Around the Industry - Oct 19, 2012

Oct. 18, 2012
Commerce department affirms tariffs on China solar cells; A123 plants bought by Johnson Controls; GE Lighting wins Graybar award; and more.

Commerce Department affirms tariffs on China solar cells

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) announced its affirmative final determinations in the anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells imported from the People’s Republic of China. DoC determined that Chinese producers and exporters have sold solar cells in the United States at dumping margins ranging from 18.32% to 249.96%. DoC also determined Chinese producers and exporters have received countervailable subsidies of 14.78% to 15.97%. The department said in a factsheet released Oct. 10 that it will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposts and bonds equal to the dumping margins, less a subsidy rate. Further enforcement will depend on a final determination from the International Trade Commission, due by Nov. 23.

A123 battery plants bought by Johnson Controls

A123 Systems, a high-profile manufacturer of batteries for electric vehicles and other markets, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week after plans for $450 million in funding from Chinese auto-parts maker Wanxiang Group fell through. A123 received nearly $256 million in public funds under the Bush and Obama administrations. Johnson Controls, Milwaukee, said it plans to buy the company’s automotive plants for $125 million and will provide $72.5 million to continue A123’s operations for the car market. A123 is also the largest supplier of lithium-ion batteries to the utility market, with products gaining traction in energy storage for wind and solar power production. A report from Bloomberg News said Wanxiang Group is still interested in acquiring A123, and that the bankruptcy filing could help clear some legal hurdles to the deal.

GE Lighting wins Graybar award

Graybar Electric Co., St. Louis, recently presented GE Lighting with its Supplier Excellence Award on Oct. 11. The award was presented at Graybar’s national training conference in San Antonio, Texas. The Graybar Supplier Excellence Award is presented semi-annually to recognize a product supplier that has collaborated with Graybar in an exceptional manner to successfully grow profitable business together.

UL withdraws certification for fire-resistive cable

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) reported in September that it would no longer offer certification for fire-resistive cable, electrical circuit protective systems and circuit-integrity cable testing conducted in accordance with UL 2196 Test for Fire Resistive Cables. The decision was based on UL’s internal test results taken from a wide array of current products and systems originally certified to UL 2196. Results showed inconsistencies in achieving the two-hour fire resistive ratings of UL 2196.

Furthermore, UL was unable to confirm any reaction between the zinc found in rigid metal conduit and fire-resistive and circuit-integrity cables. As a result, manufacturers are no longer authorized to place the UL mark on fire-resistive cable and circuit-integrity cable. UL has removed its certification directory, Electrical Circuit Protective Systems constructed with Fire Resistive Cable. Certification will remain on hold while UL’s relevant technical committee (UL 2196 STP) determines appropriate next steps. In the meantime, UL will be offering an interim certification program for fire-resistive cable and circuit-integrity cable in accordance with UL 2196.

WESCO to shut 3 Maine branches

A report in the Bangor Daily News says WESCO International, Pittsburgh, will close three branches operated by its Standard Electric Supply in Ellsworth, Rockland, and Waterville, Maine. The article said WESCO’s Bangor and Portland stores will remain open.

Cooper and Danaher to sell Apex Tool Group to Bain Capital

Cooper Industries and Danaher Corporation announced that they have signed a definitive agreement to sell Apex Tool Group to Bain Capital for approximately $1.6 billion, subject to post-closing adjustments. Currently, Cooper and Danaher each maintain a 50% joint venture ownership interest in Apex. Apex markets tools for the construction market under several dozen brands such as Crescent, Jobox, Lufkin and Weller.

Grainger sees sales increase 8% in 3Q 2012

W. W. Grainger Inc., Lake Forest, Ill., reported an 8% sales increase for its 3Q sales to $2.3 billion, but also announced that during the third quarter it had recorded a $70 million pre-tax reserve for a settlement in principle to resolve pricing disclosure issues relating to government contracts with General Services Administration (GSA) and United States Postal Service (USPS). The proposed settlement, which covers 12 years of sales to the GSA and 10 years of sales to the USPS, remains subject to the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In addition, the company has established a $6 million pre-tax reserve for resolving tax, freight and miscellaneous billing issues with these government customers.

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Ryan said in the press release, “We delivered a solid quarter, with stronger organic sales growth in September than in August and continued to gain market share, expand margins and generate nearly $100 million in operating cash flow over the prior year. We are also resolving an ongoing dispute with the GSA and USPS and are pleased to be near final settlement with the DOJ. We value our long-standing relationship with these important federal government customers and look forward to continuing to expand the products and services we provide to them in the future.”

Rexel promoting Measure My Energy monitoring system at UK solar show

A report at the UK’s says Rexel is promoting an online portal at the Solar Power UK trade show in Birmingham, England, that allows users to track a building’s use of water, gas, power (down to appliance level) and temperature level and display its total energy cost and carbon footprint.

Robroy gets IDEA Platinum Level Band of Excellence

Robroy Industries, Verona, Pa., was honored with IDEA’s Platinum Level status for the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW) Bands of Excellence. Electrical manufacturers receiving the Platinum Band have provided the marketing content for 75-100% of their stock products. The product marketing content for specification documents, attributes, images and descriptions all must be populated with data.

Steve Sokolow, IDEA chairman and chairman of the board, Leviton, “We introduced the IDW Bands of Excellence program to honor the manufacturers that are providing exceptional value and marketing support to their trading partners. Since the program began, the marketing content in the IDW has more than tripled. We are excited for the new opportunities that will open for all companies involved in this effort.