Energy Solutions for a Greener America | from the National Electrical Contractors Association

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NECA Launches New Online Tool for Financing Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects

NECA National has just launched the highly anticipated Energy Conservation and Performance (E-CAP™) tool to help contractors capture more energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Just like an energy service company (ESCO), NECA contractors can now offer performance contracting services by providing customers with flexible financing solutions and performance guarantees. All NECA contractors can access the E-CAP™ tool for free and create personalized accounts for all their project development, financing, and underwriting needs.

The market outlook for ESCOs is very positive and with the E-CAP™ tool NECA contractors can become larger players in this space. According to a study published by Navigant Research, the US ESCO market is expected to see growth into 2020 from current annual revenues of $4.9 Billion to almost $8.3 Billion. The federal sector in particular is expected to be a large contributor to this growth due in part to the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative, which aimed to provide $2 billion in energy performance contracts in 2013 alone. Further, McKinsey Consulting claims that the US economy currently needs $520 billion in energy efficiency financing to realize a $1.2 trillion return on its investment within 10 years.

Contractors using the E-CAP™ tool can provide clients with investment grade project performance guarantees and flexible project financing using third-party project investors and insurance. By embracing the E-CAP™ tool, NECA contractors can seamlessly integrate flexible financing solutions and performance guarantees into an existing sales process with a small amount of additional effort. A NECA contractor using E-CAP™ will no longer need to borrow or invest company money or worry if a project will perform as designed; because, financing is only available when the project makes financial sense and guarantees are only available when the projected energy savings are attainable.  The team behind E-CAP™ will work hand-in-hand with the contractor to achieve all contractor and client goals.

While the E-CAP™ tool is made possible by a first of its kind partnership between four industry leading companies – CapX, Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, Energi, and Honest Buildings – it is non-exclusive as to the source of financing or insurance. If a contractor already has a relationship with a financing or insurance provider, that provider can also be seamlessly integrated into the E-CAP™ process.  The NECA E-CAP™ tool can also be used to secure Property Assessed Clean Energy, (or “PACE”) financing. PACE is one of many financing models that the E-CAP™ tool supports and is structured so that payments towards the project investment are paid through the building’s property taxes. This financing is limited to areas were PACE legislation is enacted, however according to a recent study conducted by PACE Now, 40 states already have PACE legislation in place.

The E-CAP™ tool offers a tremendous service to building owners who traditionally have to deal with many different issues including decreasing building competitiveness, depressed asset value from deferred maintenance, unanticipated risks from environmental policy changes, uncompetitive rents and lease rates, and discounted investment returns.  NECA contractors offering E-CAP™ can help building owners by financing and guaranteeing increased net operating income (NOI), increased asset value, improved environmental quality, and expanded balance sheet capacity.

There are seven steps to developing a new E-CAP™ project:

Step 1: Identify and Engage Project

After you have been qualified, you will need to identify and engage a project with the NECA E-CAP™ Project Development Agreement.  This agreement is designed to protect your development efforts from uncommitted project beneficiaries.

Step 2: Generate Project Proposal

Once you have identified and engaged your project, you can begin the design and engineering process.  We will provide training and access to our ASTM compliant underwriting platform to make sure that your proposals comply with market best practices.

Step 3: Underwrite Project Financing

At this stage, we will work with you and your customer to underwrite your project’s credit.  You will be provided with E-CAP™ credit applications for both private and public entities reflecting underwriting best practices.

Step 4: Underwrite Project for Performance Insurance

Once your project has been approved for financing, we will begin underwriting it for an insured performance guarantee.  Our insurance consulting team is dedicated to solving any of your underwriting gaps or problems.

Step 5: Select Project Funding Structure

Upon completion of your project’s underwriting for financing and performance insurance, we will issue a final term-sheet that gives you the option of a self-fund project with performance guarantee, to fund the project with conventional financing and a performance guarantee, to fund the project using performance based financing, or to fund the project with PACE financing and a performance guarantee.

Step 6: Fund and Install Project

Your project funding will commence in accordance with the agreed upon draw schedule in your project’s final agreement.  The E-CAP™ tool will provide you with active updates about your project’s installation and funding draw schedule.

Step 7: Operate and Monitor Project

In the final step, the NECA E-CAP™ tool will provide you with a dashboard to actively manage your project’s measurement and verification requirements using best practices.

To learn more about this exciting opportunity visit

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What’s the U.S. Market Share of Electric Vehicles?

Someone might not ask you the question above . . . but just in case, as shown in the below Electric Drive Transportation Association table (more here) – it was 3.8%.

Also, market share in 2012 = 3.38%. In 2011, it was 2.23%.

graphic for EV2013


By Joe Salimando
Salimando is a Fairfax, Virginia-based writer and contributor to and his own Reach him at

Thursday, January 30, 2014

600 IBEW Electricians and NECA Contractor, Motor City Electric, Light Up the Auto Show


Detroit, Mich., January 14, 2014-Long before there are any cars at COBO Center for the North American International Auto Show, the skilled electricians of IBEW Local 58 and NECA Contractor, Motor City Electric, are among the first on the scene to begin preparations for the event.

The show floor begins as an empty shell that over months becomes the show-stopper that we all see when the curtain rises. Thousands of lights, amazing amounts of support infrastructure, power supplies and miles of cable are installed by these highly skilled electricians.

“They’re some of the first people on the job as early as October when the show starts getting set up and they work straight through to the beginning of the show,” said Thom Connors, General Manager of COBO Center.

IBEW Local 58 and their management partners at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) decided to document the process this year with a time-lapse video and interviews during the entire build process.

“We begin with an empty shell and build up to what you see on the show floor.  It takes 600 highly skilled IBEW Local 58 electricians to pull the show together in what amounts to just enough time each year.  Most people have no idea what it takes to put this show together so we thought we would capture it and share it,” said Michael Richard, Business Manager at IBEW Local 58.

The electricians are responsible for installing thousands and thousands of lights, miles of cable, giant video walls and then managing and distributing the power to make it all shine.  There is enough power used at COBO Center during the show to power a small city.

“It’s our job to make sure all of the customers have the power they need and that the work is done safely,” said Dan Reske, Director of Operations for Motor City Electric, the electrical contractor for the show.

Orchestrating a production of this magnitude is no easy task.

“We make sure our people are here supporting what’s needed and that there’s no down time, no dead time, but as you’ll see, the timeline is very critical and a lot happens in a short period of time,” Richard said.

Work continues seemingly around the clock and continues behind the scenes during the two-week show.

“It’s kind of like operating on someone who’s awake,” Richard said. “Adjustments and changes have to be made while the show is running and the world is watching. It takes highly skilled electricians to manage the power, effectively and safely.

“Because of our training and expertise, our members are uniquely qualified to do this work.”

Check out the time lapse of the show build and hear more of the story at

CONTACT:              Jennifer Mefford, Director of Business Development

PHONE:                   248-318-7885


Monday, January 20, 2014

LEDs Can Change Color

Yes, LEDs are amazing – and they’ll become even more so over the next few years. BUT (yes, it’s a big but!) . . . they’re not all the way there yet.

Evidence: A recent “Postings” by the DOE’s Solid-State Lighting people, “More About Color Shift” included:

Although lumen maintenance gets most of the attention when it comes to SSL lifetime, color shift can be a significant cause of parametric failure for LED light sources, especially in color-critical applications. 

While a change in color may not matter much in a warehouse, it can be a significant problem in a museum or retail store.

Yet SSL color maintenance remains a murky topic that’s not yet covered by standards that will eventually put everyone on the same page.

We bolded the words that matter. The electrical industry is accustomed to standards, codes, enforcement, and industry standards . . . some of which are decades old. So this is a reminder: LED technology is so new, it has (to use a football term) “outkicked the coverage” – in that the standards-writers literally can’t keep up.

DOE’s 3-page PDF goes on to explore various aspects of color shift. Here’s just a bit more (with more bolding from the Energy Solutions blog) . . . with what may be a tip for savvy electrical contactors:

Potential color shift – and the need for warranty coverage – is often overlooked at the time of installation and only comes to mind when there’s visible evidence of change.

But that may be too late. In color-critical applications, one should begin monitoring color at the time of installation, or at least take steps to allow for future investigations.

By Joe Salimando
Salimando is a Fairfax, Virginia-based writer and contributor to and his own Reach him at

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Top Energy Technologies to Watch in 2014

This year, sizeable growth is expected in the deployment of advanced energy efficiency technologies.  We also expect to see growth in renewable and natural gas powered distributed energy generation technologies.   A brief list of interesting energy technologies to watch in 2014 is listed below.

1. Advanced Lighting and Shading

In a typical home, the largest part of the energy demand comes from heating and cooling through the HVAC system. After your HVAC system, lighting is typically the second largest portion of the energy bill. Most people don’t realize that a window shade can be a crucial tool in regulating heating, cooling, and lighting demands.  As such, creating an integrated system to control these demands can significantly reduce your costs while increasing occupant comfort. Advanced lighting and shading technology uses occupancy and light sensors to provide the correct amount of light for the activity at hand. These features can also be controlled through your smart phone or tablet!

2. Solar Thermal

As we’ve learned in school, a calorie represents the heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water up 1 deg. C. Despite the energy intensity to heat water, it doesn’t take a chemist or a master of thermodynamics to understand that to accomplish this, solar energy is cheaper than using natural gas. Solar thermal essentially raises the water temperature using sunlight to reduce the heating required by the water heater. This technology is also rather simple – consisting of roof-mounted solar energy plates and a hot water storage tank.

3. Microturbines & Micro CHP

Microturbines generate power independent of the grid. They can burn a multitude of fuels to produce power and the waste heat can be harvested for additional uses such as water heating as part of a Micro CHP (cogeneration) system.  NRG is currently testing Stirling engines – natural gas fueled portable generation units capable of producing 15 kilowatts of power and providing excess energy to the grid. For an interesting read, click here:

4. Energy Storage

For renewable energy generation through wind and solar, the production rate is never constant due to variations in weather. By storing this energy in an energy harvesting technology, a constant load can be extracted for emergency heat, refrigeration, or even to sell power back to the grid. Storage can be accomplished through many forms such as a battery, flywheel, compressed air, etc. However, no matter how it is accomplished, renewable energy and energy harvesting go hand-in-hand.

If you have any questions about any of these technologies, please feel free to contact NECA’s Business Development team.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Keep Your Finger on the Market With AEL Regulatory Tracker Tool

Renewable energy continues to be a hot topic in the energy industry and it is only expected to continue its growth in energy supply market share.  In the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 2014 Outlook, it is anticipated that by 2015, US renewable energy supply power will reach 9 quadrillion Btu (See the breakdown of this prediction below), with utility-scale solar capacity expected to increase 40%.














Although there have been large cost declines, particularly in the PV industry, over the past few years another large market driver for adoption is regulations (for example, the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule affecting coal-fired power plants). As such, monitoring current and pending legislation would provide great insight into upcoming opportunities for solar and other renewable energy–both locally and nationally.

I know what you’re thinking: this is a full time job in itself! Not the case.

There are numerous tracking tools and news sites that can work to provide targeted information at your fingertips. One such site is the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker. This website tool monitors legislation pertaining to energy topics in all 50 states and D.C. and also provides insight as to where the legislation stands (i.e. introduced, passed one chamber, passed both chambers, enacted). Use the search functions on the homepage to search by state, topic, status or keyword or alternatively, bookmark the recent news page to stay up to date across the board. With its ease of use, this is a great reference while at your desk or on-the-go.

As Congress returned to work this week, make it your New Year resolution to follow the issues. Energy legislation to watch in 2014 includes the Keystone XL pipeline as well as energy efficiency legislation from Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH). Learn more about NECA’s role here at:

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Progress and Future of Energy Efficiency– As Told by Industry Executives

Recently Green Tech Media published an article on the status of the energy efficiency industry from the perspective of those that are driving it – the executives of large energy companies. Read the full post here to learn about what your customers think as well as how data, technology, and financing will impact your business opportunities in 2014:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Industry Insights from the National Lighting Bureau

As 2013 comes to a close, the National Lighting Bureau looks to the future of the lighting industry. Recently, Edison Report TV producer Randy Reid spent time with some of the Bureau’s board of directors to gain an outlook through 2020. Read more about the interviews and their responses here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

PACE Financing Creates Stimulus for Energy Efficiency Projects in Michigan

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 11.16.03 AM

Working with Lean & Green Michigan, the Southeast Michigan Labor-Management Cooperation Committee (LMCC has helped several counties and municipalities create a PACE Financing District, including two of the largest Michigan Counties, Macomb and Wayne. The LMCC is a joint project of NECA’s Southeastern Michigan Chapter and IBEW Local Union #58.

PACE, an acronym for “Property Assessed Clean Energy” legislation, enables almost all property owners (homeowners not included) to finance 100% of a building retrofit or clean energy project over as long as 20 years with repayment coming via a special tax assessment. In other words, you get the energy project and savings up front, and you pay for it over a decade or more in your tax bill.

“The state legislation enabling municipalities and counties to adopt PACE passed in 2010,” explained Jennifer Mefford, Director of Business Development for the LMCC.

“Local governments must adopt an ordinance to create a PACE District to enable the program to begin.  We’ve been working hard with local governments to create large PACE Districts which will offer our contractors a very powerful financing tool for their customers.”

“Macomb County (population of 840,000) and Wayne County (nearly 1.8 million) are now the largest PACE districts in Michigan. These counties are taking leadership roles in moving PACE forward and IBEW-NECA are working hand-in-hand to make sure the program is successful for our contractors and customers.

Reducing customer resistance

According to Mefford, PACE is exciting to electrical contractors because it has the potential to melt customer resistance to implementing projects that improve energy efficiency. “With PACE, the customers are looking at zero out-of-pocket costs  – no cost upfront.”

“So what our contractors can offer potential customers is, basically, a cash-flow-positive situation. And that’s from Year One of the project!”

Unfortunately, Mefford noted, given the recovering Michigan economy, there still can be a short-of-cash problem for owners of buildings. Many either (1) do not have the funds on-hand, (2) want to conserve money, or (3) the payback on a traditional loan doesn’t make sense.

“Cash is still an issue. The PACE program enables these customer companies to choose to implement a program,” she said.

“Further, our contractors can propose an energy-efficiency retrofit now, combined with an energy project – such as a solar PV installation. Perhaps when a company is short on cash, that can be an ‘either-or’ proposition.

“But with the PACE program, there’s no need for a difficult capital spending choice. As the financing – via a special tax assessment – is over 10 years or even 20, the customer companies can opt to do it all.”

Financing angle

What makes a PACE program so attractive to financing companies is that the projects are financed via private lenders and collected as a special assessment on their tax bill.

Additionally, the energy efficiency measures implemented must more than cover the monthly loan payment.  Lenders like the security of having the project payments come “right off the top,” so to speak – as almost all of us, people and corporations, pay their taxes.

Qualifying building owners include companies that own commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings, as well as private non-profit property owners.

“This promises to help our contractors, and our electricians,” said Mefford. “There have been hundreds of energy assessments done in recent years, and earlier, which haven’t resulted in concrete projects often due to lack of financing.

“In other words, there is a lot of deferred energy work out there in Macomb and Wayne. The recent action taken by these counties should help turn more of those ‘not now’ decisions into ‘Yes’ answers.”

A final note: Although the tab for the retrofit/energy projects is collected out of the customer’s tax bill, no government dollars (no subsidies) are part of any project’s funding.

For more information:

Written by Joe Salimando

The opinions expressed in this blog post do not reflect the official opinion of the National Electrical Contractors Association. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Good-Bye to the Incandescent Light Bulb

This January marks a regulatory milestone in the lighting industry with Thomas Edison’s light bulb being phased out in the United States.  More specifically, this legislation, or the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), represents a market driver to create new jobs for NECA electrical contractors. According to a press release published by the National Lighting Bureau, after January 1st, manufacturing 60-watt and 40-watt general-purpose “A-line” incandescent light bulbs “will be a violation of law.” This phase-out concludes a process that began in January 2012 by excluding 100-watt bulbs from manufacturing. Once fully implemented, it is estimated that the EISA will save 176.25 billion kilowatt-hours per year in energy. For more information, read the entire press release here.

Is this Switch 3-way LED bulb the light of the future?

Is this Switch 3-way LED bulb the light of the future?

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NECA Launches New Online Tool for Financing Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects

March 25, 2014

What’s the U.S. Market Share of Electric Vehicles?

February 5, 2014

600 IBEW Electricians and NECA Contractor, Motor City Electric, Light Up the Auto Show

January 30, 2014

LEDs Can Change Color

January 20, 2014

Top Energy Technologies to Watch in 2014

January 15, 2014

Keep Your Finger on the Market With AEL Regulatory Tracker Tool

January 8, 2014

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