump are separated. The most common configuration is for the condenser coils to be wrapped around the outside of the tank under the tank insulation to transfer heat to the water.
Integrated Systems In an integrated system, the evaporator and other components are fixed to the top of the hot water tank. The advantages of integrated systems are that they are compact and easy to transport. They are connected in exactly the same way as standard electric hot water tanks and can be installed by a qualified plumber. An integrated system must be placed outside the house, or in an indoor space with good air flow like a well ventilated garage.
“Like a water pump moves water uphill, a heat pump moves heat to where it is needed in the hot water tank. The secret to making a heat pump work is the use of a refrigerant that evaporates at low temperatures.”
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$7.99 RRP SPECIAL! Split Systems In a split system, the evaporator unit is placed away from the hot water tank, with the condenser coils still wrapped around the tank. A split system can offer flexibility that may be needed in some situations. For example, the tank can be placed in a poorly ventilated space (directly replacing an electric hot water tank in a cupboard, for example), and the smaller evaporator unit can be placed in the ventilated space. Or in hot climates, the evaporator can be placed in a ventilated ceiling space which will produce cooling as an added benefit.
The pipes for the refrigerant may need to be connected by a suitably licensed plumber depending on the manufacturer’s requirements. In a less common split configuration, the condenser is not part of the water tank, but separated with the other components of the heat pump to form a separate unit. Additional plumbing allows water from the tank to be pumped across the condenser and back. The tank can be placed in locations that would otherwise not be permitted, such as beneath a wooden floor. Additional energy will however be used for pumping.
Visit our website for more information Contact us for Wholesale pricing www.efficiencymatrix.com firstname.lastname@example.org T. 0434 195 792
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Is it right for your customer? Whether a heat pump is the best available choice for your customer depends on their particular circumstances. Where and how the hot water appliance is installed can have a significant affect on the running costs and life span of the system. The following issues are all important considerations when deciding if a heat pump is the right hot water heater for you.
What climate do you live in? Heat pumps work most efficiently in warm, humid climates. They are not suited to installation outdoors where regular freezing or very cold and dry conditions are experienced. Some heat pumps are manufactured to work more effectively during brief frost conditions but they will cost more to run in these conditions and are not recommended for use in prolonged cold periods. Note that some heat pumps may require an electric booster element if operated in regions where it is cold. The cost of running a heat pump may increase if it is required to boost during the day when electricity tariffs may be high. You should advise your customers to contact their energy retailer to find out what tariffs may apply.
be placed in a heated space because they cool the surrounding air and will have to work harder to keep the water warm. Is it replacing an older water heater and do you wish to use the existing plumbing for the new tank? For improved performance having a system installed closest to where the most hot water is used and keeping pipes as short as possible to minimise heat loss is an important consideration. Thinking about these questions can help your customers choose between an integrated system and a split system and will clarify how you should configure their heat pump.
When you speak with your customer remember to advise of the cost of installation As well as considering the purchase costs and running costs of a water heater, the other question you will be required to answer is what are the installation costs of the new appliance? You will also need to check with the energy supplier which electricity tariff the appliance will be connected to and, if your customer is being taken off an off-peak tariff, what the additional costs of being on a higher tariff will be.
Don’t forget noise can be an issue Heat pumps make a low humming sound, similar to a refrigerator or air conditioner. Noise levels can exceed 50 decibels (dB) at a distance of 1.5 metres, which is about the level of background noise in an average home. Properly located heat pumps are unlikely to cause noise problems, but some heat pump models could potentially breach noise regulations if located very close to a bedroom window or a neighbouring property.
“Consider your customer’s hot water needs. How does their household use water? Do they all shower at the same time of day (eg, in the morning)? Do they run a dishwasher connected to hot water?”
How much hot water do you need and what tank size will you require? Consider your customer’s hot water needs. How does their household use water? Do they all shower at the same time of day (eg, in the morning)? Do they run a dishwasher connected to hot water? This will help them to decide on how much hot water they need, and the size of the tank required. The exact size of the tank they need would vary according to the manufacturer. If the heat pump has a more powerful compressor, you could use a smaller tank. Tank sizes also depend on your climate. You can use a smaller heat pump and tank in a hot climate than in a cold climate. Commonly available tank sizes for heat pumps in mild climates are around 150L for two people, 250L for four people and 300L for six people.
Locating a hot water system Consider the locations your customers have for installing their heat pump. Will it be outside? Air-sourced heat pumps need plenty of fresh air and work best if placed outdoors. Heat pumps should not www.masterelectricians.com.au
Further information CHOICE publishes information on hot water options, manufacturers and government rebates. In particular see their Buying Guide: Hot Water Options and follow links to Solar Hot Water Systems which includes heat pumps. Contact your state or territory government or local council for local information on hot water systems including rebates for heat pumps. The Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER) publishes the number of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) that each model of heat pump and solar water heater can create in different climate zones. For specifications and installation details contact your local supplier or plumber. Contact your energy retailer for more information about electricity tariffs.
workplacerelations RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION: the foundation of employee success Recruitment and selection are vital elements to any successful business. If you do not implement effective recruitment and selection processes, you can’t be assured you are employing the right person in the right job. Having the wrong employee within your organisation can have significant cost implications and have a negative impact on your existing employees. The foundation of an effective recruitment and selection procedure is the documentation and templates which allow you to monitor and implement the system. Once you have established these documents, you will be on your way to hiring the right employee for your business.
So what do you need? Person specification: This document outlines the attributes that the prospective employee will need to posses such as certain education, training, skills, qualifications, knowledge, aptitudes, general personality and relevant experience. Make sure you have done a thorough needs analysis of the position to ensure you are clear about exactly what you need. Job description: A job description outlines the: • Duties to be performed • The employee’s responsibilities • The expected outcomes for the position, the relationship of the position with others within the organisation • The skills and attributes required for the position. The content of the job description will be a good starting point for drafting the job advertisement. Application form: The application form records the applicant’s personal details and can be included in the employees file if they are employed. It is a good form to use as a point of reference for emergency contacts etc. Employment contract: An employment contract outlines the terms and conditions of employment, including remuneration. This should be signed by the employee and employer before commencement of work, with each party holding a copy for their records.
Recruitment and selection policy: This outlines the standards to be adhered to by all staff who are involved in the recruitment of employees. It provides all internal staff involved with an understanding of what is expected of them during this process. The above documents will not only assist with effectively recruiting the right employees, but will allow for the personnel conducting the recruitment to assist in the efficiency, productivity and profitability of the workplace.
So what’s the next step? Determine staffing requirements Before you can advertise a position you will need to determine the type of employee you wish to engage. There are a number of categories to choose from including: • Casual • Full-time permanent • Part-time permanent • Apprenticeship • Fixed-term or specific project • Sub contractor • Labour hire Once you have established the type of employee you need, then the job classification needs to be determined. The job classification will need to be consistent with the job description and person specification. The relevant Award will outline the requirements to reach each classification and the minimum wage to which the new employee would be entitled to.
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QLD Company Improving
SWITCHBOARD DESIGN Aussie Switchboards are easing the frustrations of electricians throughout Queensland and NSW. Designed with the focus of saving onsite electrician’s time and money, Aussie have a wide range of LV electrical switchboards including builders site Temporary Power, Distribution Panel Boards, Meter Panels and larger main switchboards up to 6,000 Amp. Not only are Aussie’s boards ergonomic, they have been Type Tested in a laboratory to prove their electrical quality. All of Aussie’s Type Tests passed first time around. The laboratory staff passed comment saying it has been many years since a Switchboard Manufacturer passed all tests the first time. The company specialises in working with onsite electricians to save time and frustration. Galvanised steel is standard with a powder coat finish. The galvanising gives their enclosures another corrosion barrier. Aussie also fabricates stainless steel switchboards for marine environments. Their sheet metal is fabricated in house giving the advantage of customised enclosures with low turnaround time to assist the onsite electrician, where others take much longer supplying inconvenient and expensive standard sizes. Aussie Switchboards are looking for new customers in Queensland and NSW wanting better switchboards. Their professional Sales department can be contacted on (07) 5561 1417. Visit their NEW website www.AussieSwitchboards.com.au ADVERTISEMENT
Hazardous area and HigH Voltage installation audits 3 ESO Compliance Audits 3 Area Classifications 3 Risk Assessments 3 Pre-installation/design review
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Recruitment methods There are a couple of ways you can advertise your position to attract the applicants most suitable to your organisation. 1. You can undertake the process on your own: This can be beneficial as you have the advantage of controlling and monitoring the process yourself. However, if you do not have prior human resource experience or knowledge it may become overwhelming. 2. Enlist a recruitment agency: This process can have its advantages but can sometimes be expensive, make sure you consult an agency which is experienced in your particular sector.
Advertisement The advertisement is the key to ensuring you attract the right applicants to your business. It should be written clearly with the applicant in mind to ensure potential applicants understand your company and the role they will play. It should contain: • The job title and location • Job description • Brief description of the employer • Qualifications and experience required • Response requirements (where to send the application and cut off date) • The salary package (can be specific or general) When drafting your advertisement it is important not to include discriminatory terms such as making specific comments and statements on a person’s race, disability, colour, religion, age, gender, criminal record, marital status, parental status, sexual preference, industrial activity, pregnancy or family responsibilities.
INTERVIEWING The interview is one of the most important parts of the selection process. It is generally a good idea to have at least two employees present in the interview. Being prepared for an interview is vital. You need to decide what is important to your company, what are your nonnegotiables? What is important to you - attitude, skill, experience or personality? Make sure you draft your questions accordingly.
There are lots of great websites out there that will assist you to develop interviewing questions. With a well drafted position description, the right advertisement and the right interviewing questions, you are on your way to candidate success.
Recruitment process simplified: 1. Decide whether there is an operational need for a new position 2. Determine the nature of the new position ie, full time, part time or casual 3. Estimate the salary to be associated with the position 4. Create a job description and person specification to establish the duties and responsibility requirements of the position 5. Advertise the position in the newspaper and careers web sites ie, seek, my career or career one (or other advertising media that you choose eg, job boards, recruitment agency etc). 6. Sift through the applications and short list the most appropriate applicants 7. Contact the applicants on the short list and schedule times for interviews 8. Conduct the interviews through the most appropriate staff member of your organisation 9. After completing the interviews contact the most suitable applicant and offer the position and salary. There may be some negotiation between both parties as to what salary will be paid. It is important to assess what the threshold amount is and stick to it to ensure the company does not go over budget 10. Once the applicant has accepted the position all the unsuccessful applicants should be advised 11. A common law contract/letter of offer needs to be drafted and signed by both parties. A copy is to be given to the new employee and one kept in the employee file 12. The new employee will need to be inducted.
MASTER ELECTRICIANS THIRD PAGE VERTIC
are soon to release
Year in Review The Genuine Ford Parts Australian Formula Ford Championship has drawn to a close, a champion has been crowned, but unfortunately it was not Master Electricians/ simPRO Racing driver Andre Borell. After a promising start to the season that saw Master Electricians / simPRO Racing in 5th spot in the championship after two Rounds, the wheels fell off the championship assault and the cruel sport of motor racing dealt blow after blow to the team and driver. After just missing the podium at Queensland Raceway for round two, hopes were high for the rest of the season. Unfortunately a persistent tyre batch issue at Round 3 (Winton), and contact from a
competitor at Round 4 (Darwin) dented the championship chase. Round 5 (Townsville) was no improvement with the ‘green machine’ being involved in a huge rollover, luckily only as the launch pad, not the car that flipped. Visit www.youtube.com and search ‘Andre Borell Townsville’ to see the incident. By this time the championship chase was realistically over, after the string of disappointing results, and the remaining three rounds were a ‘non-contest’ for the series victory. Formula Ford is Australia’s leading ‘feeder category’ to V8 Supercars, and to have run regularly in the Top-5 in only their second year in the series is a testament to Master Electricans / simPRO Racing and Andre Borell. Master Electricians/simPRO Racing will again be on the grid for 2011. Stay tuned for more details.
the master electrician
all aboutME Master Electricians Racing moves into the V8 Fujitsu Series Master Electricians/simPRO Formula Ford driver, Andre Borell, has decided to take a sabbatical from racing in 2011 and has moved into a management role for up and comer Ash Walsh. With this announcement, Master Electricians will now be sponsoring Ash, who after a successful 2010 competing in the Australian Formula Ford series, has been invited to race in the V8 Fujitsu series for 2011. Ash has already completed many test days with his Wayne Miles Racing team which has seen him register some impressive times. Watch out for Ash’s first race in the Adelaide Clipsal 500 in March.
Name: Age: Occupation: Hobbies: Achievements: 2010 2009 2008
Ash Walsh 22 Accounting Student Triathlon, Cycling
4th Australia Formula Ford Championship 1st Gold Coast SuperGP Formula Ford Formula Renault WEC A1GP Rookie Driver for Team Australia 2007 2nd Australian Formula Ford Championship 8 Straight Wins in Formula Ford (All time record) 2006 3rd Australian Formula Ford Championship Rookie of the Year
L: Danny Finnerty, Onsite Electrical R: Andrew Bailey, MEA General Manager
L&H Tradeshow wrap up MEA attended the 2010 Connections Oz Trader’s 500 trade shows which were held in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney throughout September, October, November and December. Traders’s 500 is the biggest electrical industry trade show in Australia – designed and run by the L&H Group to provide electrical contractors an opportunity to meet wholesalers, suppliers and industry stakeholders in a face-to-face environment. Thank you to everyone who took the time to turn up to meet the friendly MEA team.
Project Safety Switch website live The Project Safety Switch website – www. switchthinking.com.au has gone live. The website, aimed at the consumer, is the one-stop resource centre for all Australians wishing to understand the importance of safety switches. The website features a range of useful resources, including a safety checklist
for homeowners and an array of helpful information. The site will be promoted through a range of media throughout the Switch Thinking campaign and will feature regular program updates. Safety switches on every circuit, on every Australian home, installed by 2016. Switch your thinking today.
Training opportunities Did you know that you can access subsidised training programs for high demand industries, such as in photovoltaic systems, hazardous areas, instrumentation, and industrial communication and controls? In 2010, MEA’s training partner, ECA, provided subsided training for over 500 students. This meant that some Master Electricians course cost was subsidised up to 90 per cent. Funding is provided by government and industry bodies to increase the skills of existing electrical workers, strengthen workforce capabilities and reduce skills shortages. Funded courses from the current training schedule include: • Photovoltaic systems • Hazardous areas • Industrial communication and controls • Instrumentation • Digital reception technology • Training and assessment Through ECA, MEA has the flexibility, experience and resources to deliver training nationally to groups of ten or more students. For more information, contact the training department on 1300 889 198.
2011 Annual Conference location announced 23 - 27 September 2011 The 2011 ECA and MEA Annual Conference destination has been announced. Join a range of electrical contractors, wholesalers, suppliers and industry stakeholders for a South Pacific journey of a lifetime as together we explore the wonder of spectacular Fiji! The 2011 Annual Conference is guaranteed to boast a never before seen line up of talented and inspiring speakers who together will release your inner drive and enthusiasm for your business. You will enjoy five glorious days of island activities including water sports, pampering and culinary delights to ensure you get the most out of your island escape. For more information visit www.masterelectricians.com.au
Master Electricians Australia welcomes NSW safety switch regulations Master Electricians Australia (MEA) endorsed the New South Wales Government’s decision to mandate electrical safety switches in all workplaces throughout the state. We know from recent research that around 15 Australians are killed each year in electrical accidents in Australian homes, where a safety switch could have saved a life if fitted. We also know that around 300 people are hospitalised with severe injuries. While figures for preventable workplace electrocutions are not as clear, we know there are many people who go to work and simply don’t come home because of electrical accidents. The program announced by Finance Minister, Michael Daley, is the only one so far in Australia to offer rebates of up to $500 for small businesses to install the life-saving devices. MEA congratulates the New South Wales Government on its determination to make every workplace as safe as possible, and for putting its money where its mouth is by offering rebates to install safety switches. MEA Chief Executive, Malcolm Richards, has urged business owners to ensure they have a safety switch on all circuits. While some switchboards were fitted with circuit breakers or surge protectors, these were designed to safeguard electrical equipment, rather than save lives. Mr Richards said the New South Wales Government should also consider making safety switches mandatory for homes, but he also urged home owners to be proactive in relation to their own safety. “Home owners should also consider installing a safety switch on every circuit – they shouldn’t wait for it to become a legal requirement. “A safety switch will save the life of a family member in less time than it takes a heart to beat. It may be the best investment you could ever make.”
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newsflash Master Electricians welcomes solar scheme winding back Master Electricians Australia (MEA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to wind back its home solar scheme, saying the new subsidies represented a realistic level of support for genuine industry players. MEA also renewed its call for a consistent national feed-in tariff which is fixed at one and a half times the grid price, to ensure certainty for both consumers and the solar industry. MEA Chief Executive, Malcolm Richards, said the high level of subsidies up until now had drawn inexperienced operators into the solar industry, destroying opportunities for contractors committed to providing high quality products, service and advice. “We have seen from previous schemes that overly generous subsidies create a bubble in the market, attracting operators who are interested only in short-term profits rather than create a long-term benefit for the community. “Reducing the subsidy rate will allow genuine players to create a long-term and sustainable industry. “We also recommend a system of gross feed-in tariffs, to ensure that stay-at-home mums or families who work night shifts are not disadvantaged by needing to use more electricity during the day. “Under a gross feed-in tariff, all electricity produced would be fed back into the grid, and the home would then draw its power from the electricity retailer. By comparison, a net feedin tariff, which currently exists in many states, does not provide the same level of financial incentive for home owners to make the switch.”
Woman to Sue Seattle City Light Over Dog’s Electrocution A Seattle woman said she plans to sue Seattle City Light after her dog was electrocuted while walking down a sidewalk. Lisa McKibbin said her German shorthair Sammy started yelping then collapsed and later died after stepping on a metal plate on Queen Anne Avenue North. The shock was caused by a nearby lamppost that wasn’t properly grounded. www.kirotv.com/news/
2010 Training Programs INVESTING IN SKILLS AND TRAINING Electro Group Training is pleased to offer a wide range of quality training programs to suit the Electrotechnology Industry.
Electro Group Training are your own not for profit skills centre owned and operated by your industry and proudly supported by the Electrical and Communications Association (ECA) and The Electrical Trades Union (ETU).
All training programs are conducted on our premises at Rocklea Electro Group Training 9 Railway Terrace Rocklea PO BOX 570 Moorooka Q 4105
Our Skills Centre uses appropriately qualified industry specialists to provide training in: • Electrician Apprenticeship Programs • Optical Fibre Cabling – CPR Endorsement • CPR/Resuscitation and Switchboard Rescue • Construction Wiring (AS/NZS 3012:2003) • Open Registration (Telecommunications)
• Restricted Registration (Telecommunications) • Structured Cabling (category 6 and Coaxial) • Electrical Installation Inspection and Testing / Skills Maintenance / License Renewal • Solar PV cell installation (Clean Energy Council Accreditation)
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V8 Supercar I have been writing these Test Drive articles for The Master Electrician for the last couple of years now. All the reviews have been practical. Utes, vans, sedans â€“ something that anyone reading the magazine might be looking for. This one is not practical at all, but I donâ€™t care, because it was incredible... ANDRE BORELL
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I am no stranger to race cars, having competed in the Australian Formula Ford Championship for the past two years, and having raced karts since I was 11. Despite that, I was pretty excited about getting to drive a V8 Supercar. With butterflies in the stomach, and one or two nervous toilet stops after arriving at the track, I was being briefed by the engineer on how one of these beasts work. First we ran through all the cockpit controls and did a radio check. That took a while. These things have more switches on the dash then even the most gizmo-filled road car. Next, we sat down in front of a computer and ran though one of the full-time V8 drivers data so I knew what to expect - where to brake, how hard to brake, how to turn the car and so on. It’s all recorded by a data logger to be analysed after the session. Then, without the slightest concern for my nerves, he said “Righto, suit up and get in”. The driving position is nothing like a Falcon, you sit quite far to the middle (for safety) and the pedals are in a better position. In fact the whole car is nothing like its road going counterpart. I think they only use the head lights, tail lights, front grille and mirrors from the actual Falcon, that’s it. It’s a real, purpose built, race car. Taking off out of pit lane was somewhat surreal; it was a sense of fulfilling a major aim. The thing was popping and backfiring on the pit lane limiter while the engineer gave me some last minute tips on the radio, the general gist of which was “don’t crash”. What do you say to that? www.masterelectricians.com.au
The first thing you notice once you turn off the pit lane speed limiter is the power. I got on the throttle as you would in any other race car leaving pit lane, but these things are crazy. With only about half throttle it was wheel spinning like crazy. Oops, better pull second gear! When I got to the first corner, I came to the next realisation, these are not very nimble! You need to turn them in very aggressively to get it to take a ‘set’ (transfer the weight to the outside tyres and hold it there). Realisation number three was that how you brake in a road car, or even a Formula Ford is totally irrelevant in these. Multiply how hard you think you need to push it by three, and you’re about half way there! You really, really stand on them. Throttle control is vital, as you think I would have learnt from exiting pit lane somewhat too over ambitiously. Turns out I didn’t - the throttle still managed to catch me out another two times resulting in a quick spin. Problem is with a big heavy race car with hardly any tyres, is that spinning
sideways literally tears the tyre apart. Apparently I still owe the boys a case of beer for every tyre I destroyed! I got to drive the supercar for a total of three sessions, and around 25 laps around Queensland Raceway. As the confidence built, the lap times dropped, and by the end of the day it was no longer intimidating – I just wanted to push the thing harder! It was an awesome experience, and if you ever get offered a ride in one, don’t even consider turning it down! The verdict? Big brakes, big engines, and rubbish tyres. What this means is that they are an absolute animal to drive. Far more challenging than anything I have ever driven. I have a new found respect for all the V8 Supercar drivers. These cars are big, heavy and fast. You have to concentrate every part of the corner, there is nowhere you get a break, nowhere in a corner is it easy to handle. The day sure has whetted my appetite for these, and I look forward to racing one in the future!
V8 Supercar Engine
5.0L Ford V8 Supercar Race Engine
Alcon Control Bakes
Dunlop Control Tyre
eventscalendar what’s on FEBRUARY
8 February 2011 Future of Lighting Summit Melbourne www.engineersaustralia.com.au
17-20 March 2011 Clipsal 500 Adelaide www.Clipsal500.com.au
5-7 April 2011 Safety in Action Conference and Trade Show 2011 Melbourne www.sia.org.au
22 February 2011 The National Relationship/Based Safety Forum Sydney www.sia.org.au
23-26 March 2011 Energising South East Asia Conference Perth www.ecogeneration.com.au
24-26 February 2011 Australian Construction Equipment Expo Melbourne www.aceexpo.com.au
30-31 March 2011 Earthing, Lighting and Surge Protection Forum Brisbane www.idc-online.com
Melbourne: 4 & 5 April 2011 Sydney: 7 & 8 April 2011 Brisbane: 11 & 12 April 2011 Practical SCADA Systems for Industry www.idc-online.com 6 April 2011 87th National EESA Conference & Trade Exhibition Sandy Bay, Hobart www.engineersaustralia.com.au
SAVE THE DATE Australia’s leading Annual Conference for the electrotechnology industry 23 - 27 September 2011 FIJI www.masterelectricians.com.au
the master electrician
your best or worststory It’s easy, send us your favourite funny story or picture and if we publish it, we’ll send you $50.
A knock at the door... As I was approaching the HSC in 1970 I had no idea what I wanted to do. The Careers Advisor suggested I do a short term apprenticeship. I chose Electrical Fitter/ Mechanic. Whilst I breezed through the Tech Work I struggled with the installation side of things. The fire protection company I worked for did everything in steel conduit and pyroytenax. When I finished my trade I sat for my Electrician’s Licence and headed overseas. I worked in a range of jobs before settling down in country New South Wales. My wife got work straight away as a nurse. I applied for several positions without success. When
we applied to get the phone connected I stated my occupation as electrician. Unbeknown to me when the phone book came out I was in the Yellow Pages under Electrical Contractors. One morning there was a loud knock at the front door. When I opened it, standing there were three big burly men in grey suits. They said are you John Anthony Cafe? Are you an electrician? I thought they were the police. They said we’re from the Housing Commission. We need an electrician in this area. They handed me a sample contract and left. Not knowing anything about this type of
work I made some enquiries and contacted the previous electrician. He said the work was currently on good rates but he’d received a better offer to drive milk trucks. He sold me a van full of electrical gear and all his customers for $2000. A week later I signed a three year contract with the Housing Commission. Now in my late fifties I’m again back on the tools and enjoying it. I know it’s a well worn cliché but you can always fall back on your trade. John Cafe from Bega, NSW has a $50 cheque on the way.
lastword When is an emergency an emergency? We spend a lot of time documenting procedures, training staff and ensuring a safe outcome, then we have an emergency. And sometimes, in our own minds, it can often justify cutting a few corners to get the power back on. Whether it is a cyclone, flood or just a cranky customer, there is no such thing as an emergency when electricity is involved. The time spent analysing procedures and regulations in routine business are specifically designed and needed the most when we are under time pressures and stress to ensure we get it right. Following the floods in Qld we saw attempts from some parts of the industry to disregard the licensing and insurance requirements for contractors to work in that state. The current licensing requirements are designed to ensure the people allowed to engage with the general public have the appropriate training, skills and insurance to ensure the customer is left with a safe and reliable outcome. If we allowed a person without these requirements to work directly for customers then we have to realise what
will happen if the work is not done properly. What come back does a home owner have against an unlicensed contractor who was allowed by the government to perform work on their home? Consumers should have the peace of mind of knowing that their contractor has passed the necessary tests, and that the chances of faulty work are greatly reduced as a result. Secondly, consumers should know that if the installation was left unsafe or non compliant they won’t have the difficulty of trying to hold someone to account or claim on their insurance if they are located in another state and don’t hold a state based licence. While a lot of these issues should be resolved through the National Licensing rationalisation process where a state licence may transcend state borders, a lot of work is still required before we achieve uniformity. The issues listed above are some of the main sticking points between a strong national licence and a simple registry of workers wishing to work as contractors. They are rules that are in place to protect
us, to preserve the value of our businesses, and to offer the highest level of assurance to our clients. They should not be whittled away as part of national negotiations, and they certainly shouldn’t be abandoned in panic at the first sign of a crisis. Hopefully our industry will remain strong and safe as it has been for years, and work together to ensure we retain the highest standards into the future.
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MALCOLM RICHARDS Chief Executive Officer
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Published on Feb 22, 2011
The Master Electrician is the leading magazine for the electrotechnology industry in Australia. The magazine includes important updates from...