The Electrical Blog

Tonia Nifong

Recent Posts

A Peek Inside BEC's Service Vans: Bringing You Excellent Service

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Sep 10, 2014

Have you ever spotted a Berwick Electric Co. service van driving around town? If you live in the Colorado Springs area, chances are that you have. BEC’s service drivers respond to a wide variety of electrical needs, including large and small residential and commercial jobs.

Today we invite you to take a peek into one of our service vans, driven by BEC Electrician Buddy Lowther. Buddy has been in the electrical industry for 15 years, and he genuinely enjoys what he does! Buddy takes pride in his work, and likes getting to know the wide variety of customers with whom he interacts on a daily basis. As you will see in Buddy’s van, BEC’s service vans are fully stocked to meet a wide variety of electrical needs. Click on the photos below to take a tour of Buddy's service van.

When it comes to delivering great service to our customers, quality, safety and integrity are Berwick Electric Co.’s top priorities. To request service, click here.

Topics: Service Department, Community

Why You Should Reconsider DIY Electrical Projects

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Fri, Aug 29, 2014

It’s easy to see why DIY, or do-it-yourself, home projects are so appealing; we all want to save time and money. And while saving time and money are certainly important, safety should be the ultimate priority. Today, Berwick Electric Co.’s  safety manager Bill Tuten shares top safety pitfalls for DIY projects, and why you should consult an expert. Stay safe and read on!

image of electrical wiring
Safety should be the first priority of any electrical project.

1. Lack of knowledge. It seems that there are “how-to” resources for just about everything these days. But just because you can “Google” something or look up a quick how-to video on YouTube, that doesn’t mean you are equipped to carry out the project alone. “DIY projects are very popular right now,” BEC Safety Manager Bill Tuten explained. “However, even the DIY television channel stresses the importance of consulting a professional. Although you may think you are fixing the problem, you may in fact be solving the wrong problem,” he added. “You want to approach any DIY project with a professional knowledge base.”

2. Working on an energized circuit. The first step in any DIY electrical project is to de-energize the circuit you are working on. Again, this is where professional knowledge comes in. “Before working on an outlet or any kind of wiring, it’s important to test and make sure that it is, in fact, not live,” Bill explained. “It is possible to accidentally turn off the wrong breaker, so you want to double check before working. A voltage tester can be used to check whether or not an outlet is still energized. Also, the breaker box needs to be secured. Communicate to family that the breaker box should be left alone throughout the duration of the project. Lock it out if you can.”

3. Working on an unsecured ladder. Many homes have vaulted ceilings or elevated outdoor light fixtures, requiring a ladder to reach and repair them. Although it seems obvious, ladder safety bears repeating. “Never stand directly on top of an A-frame ladder. Only step up to the second ladder step from the top. Warning labels are on the top and one rung below the top that says, ‘NOT A STEP,’” Bill said. “You should also always make sure that a ladder is secure before using it, as well as ensure that you are using the right ladder for the task at hand. Never use an all-aluminum ladder when working with electricity. Wood or fiberglass ladders are the safest to use when working with electricity.”

4. Ignoring electrical code. Although some jobs, such as finishing a basement, may seem simple, it’s important to make sure the electrical work is done to code. “If you don’t know the codes, or the work isn’t done to code, you could end up dealing with overloaded circuits,” Bill explained. “And this could lead to a fire hazard situation. Always consult with an electrician about how many amps your home has and what you can and can’t do. You may need a power upgrade in order to continue the project safely.”

5. Not grounding properly. If your project involves underground cabling, call a professional. “It’s imperative that projects with underground cable are properly grounded. Often times, people want to run an underground cable from the source to a barn or workshop outside of their house,” Bill said. “First, call a professional to do the locating. A professional should also be consulted about the proper type of cable and grounding. Most DIY-ers don’t know about grounding. If grounded properly and something does go wrong, the grounding directs the electricity into the earth, so that you don’t get electrocuted. Grounding is important.”

We hope that these DIY safety concerns have convinced you to consult a professional before starting any home project. To consult with a qualified Colorado Springs electrician or request service, call 719-632-7683. You can also request service online here.
New Call-to-action

Topics: Service Department, Community

FPE Panels No Longer Insured by Home Insurance Companies

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Thu, Aug 14, 2014

Does your home have an electrical panel manufactured by Federal Pacific Electric (FPE)?  

After receiving reports that FPE panels failed to comply with Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) requirements, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) began an investigation to determine the safety of these panels. Because the investigation did not produce enough data to conclusively determine the safety of FPE panels, the CPSC closed its investigation in 2011.

Image of FPE Panel
An FPE Panel

Even so, most home insurance companies will no longer insure homes with FPE panels, which can be a major problem. If this is you or somebody that you know, Berwick Electric Co. offers free estimates for the installation of a new panel, new interior or a possible retrofit.

In the meantime, the CSPC advises that consumers take the following safety precautions with all circuit breakers and fuses*:

1) Panels should be labeled indicating what outlets, lights or appliances they control.

2) Never overload any electrical circuit by connecting too many products to the circuit. Be particularly careful not to connect several products that demand high current (such as heating appliances) to a low-amperage circuit.

3) Comply with local building codes in wiring or adding electrical circuits. Make sure the wiring and devices used in the circuit are connected to a circuit breaker or fuse of the proper size.

4) Immediately disconnect any electrical product if problems develop. Have the product examined by a competent repair person.

5) Investigate to determine why a fuse blows or breaker trips; it is often a warning that the circuit is overloaded. Check the circuit for causes of overloading (for example, too many appliances plugged in, a malfunctioning product, a short circuit). When in doubt, consult a licensed electrician.

If you would like information about updating your electric panel, give us a call at 719-632-7683 or request service online. We are happy to help!

*Excerpted from the CPSC press release #83-008. To read the full CSPC press release, click here; or, to read an article about recognizing hazardous electrical panel conditions, click here.

Topics: Service Department, Community

Employee Spotlight: Meet Drivers Josh & Jake

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Aug 06, 2014

Quality, safety and integrity are core values here at Berwick Electric Co. (BEC), and we are pleased to spotlight the employees who integrate these values into what they do every day.

Today we invite you to learn more about BEC Warehouse Drivers Josh Maul and Jake Koster, who deliver much-needed materials to a variety of jobsites throughout the Pikes Peak Region.  Whether the jobs are commercial, industrial or datacomm, BEC’s warehouse drivers help us to provide you with excellent electrical service. Read more below.

Image of BEC Warehouse Driver Josh Maul
Driver Josh Maul

BEC: Are you both Colorado natives?
Josh Maul (JM): Yep, I’m originally from Colorado Springs.
Jake Koster (JK): I was born in Maryland, but I’m from a military family. My dad was stationed here in Colorado Springs and retired here, so I pretty much grew up in the Springs.

BEC: If someone were to follow you around in your job for a day, what would a typical day be like?
JM: Well, it’s very straightforward. We pick up supplies and other job materials and then deliver them to jobsites. We typically visit an average of three to four jobs every day. We spend a lot of time coordinating deliveries and in the car.
JK: That pretty much sums it up. I help Josh out all day.

BEC: What do you enjoy about your job?
JM: I really like being out and about. No two days are exactly the same.
JK: Same here. I really like not being inside all day. I also really like the people that I work with; I really like getting advice from them, because I’m young.

Image of BEC Warehouse Driver Jake Koster
Driver Jake Koster

BEC: What are some things you like to do outside of work?
JM: I like to do anything in the mountains. I enjoy hiking and biking. I also volunteer with the fire department, and I really enjoy that.
JK: I enjoy working out, long-boarding, playing video games and going on dates with my girlfriend.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about our drivers. They are an integral part of the work we do, and we are pleased to have drivers with such great work ethic!

If you are looking for trust-worthy electrical service, call us at (719) 632-7683 or click here to request service online.

Topics: Service Department, Community

Building the Future: 2014 Scholarship Awarded

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Thu, Jul 24, 2014

Both Berwick Electric Co. (BEC) and the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region have been integral parts of the local community for decades, and BEC has the privilege of offering an annual scholarship to one worthy high school senior who is involved with the YMCA. We recently had the honor of awarding this year’s YMCA James D. Berwick Scholarship program recipient, Kaylee Marquez, with the much-deserved award.

A 2014 graduate of Palmer High School, Kaylee plans to major in criminal justice at The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in the fall. She has been a member of the YMCA since she was 11 years-old, and she became a YMCA lifeguard in April 2012. “I have gained valuable life experience during my time at the Y,” Kaylee explained. “I always enjoyed the programs and the friendly atmosphere that the YMCA presented. I have also learned valuable lessons such as the importance of patience, acceptance, caring, teamwork, leadership and responsibility.”

YMCA BEC Scholarship Recipient
Palmer High School graduate Kaylee Marquez
receives the 2014 YMCA James D. Berwick Scholarship.

Kaylee’s involvement with the YMCA has given her the opportunity to work with people from a variety of backgrounds. The YMCA’s partnership with the Deaf and Blind School provided Kaylee with the opportunity to work with this population, influencing her decision to minor in American Sign Language.

The YMCA provides an excellent environment for youth development. We are pleased to award Kaylee with this year’s YMCA James D. Berwick Scholarship, and we wish her the best of luck with her studies in the fall.


Topics: Project Updates, Service Department, Community

VA Clinic Set to Open in August

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Thu, Jul 17, 2014

Image of COS VA Clinic under construction

After over a year of hard work on the new Veterans Affairs Clinic, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took possession of their new clinic, owned by US Federal Properties, on June 12. Located at the corner of Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street in Colorado Springs, Colo., the 96,000 square-foot clinic, with a maximum occupancy of 1,322, is set to open for services in mid-August. With the clinic’s opening, veterans can expect state-of-the-art medical care set against awe-inspiring views of Pikes Peak; the famous peak is framed by the clinic’s elevator lobby atrium.

Berwick Electric Co. (BEC) is proud of its involvement in installing the variety of electrical, data communications, life safety and security systems associated with the new clinic. Those who have given so much for our country will have access to radiology/biomedical, counseling, behavioral health, rehabilitation, physical therapy, optometry, audiology, dental and pharmaceutical services. “There were a lot of additions to the project, and yet we were able to finish on time with no added delays,” Jacobsen Construction Superintendent Markel Massey explained.

To help meet the diverse client needs, visitors will check in at one of six kiosk units in the main lobby. From there, they will be directed to the appropriate services area of the building; each suite has its own reception and waiting area.

Image of VA Clinic Coffee Shop Entrance

All of this activity will be supported by a 3,000 amp 277/480 volt electrical service, including nine electrical rooms, an emergency generator for the smoke evacuation system, mechanical equipment and a sophisticated lighting control system, as well as other electrically-related items. The electrical service will also support the radiology suite, which includes three x-ray rooms, MRI, CT, and mammography equipment and site lighting.

For the majority of the project, BEC General Foreman John Travers oversaw a very challenging, on-site electrical installation. Great thanks go to BEC General Foremen Dale Butterfield and Dylan Alley, who contributed detailed technical systems support and finished the project when John was pulled to start another project at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. Throughout various stages of the project, BEC Foremen Ryan Hurless and Eric Norman provided additional supervision and support. Several other key members of the installation included BEC Electricians Glenn Kapu, Matt Hall, Travis Smith, Amber Weems, Roger Ross, Lynn Cleveland, Jonathan Fugate, Dan Sternthal, Tony Pisaneschi, Brian Miller, Brian Riggs, Collan Krzywonski, Zach Williams, Nathaniel Cinocco, Josh Rincones, Tyler Patzner, Michael Fernandez and Paul Heinzen.  

The VA Clinic’s data communications system is supported by six large data communications (DataComm) rooms that boast extensive copper and fiber cabling. BEC’s DataComm Division team, led by Shane Gebbink and Paul Brumley, did an excellent job overseeing the installation. BEC DataComm Technicians Anita Ternyak, Ken Brumley, Wade Sims and Tyler Lundgren completed installation work that is said to be the best and neatest designs that the VA Information Technology professionals have ever seen.

BEC Electrician Tobi Collins spearheaded the installation of the fire alarm system, as well as the integration of the sophisticated smoke evacuation system. The smoke evacuation system, which is controlled by the fire alarm system, proved to be a challenge to install. Controlled by the fire alarm system, the smoke evacuation system is also integrated with the mechanical, door security, and door operator systems; it's quite a sophisticated system.

BEC’s contract also included security systems, mostly subcontracted by BW Systems. The installation included access control, motion intrusion detection, hardwired duress, wireless duress and a few select, monitored area security cameras. “System pathways and power connections could not have been better; their (BEC’s) attention to detail is phenomenal,” Steve Cress of BW Systems explained. “This challenging project was made much more manageable due to the excellent leadership and quality work provided by Berwick Electric Co. The Colorado Springs VA Clinic project required a tremendous amount of up-front and ongoing engineering to provide systems that would integrate with the primary head-end system located at the Denver VA facility,” he added. “As the team leader, Berwick coordinated the much-needed customer meetings to flesh out the details of the installation to provide optimum system integrity.”

BEC is proud of the excellent work contributed by its general foremen, foremen, electricians and DataComm employees.  BEC looks forward to the benefit that the VA Clinic will provide for the community; those who have served and sacrificed so much for our country deserve the best.

We invite you to take a peek at more of the new clinic by clicking play on the slideshow below.

Topics: Project Updates, Service Department, Community

10 Fun Facts about Electricity

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Fri, Jun 20, 2014

Electricity is a staple of modern life. Beyond lighting rooms and powering devices, electricity is pretty interesting! Here are some fun and interesting facts about electricity.

Image of lightning

1. Electricity travels at the speed of light -- more than 186,000 miles per second!

2. A spark of static electricity can measure up to 3,000 volts.

3. Lightning is a discharge of electricity in the atmosphere. Lightning bolts can travel at around 130,000 miles per hour and reach nearly 54,000 °F in temperature.

4. Electric eels can produce strong electric shocks of around 500 volts for both self-defense and hunting.

5. Have you ever wondered why birds sitting on a power line don’t get electrocuted? If a bird sits on just one power line it is safe. However, if the bird touches another line with a wing or a foot, it creates a circuit, causing the electricity to flow through the bird’s body. This results in electrocution.

6. Two positive charges repel each other, as do two negative charges. On the other hand, opposite charges attract each other.

7. Coal is the world’s biggest source of energy for producing electricity. Coal is burned in furnaces that boil water. The steam from the boiling water then spins turbines that are attached to generators.

Image of power line

8. Did you know that electricity plays a role in the way your heart beats? Electricity causes muscle cells in the heart to contract. Electrocardiogram (ECG) machines, used by medical professionals, measure the electricity going through the heart. As the heart beats in a healthy person, the ECG machine displays a line moving across the screen with regular spikes.

9. Electric fields work in a similar way to gravity. Whereas gravity always attracts, electric fields can either attract or repulse.

10. Benjamin Franklin carried out extensive electricity research in the 18th century, inventing the lightning rod amongst his many discoveries. In the event of a lightning strike, the lighting rod conducts the strike through a grounded wire, protecting the building.


Topics: Community

9 of the Punniest Electrical Puns

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Fri, Jun 13, 2014

Sometimes, you just need a good laugh. Just in time for the weekend, here are some of the silliest electrical puns we could find. We hope that you enjoy!

Q: What would a barefooted man get if he steps on an electric wire?
A: A pair of shocks.

A sun-tan lotion is a solar insulator.

The foolish gardener planted a light bulb and thought he would get a power plant.

A successful politician is a power transformer.

image of smile
Sometimes you just
need a good chuckle.

Wind power is very popular because it has a lot of fans.

Have you heard about the nuclear physicist who went fission (fishing)?

Q: What is an electrician's favorite ice cream flavor?
A: Shock-o-lot!

Watt are you doing?

You seem so well grounded.

If you’re looking for quality electrical service that you can trust, contact Berwick Electric Co. Give us a call at (719) 632-7683 or request service online by clicking here.


Topics: Community

4 Signs You Need a New Electrician

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Jun 04, 2014

It’s easy to find an electrician. It’s not so easy to find an electrician that provides excellent work at a great price. To help you separate the great from the not-so-great electricians out there, here are four things that should stand out as red flags.

image of electrician
Safety and cleanliness are
signs of a great electrician.

1. Lack of safety. If the electrician overlooks simple safety measures such as wearing safety glasses and maintaining a clean work environment, chances are that he or she may not be working in the safest manner possible. Attention to detail and safety are the mark of a great electrician.

2. The company charges you for an estimate. If an electrical company charges you for an estimate, it may be a sign that they aren’t looking out for your best interest. Complementary estimates are a sign of excellent customer service.

3. The company’s customer reviews aren’t up to par. Although this may seem obvious, it’s worth mentioning. Before hiring an electrician, take the time to do a bit of research.  Your local Better Business Bureau (719-636-1155), Angie’s List and Google Reviews are three good places to start. Look for a consistent trend of excellence in their reviews.

4. The company lacks integrity. In line with number three, a great electrical company works with integrity. Some signs of integrity include arriving to work within the expected time frame, returning phone calls promptly, honoring quoted prices, treating you with respect, answering your questions honestly, and overall, treating you the way they would like to be treated.

Quality electrical service is a priority at Berwick Electric Co. You can learn more about our service department by watching the video below. Also, check out our Ten Commandments of Customer Service -- our guarantee of what customers can expect from our staff and electricians.

If you’re looking for an electrical company that consistently delivers excellent work, we encourage you to contact us at 719.632.7683. You can also click here to request service online.   

Topics: Community

Community Partners: Special Kids Special Families

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, May 28, 2014

For Sarah, a single mom to a typically-developing daughter and a son with Asperger’s, Special Kids Special Families (SKSF) has been a life-saver. Because her son cannot attend traditional daycare, Sarah relies on respite care simply to be able to work. Her son is able to attend Zach’s Place, a program of SKSF, and Sarah is able to work and provide for her family.

Image of SKSF volunteer and child
SKSF provides important services for
special-needs individuals and their families.

Stories like Sarah’s are what make SKSF a vital part of the community.  Founded in 1999 by two mothers of special-needs children, SKSF has since grown to play an integral role in the community. In 2013, SKSF served 265 individuals. With a variety of programs to meet the individual needs of families, SKSF exists to promote, strengthen, and support individuals with disabilities and their families.

BEC assisted SKSF by remodeling and then leasing a portion of the Berwick office building for SKSF to use as their adult services facility; we enjoy sharing the same building with such a great organization.  As one of SKSF’s community partners, we encourage you to learn more about this important organization below.

A Helping Hand

One of the primary programs offered by SKSF, Zach’s Place is a day respite care that typically serves 15 to 22 children between the ages of two and 21 each day. Respite care is exactly that - a break or respite from providing care for another. Families are able to drop off their child, knowing that the child is in capable hands, so that they can run errands, attend appointments, or simply take a break. “We had a mom who came into Zach’s Place one morning looking very exhausted. When she returned looking refreshed, she explained that she had visited a day spa, taken a bubble bath and read a book,” SKSF Development Manager Gregg Doan explained.  “When she returned, she was ready to be a mommy again. This type of break is absolutely necessary for our parents to continue being great parents.”

Image of child at SKSF
Zach's place serves
15-22 children every day.

While at Zach’s Place, the children are not only looked after, but the well-trained staff also strives to help the children reach their full potential. “For those who are able, we try to get out in the community and participate in enriching activities. We also have a mix of both fun and educational activities for all of the kids, whether or not they’re able to be out in the community. Gregg said.  

The staff at SKSF is currently looking to expand the program. “Zach’s Place is one of two centers in Colorado that is licensed to provide childcare for children with disabilities,” Gregg explained. “We are currently in the initial phases of expanding the program to be able to serve more families.”

Unique Families, Unique Programs

In addition to children, SKSF also serves adults through its adult services programs. There are three main program branches of the adult services: Host Home, Joey’s Place and I-CAN. Host Home is essentially an adult foster care program. “We work with families that take in special-needs adults who have nowhere else to go,” Gregg explained. “This program is great, because these individuals are able to be a part of the community while living in the host home.”

Joey’s Place is for those individuals who stay in-house due to medical issues or other physical limitations. Although they don’t venture out into the community, they do take part in a variety of activities that teach them about other cultures, plants, arts and more.  

Image of adult services at SKSF
Adults in the SKSF program enjoy time in the community.

Those who are in the I-CAN program are able to get out into the community and volunteer. They often volunteer at Silver Key. “It’s important to realize that people with special needs have dreams too, and the I-CAN program is one way of helping them realize those dreams,” Gregg said. “Volunteering helps them to experience integration with others while also helping them to find purpose.”

Participants in both Joey’s Place and I-CAN are exposed to a wide range of programs. “We’ve held a variety of different classes from art, to dancing and yoga,” Gregg said. “Last winter, we hosted a dance presentation by local dance company Ballet Emmanuel, and they [program participants] just loved it,” he added. “One non-verbal young man in a wheel chair just about jumped out of his chair in response to the movement. Others who have a very hard time sitting still were in awe and calm. It was a very neat experience.”

Further, SKSF offers a program called SIBSHOPS for siblings of children with disabilities. “It’s often the case that these siblings don’t receive as much attention as the special-needs children,” Gregg explained. “Once a month, these siblings get together with one another as a means of support and also to celebrate what it’s like to be a sibling to a child with special needs."

Image: Playing with a parachute at SKSF.
SKSF hosts fun nights and themed parties.

To complement such great programs, SKSF also hosts teen nights and social fun nights at the adult center. Fun events like karaoke and seasonally-themed parties are just a few examples. “We have a youth group that has been volunteering at these events for the past couple of months, and it’s been great to see typically-developing kids form relationships with the special-needs kids,” Gregg said. “It’s one way of de-mystifying what life is like on both sides; the typically-developing learn about the special-needs kids, and vice-versa,” he added. “These fun nights are also another opportunity for parents to have time for refreshment. They can drop off their kiddo from 6:15 to 8:30 p.m. on a Friday night, go out for dinner, and then return to pick up their child.”

Education & Advocacy

SKSF is a multi-layered organization; in addition to serving those with special needs, it also aims to educate the local community. One way SKSF accomplishes this is through its KOSCOVE Kids program. Named after Koscove Metal, who generously donated life-size puppets with disabilities to the program, SKSF uses the puppets to help de-mystify what it’s like to live with a disability. For example, one puppet is in a wheel chair and has spina bifida. Many people don’t realize that for those in a wheel chair, the chair is actually an extension of that person.

“In the same way that you wouldn’t want somebody you’ve never met to walk up to you and touch your arm, a person in a wheel chair may not appreciate you leaning on or touching their wheel chair,” Gregg explained. “Another misconception is that all people with a disability want your help. In the same way that you’d ask another adult if it’s OK to help out with something, you should also extend those with a disability the same courtesy. Many of them are actually quite independent individuals.”

How to Help

Image of SKSF cooking activity
Donations enable SKSF's multifaceted programs
to continue helping those who need them most.

If you are interested in the work that SKSF does in the community and you want to help, there are many ways to get involved. Those interested in volunteering should contact Christy Haggard at (719) 447-8983 or

In addition to monetary donations, SKSF also relies heavily on in-kind donations. “It’s amazing how much donated items such as office supplies, puzzles and crayons help out. They really help us to keep money in our programs,” Gregg said. “Each program has a wish list posted on the website for anyone who wants to donate to a specific program. We are very privileged to be able to serve the community in the way we do.”

Interested in SKSF and want to learn more? You can find program specifics, as well as information on how to get involved at

Topics: Community