NEMA to Get More Serious About Energy Efficiency, Says New Chairman Powers

Feb. 28, 2008
Larry Powers, CEO, Philips Business Unit, Professional Luminaires North America, talked about his goals as chairman of the National Electric Manufacturers Association’s board of directors for 2008 and the integration of Genlyte into Philips Lighting’s global lighting empire.

Larry Powers, CEO, Philips Business Unit, Professional Luminaires North America, talked about his goals as chairman of the National Electric Manufacturers Association’s board of directors for 2008 and the integration of Genlyte into Philips Lighting’s global lighting empire.

Q: Philips’ acquisition of Genlyte was an interesting deal. How is it going?

A: Genlyte’s integration into the Philips company is going very well. Philips is a very technology-driven company and a leader in lamps, ballasts and LEDs. The company is also the leader in luminaires in Europe and Asia. With the addition of Genlyte, Philips Lighting will become the largest lighting company in North America to include lamps, ballasts, LEDs and luminaires.

Q: How are distributors reacting to the acquisition of Genlyte by Philips?

A: Every distributor that I have spoken with thinks the acquisition of Genlyte by Philips is a very good thing. They believe as I do that it will accelerate the introduction of new energy-efficient lighting technology into our channel.

Q: What are some of your goals for NEMA during the upcoming year?

A: The major goal that I have set for NEMA is for us to get serious about energy efficiency. We will do everything we can to emphasize the importance of promoting energy efficiency to the government, regulatory agencies, our members, and everyone in the electrical industry. All of us at NEMA are completely supportive of the green movement and we discuss it regularly and we will do all that we can to move it forward. We are also working hard to try to help prevent counterfeiting in our industry, which has become a very serious problem. We have published a brochure and white paper on counterfeiting and are trying to make everyone aware of the seriousness of this problem. Many unsafe products are being sold, and we want to do everything we can to stop this. We are working closely with other trade associations around the world to promote safe electrical products.

Q: Are there any new areas where NEMA will be focusing its lobbying efforts in the near future?

A: NEMA will continue to work hard in promoting energy efficiency and safety. We are trying to stop all of the individual states from having their own electrical standards, because it’s very expensive and difficult to administer. All of the standards should be national. NEMA will continue to lobby to try and stop counterfeiting. Many of these products are coming in from the Far East and we must do everything we can to stop them. NEMA will also be lobbying to promote candidates for state and federal offices that promote a business-friendly agenda. The association works hard to promote manufacturing in the U.S. and we can’t be burdened with rules and regulations that make us noncompetitive in the world.

Q: What will be the drivers of the green market five years from now? Government incentives? Competition (among end-users’ companies) based on efficiency? Energy prices?

A: All of these factors. We need some help from government to encourage more people to embrace new technology and move faster to use the new energy-efficient products that exist today. As an industry, we will continue to introduce new and more efficient lighting products to include on a very large scale LEDs. We need to demonstrate that replacing and using the new energy efficient technology is a good value proposition. You may have to pay a little more initially, but you will get a good return on your investment and help the green movement.

Q: Are distributors in a good position to influence and help grow this market?

A: Distributors are close to the end users and they need to have knowledgeable people who can sell the energy story. They should take advantage of all the training that is available and become energy experts. They need to be calling on and promoting energy-efficient products to contractors, specifiers and end-users. Electrical distributors should work closely with their manufacturing partners and determine who is going to do what to grow this very important market. New construction is going to be soft over the next few years, and what better way to grow your business than to get out in the market and sell energy efficiency?

Q: Will you be stepping up your effortsto provide distributors with green marketing and promotional materials ?

A: Yes. Every new product we introduce will have an energy efficiency story behind it. We have aggressive new product introductions planned to utilize all of the new energy-efficient lamps and ballasts including LEDs.

Q: Which technology — fluorescent or LEDs — do you expect to see become the predominant source for general lighting?

A: Many products will be available that utilize the latest lamp and ballast technology. They will include both fluorescent and LEDs. There is no question that the LED market is going to explode over the next few years. It will soon be available in lighting fixtures for general illumination. So far, LEDs have been only in products for niche applications. That’s going to change in a hurry. LEDs will be the dynamic growth market over the next five to 10 years.

Q: What could NEMA be doing to drive greater adoption of energy-efficient technologies and promoting electrical manufacturers as leaders in energy efficiency?

A: NEMA will have a new website later this year where individuals can find information on energy-efficient lighting. The NEMA website will refer individuals to the various company websites so they can easily find information about energy-efficient products. NEMA continues to promote energy-efficient products to our government and lobby for good legislation to promote energy savings. I can assure you that we will do everything we can to promote the green movement and energy-efficient products to everyone we can influence — government officials, regulatory agencies, all NEMA members and everyone in the electrical business.