All The Latest News from NECA

Oct 02

ELECTRI Events at NECA 2014 Chicago

ELECTRI International – The Foundation for Electrical Construction hosted several events during the annual NECA Convention in Chicago on September 27-30, 2014:

Wendt Award

Dennis F Quebe, NECA President and Daniel J. Divane, 2013-2014 ELECTRI Council Chair; Photo by Chuck FazioAt the NECA Convention Opening General Session, ELECTRI Council Chair Dan Divane (Divane Bros. Electric, Chicago) was honored by the Foundation with its prestigious Wendt Award. This annual recognition is named in honor of Albert G. Wendt (Canon & Wendt, Phoenix, AZ) and recognizes outstanding leadership and commitment to the electrical construction industry.

ELECTRI Council Meeting

Due to the unanticipated flight delays/cancellations into Chicago, the ELECTRI Council meeting was shortened to accommodate the rescheduled Green Energy Challenge final presentations. Greg Long (Long Electric, Napa, CA) was nominated by Dan Divane as the 2015-2016 ELECTRI Council Chair. The full Council affirmed the nomination. Research reports originally scheduled for this Council meeting will be presented at the Council’s January meeting in San Diego. The CalPoly San Luis Obispo faculty advisors gave a report about their Ecuador Student Passport Competition entry. (The project had not been selected for the Passport finals.)

2014 Green Energy Challenge Finals

LtR: Doug Hague, NECA Executive Committee, with Iowa State University NECA Student Chapter Team; Photo by Chuck FazioThis year, ELECTRI challenged each NECA Student chapter team to select a student use facility, conduct an energy audit of the building’s power and lighting systems, and design and propose a retrofit for both. Competition judges evaluated 15 entries from top universities throughout the United States. The three finalist teams made their final oral presentations at the NECA Convention. ELECTRI awarded Iowa State $4,000 for the win. San Diego State placed second and received $3,000. Colorado State was third with a grant of $2,000. Iowa State team member Maggie Holt was selected as the competition’s Best Presenter and received an ELECTRI award of $500.

2014 Green Energy Challenge Poster Competition

San Diego State University NECA Student Chapter; Photo by Chuck FazioNine teams entered the Poster Competition. The top schools receiving awards for their posters included: San Diego State ($1,000); Iowa State ($750); and Illinois Institute of Technology ($350).

ELECTRI’s special thanks goes to all judges of both events for supporting ELECTRI’s Talent Initiative.

ELECTRI International Reception

LtR: Gustavo Varela (Comptel Ingenieria, Costa Rica), Russell J. Alessi (ELECTRI International), Kenneth MacDougall (Penn-Del-Jersey Chapter NECA); Photo by Chuck FazioA standing-room-only crowd enjoyed the by-invitation ELECTRI International reception at the historic Union League Club. Current Council members welcomed contractors and industry allies who are considering joining the Council.

High Priority Topics Committee (HPTC)

This newly-formed group met jointly with ELECTRI’s Kitchen Cabinet. Together, these industry leaders discussed programmatic ideas that they believe are essential to the future of electrical construction. The goal is to turn these topics into proposals and projects that ELECTRI can commission as part of its research agenda each year. The HPTC reviewed thirty topic suggestions and narrowed the list to five. The Program Review Committee will now select two initiative concepts and include them in the next Request for Proposal that goes out to investigators at leading universities.

General Session Presentation

Daniel J. Divane, 2013-2014 ELECTRI Council Chair; Photo by Chuck FazioCouncil Chair Dan Divane addressed the closing day General Session and gave a full report on ELECTRI’s growth and expansion during the past year. He highlighted new commitments to the Foundation, especially the increase in commitments made by NECA Chapters across the country.

The next ELECTRI Council Meeting will take place at Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, from 21-23 January, 2015. To find out more, please contact Sylvia Selwood at or 301-215-4539.

Sep 28

Exciting Finish for ELECTRI’s Green Energy Challenge 

The results are in for ELECTRI International’s 2014 Green Energy Challenge and the winner is Iowa State University.

Iowa State University NECA Student Chapter, Photo by Chuck FazioThis year, ELECTRI challenged each college team to select a student use facility, conduct an energy audit of the building’s power and lighting systems, and design and propose a retrofit for both. The teams entered in the competition included construction management and engineering students who actively participate in their university’s Student Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Competition judges, including contractors and industry partners, evaluated 15 entries from top universities throughout the United States. The three finalist teams were hosted by ELECTRI International at NECA’s National Convention in Chicago where they made their final oral presentations.

Best Presenter, Maggie Holt, Iowa State University, Photo by Chuck FazioELECTRI awarded Iowa State $4,000 for the win. Iowa State proposed updating the on-campus Memorial Union by improving the multi-use facility’s lighting, adding solar technology, and sub-metering. San Diego State placed second and received $3,000.Colorado State was third with a grant of $2,000. Iowa State team member Maggie Holt was selected as the competition’s Best Presenter and received an ELECTRI award of $500.

Poster Competition Results

San Diego State NECA Student Chapter, Photo by Chuck FazioNine teams entered the Green Energy Challenge Poster Competition. The top schools receiving awards for their posters included: San Diego State ($1,000); Iowa State ($750); and Illinois Institute of Technology ($350).


For additional information about ELECTRI International and its Green Energy Challenge, contact Sylvia Selwood, ELECTRI Director of Operations and University Relations, at 301-215-4539 or


Oct 15

University of Washington Wins Green Energy Challenge

Cheers, whoops of joy, and applause went up at the NECA Student Chapter Summit as the University of Washington student team was announced as winner of the 2013 Green Energy Challenge. Penn State followed with second place, and Iowa State rounded out the finalists in third.

This marks the second first-place win for UW teams. The school came in second place in the 2012 Green Energy Challenge and they were determined to take back the top spot this year.  UW won the first Green Energy Challenge held in their hometown of Seattle at the 2009 NECA Convention, and they have placed among the finalist every year of the competition.

“Obviously, UW is a powerhouse team,” said Russ Alessi, President of ELECTRI International, the competition’s sponsor. “They grasped the concept of the Green Energy Challenge to give students the chance to solve a real-world energy problem, and they have consistently delivered innovative solutions.”

This year’s design challenge required teams to create a comprehensive design and bid package for a parking garage “green energy” retrofit in their communities. Teams had to perform an energy audit of an existing parking facility and specify a lighting efficiency upgrade system and handle installation for new electric vehicle charging stations. Teams had to calculate ROI for update investments.

The real challenge came with integrating a renewable power source into the facility. All three teams rejected wind power due to expense and zoning restrictions. Solar panel rooftop panels were used by all three, but the UW team opted to put their panels on the roof of an adjacent campus building ideally situated to gather solar energy. The electricity generated was used to power both the garage and building. Teams also presented solar financing options for their clients to calculate into the overall ROI.

ELECTRI International thanks the NECA contractors, chapters and industry partners who shared their experts as student team advisers and Challenge jurors.

Oct 13

Welcome to NECA 2013 Washington DC!

The rainy weather hasn’t dampened spirits so far at the Board of Governors meeting, Energy Forum and pre-convention workshops – and especially last night’s Opening Reception at the National Building Museum!

I’m Beth Margulies, NECA’s communications director, and I’ll be live-blogging all the great programs and events at NECA 2013 DC. My personal favorite so far has been the Green Energy Challenge student design competitions – the three finalists teams from Iowa State, Penn State and the University of Washington gave outstanding presentations yesterday an intimidating “Board of Directors” made up of NECA contractors and industry experts. Those jurors will evaluate the presentations and the winning team will be announced Sunday at the NECA Student Chapter Summit.

Student teams were charged with creating a bid package for lighting retrofits, EV charging station installations and a renewable power source for a parking facility in their campus communities – everything from the types of lighting controls to financing options.  Pretty impressive stuff, and each student team thanked their sponsoring NECA chapter and local contractors for helping them create their comprehensive presentations.

Stay tuned to find out who won this year’s Green Energy Challenge, plus recaps from the general sessions and photos and videos direct from NECA 2013 DC! Leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts about what you see and experience.

Proud Penn State Green Energy Challenge finalists + their green garage retrofit

Sep 30

Youngstown State University Takes Top Prize at 2012 Green Energy Challenge

Students from Youngstown State University took top prize at the fourth annual Green Energy Challenge, sponsored by the National Electrical Contractors Association and ELECTRI International – The Foundation for Electrical Construction.

Winners were announced from the four  finalist teams following team project presentations at the conclusion of NECA’s Energy Forum on Saturday, Sept. 29. Youngstown came in second at last year’s competition, and the students were thrilled by their first win.

The University of Washington team came in second, and Iowa State University was third. Georgia Tech came in fourth. This was the first year four teams were included in the finalists’ presentations. Christian McCuen from the University of Washington was recognized as Best Presenter. The winners were announced at the annual NECA Student Chapter Summit on Sunday, Sept. 30.

For the 2012 Challenge, teams selected a facility on their campus, conducted an energy audit of the building’s power and lighting systems, and designed and proposed a retrofit for both systems. Teams were encouraged to use NECAWORKS in their proposals.

Finalist proposals can be viewed online.

Congratulations to Youngstown State University and their NECA chapter affiliate, Mahoning Valley Chapter, NECA!


Aug 13

Meet the 2012 Green Energy Challenge Finalists

A highlight of recent NECA conventions, the annual ELECTRI International Green Energy Challenge student design competition will feature four finalist teams in Las Vegas —  Georgia Tech, Iowa State University, University of Washington, and Youngstown State University

The teams will make their presentations in Las Vegas on September 29 immediately following the 2012 NECA Energy Forum. Each team is made up of construction management and engineering students who participate in their university’s student chapter of NECA. This year marks the first time four finalist teams have been chosen, as opposed to three.

“Energy Forum participants enjoy finishing the day hearing about the students’ visions of the industry’s future,” said Rob Colgan, NECA executive director, market development and Energy Forum organizer. “The Forum focuses on electrical contractors learning from each other, sharing how different companies are incorporating a variety of energy solutions work into their businesses. Then we can see how the next generation is using that information to create real changes for buildings on their campuses.”

More information about the 2012 Green Energy Challenge >>

Jun 24

Explore Renewable, Energy-Efficient Market at All-New NECA 2011 Energy Forum, Oct. 22

NECA will kick off its 2011 Convention and Trade Show in San Diego with an all-new, one-day Energy Forum for the electrical construction industry on Saturday, Oct. 22. Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will open the symposium with a keynote address, followed by panel and roundtable discussions on how electrical contractors can best help their customers meet their energy needs.

“Electrical contractors are the vital link between energy-efficient technology and cost-efficient construction,” said Stan Lazarian, President, Electric Service & Supply Co., Pasadena, Ca., and chair of NECA’s Energy Solution Task Force. “Our goal at the Energy Forum is to provide contractors and their customers with an opportunity to share what they’ve learned about working on renewable energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency projects.”

“How and where we get our energy has become a serious question for building owners, government leaders and developers. Rising energy prices and energy inefficiencies have everyone thinking about what the smart alternatives could be, but those alternatives have to make financial sense, both for the customer and the electrical contractor,” said Rob Colgan, NECA executive director, market development.

Alternative power and energy efficiency upgrades are the next boom market for contractors, Lazarian said. “But it’s hard for electrical contractors to know when it’s the right time for them to add new services to their traditional business model,” he said.

Making sense of the range of opportunities in green energy will be the focus of NECA’s inaugural Energy Forum. Speakers and session leaders will discuss the many ways electrical contractors can enter this market and what questions they need to ask before doing so.

In addition to Jon Wellinghoff, Energy Forum participants will hear from industry on energy economic modeling, the electric vehicle market, and innovative energy storage technology. The forum will discuss concrete examples of how to become an energy solutions contractor by addressing some fundamental questions, such as:

Is there a tool I can use to show realistic projections for energy and cost savings to customers?

What types of financing are available for renewable energy projects, and how could financing be impacted by future regulations?

How do we integrate renewable energy and energy efficiency to ensure reliable power?

NECA’s Energy Forum will be held at the San Diego Convention Center on Oct. 22, 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The cost is $129 for NECA members attending the 2011 Convention and $249 for individual registrants.  Lunch will be provided, and Forum registrants are invited to the final judging of NECA’s Green Energy Challenge, the annual student chapter design competition, at the conclusion of the Energy Forum.  Register Now>>

The “Weekend Package” includes the Energy Forum on Sat., Oct. 22, and all Sunday, Oct. 23 events, including the  Opening General Session with General Stanley McChrystal, plus all management seminars and technical workshops, the grand opening of the NECA Show and the Showstopper Showcase, tradeshow lunch and Sunday daily prize tickets. For $100 more, weekender registrants can choose the package that also includes the Opening Reception on the USS Midway. Non-member pricing is also available; press and government employees can request complementary registration by emailing Beth Margulies,

Oct 02

Nerves, Nerves, NERVES

The three finalist teams from the University of Washington, Milwaukee School of Engineering and Youngstown State University are making their presentations for the final round of judging in the Green Energy Challenge at this very moment. The winner will be announced tomorrow at the NECA Student Chapter Summit. No word yet if last year’s winner University of Washington will be making a sweep, or if one of the two upstart teams will win this year.

Aug 19

Guest Post: Green Energy Challenge Finalists Offer a Glimpse of the Future

by Russ Alessi, President, ELECTRI International

Competition is a great way to learn and focus student careers on electrical construction.  So it was a real a nail-biter when we convened the first round of judging for the Green Energy Challenge last month to select the three finalists teams that will present their designs at NECA 2010 Boston.

Last year, University of Washington took first place. UW will be returning as a finalist this year, but they will be joined by two teams new to the competition — Milwaukee School of Engineering and Youngstown State University.  We had 13 teams enter the competition this year — nearly double the number of teams that entered the 2009 Green Energy Challenge!

Teams were asked to conduct an energy audit of a local a manufacturing facility. They had to do provide information for everything from a PV analysis to a financing plan.

It’s so great to see the kind of work and attention to detail that the students put into their reports. I am fortunate to get to see first hand what kind of talent we have entering the industry.

Now that we know who the three finalists will be, I can hardly wait to hear what they have to share about their projects in Boston. The suspense and enthusiasm is great for the industry. I hope you’ll make plans to hear what these talented young people are planning for their future in it!

2010 Green Energy Challenge Finalists’ Presentations
Saturday, October 2
2 p.m.
Room 52A and B, BCEC

Sep 13

University of Washington Wins First Green Energy Challenge

Following presentations from the three Green Energy Challenge finalist teams yesterday, the entry from the NECA student chapter at the University of Washington was selected as the winner. The results were announced at the NECA Student Chapter Summit today.

University of Washington 1st Place in Green Energy Challenge

Oregon State University placed second, and The Pennsylvania State University was third.

UW team leader Joey Berger was also recognized for his excellent presentation skills.

“I have a great deal of admiration for all the work the student teams put into their projects,” said Challenge juror Tim Ehmann, a senior project manager with Rochester Solar Technologies. “They brought a fresh perspective to some of the major work going on in electrical construction today.”

Penn State 3rd Place in Green Energy ChallengeOregon State 2nd Place in Green Energy Challenge

A full report of the Green Energy Challenge submissions will be available from ELECTRI International soon. More information about the Green Energy Challenge can be found on NECA’s website.