The Electrical Blog

Berwick Electric at the US Olympic Training Center

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Mon, Feb 17, 2014

The buzz surrounding the Olympic Games is palpable; years of training and sacrifice culminate in competition as the world watches. But what the world may not always see are the teams of people devoted to creating and maintaining the training facilities -- world-class training environments.

Image of Cathy Starr at USOTC
BEC Foreman Cathy Starr on the USOTC Campus in Colo. Springs

With the U.S. Olympic Training Center in its backyard, Berwick Electric Co. (BEC) has had the opportunity to help maintain the best training environment possible for both national and international athletes.   We recently had the privilege of chatting with BEC Foreman Cathy Starr about her experience installing a Mass Notification System on the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) Campus in Colorado Springs.

Berwick Electric Co. (BEC): Describe your work at the USOTC.
Cathy Starr (CS): We are currently installing the first non-military mass notification system in Colorado Springs. In the event of an emergency, this system allows all of the buildings on campus to communicate with each other, and it also provides immediate lock-down areas for added security. We’ve been working on the installation on and off for about four and-a-half years. We are just about to finish the ninth building, and we have about one more year until the job is complete. The current project has been the smoothest; we’re kind of in the zone after updating so many buildings.

BEC: How does the mass notification system work?
CS: This system is actually part of the fire alarm panel, and it’s integrated with the fire alarm speakers and strobes. One system functions both as the fire alarm and the mass notification system. It’s pretty intricate.

Image of Umberto "Junior" at USOTC
BEC Electrician Umberto, a.k.a.
"Junior", completes wiring at the USOTC.

BEC: You seem very passionate about your work. What are the things that captivate your interest?
CS: To me, it’s all interesting. It’s fun to observe all of the different cultures and activities that collide on the USOTC campus. During the time I’ve been here, wrestling teams from China, India, and Sweden have visited.  Working with the staff here is also a very pleasant experience. It makes life very easy.

I also like that I get to deal with so many people throughout the day. From contractors, HVAC technicians, and painters, to electricians and the USOTC’s maintenance staff, I enjoy interacting with so many different trades. Working in a variety of locations is also interesting. No two days are the same. I also enjoy working with fire alarm systems -- safety is important!

BEC: What is it like to work in an Olympic training facility while the winter games are taking place in Sochi?
CS:  Well, the athletes who train here are the summer sports athletes; I don’t know of any athletes from this area who are in Sochi. However, a lot of the USOTC staff are in Sochi now, so it will be interesting to hear all of their stories when they return.

When we were on the USOTC campus during the last summer games, there was a lot of energy and tension. Everyone was very focused, as they should be. It’s exciting to be around that kind of energy! I feel very fortunate to have had the experience of working at the USOTC.


To learn more about the electrical services provided by Berwick Electric Co., click here.

Topics: Project Updates, Service Department, Community

Power Quality: Why it Matters

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Mon, Feb 10, 2014

When poor power quality creates problems, the effects can be nothing short of disastrous -- especially for small businesses. Voltage fluctuations and power failures can cause shutdowns, data loss, equipment damage, and ultimately valuable time and money. Curious about how you can protect your business or home? Keep reading for some common Q&A’s about power quality.

Image of power quality in a business
Excellent power quality helps your business run smoothly and efficiently.

Q: What is power quality?
A: Essentially, power quality is how well the available electrical power is distributed to consumer devices and how well that power functions.  Great power quality allows the systems to function at their intended capacity. Generally, you only notice power quality when something goes wrong.

Q: What causes poor power quality?
A: Although there are a variety of factors that can contribute to poor power quality, a common cause is something called “harmonics”. “Harmonics are electrical signals at multiples of the power line frequency, which occur when there are many personal computers, adjustable speed drives, and other equipment that draws current in short pulses,” Berwick Electric Co. (BEC) Power Quality Manager Tim Prime explained. “While harmonics don’t directly cause computer problems, they do affect the power distribution system.” Common symptoms of diminished power quality include voltage fluctuation and devices that aren’t operating at maximum capacity.

Q: What is the best way to solve power quality problems?
A: Although power quality issues are frustrating, they are solvable. To help remedy tough power quality issues, BEC’s professionals perform on-site surveys of existing electrical installations, including system and equipment grounding, load capacity evaluation, and determination of the presence of harmonics.

“Proper grounding, dedicated circuits, and power conditioning can solve difficult power quality issues,” Tim said. “In-depth understanding of technical factors and specialized monitoring equipment allow BEC to detect and recommend solutions to each customer’s power quality problem.

If you think your business or home could use a power quality tune-up, we encourage you to contact Berwick Electric Co. at 719.632.7683 or visit us online to request  service.


Topics: Service Department, Community

Behind the Scenes: BEC at Memorial Hospital

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Jan 29, 2014

A lot goes on “behind the scenes” at a hospital. Although the coordination of various hospital workers, doctors, nurses, patients and schedules is pretty obvious, you might not always notice the complex, electrical processes that sustain the hospital itself. Keep reading below to learn more about BEC’s opportunity to work in this exciting area.

Raising the Roof: Electrical Upgrades

Image of boiler project at Memorial Hospital
A BEC electrician works on the boiler project at MH.

When it comes to wiring a hospital, BEC’s electricians can compete with the best. In one current project, BEC electricians are working to upgrade the electrical system at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo. One aspect of the upgrades includes switching out two of the hospital’s massive boilers. “In order to replace the boilers, we actually have to remove part of the roof from the building,” Project Foreman John Luther explained. “This makes for a very interesting day on the job.”

In addition to unique building challenges, project success also requires detailed coordination with other trades. “To me, everything we do is interesting,” John said. “It’s always a challenge to efficiently coordinate with the other trades on the job. We have foremen meetings almost daily, and we use CAD drawings and software like Bluebeam to help things run smoothly. Our crew also uses iPads to work out details with the other crews on a job.” Working well with the other trades on a job is a must, and BEC makes every effort to stay up-to-date on the latest industry standards.

BEC electrician Ray Rincon works on the air handler project at MH.
BEC Electrician Ray Rincon works
on the Air Handler Project at MH.

While working to upgrade the hospital’s boilers, BEC’s team is also involved in a multi-phase project to replace the air handler units. “These air handlers facilitate all of the air changes for the north part of the hospital,” BEC Electrician Ray Rincon explained. “It’s a great, challenging project.”

Containing Construction

Working on electrical upgrades is only one aspect of BEC’s current work at Memorial Hospital; the ambitious company is also completing electrical wiring for the construction of a new pharmacy inside of the hospital.

“Working on a construction project inside of an operating hospital is a challenge. You really have to take extra measures to ensure that germs and construction particles aren’t spread throughout the hospital,” John explained. “One way we accomplish this is by creating a negative air pressure inside of the construction area. This keeps dust and other particles contained.” Innovative problem solving is a staple of project success.

There truly never is a dull moment on the job at Memorial Hospital. BEC’s electricians genuinely enjoy the challenge of strategically implementing state-of-the-art upgrades. To learn more about BEC’s construction capabilities, click here.

Topics: Project Updates, Service Department, Community

Three Electrical Considerations for Home Repair

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Fri, Jan 24, 2014

Planning a home renovation or remodel can be an exciting time. It’s your opportunity to implement the changes that will make your home into your “dream home.” But before you can make your dream a reality, it’s important to make solid plans. To help your planning process run smoothly, here are three electrical considerations to keep in mind.

 Image of Home Remodel Plans
Here are some electrical tips to
help your home remodel run smoothly.

1. Plan your budget accurately. Despite your best intentions, it’s easy for a home renovation budget to spin quickly out of control. “Before beginning a home renovation project, take the time to research and make a very detailed budget,” Berwick Electric's Service Manager said. “Give yourself some wiggle room with your budget, as it’s common to run into unexpected costs,” he added. “Make sure that your budget is something that you can realistically support.”

2. Make sure that your electrical panel will accommodate extra breakers. Depending on the size of your renovation or addition, you may need to add breakers to your existing panel board. “Before starting a home remodel project, you want to make sure that your electrical panel is up to code, and that it has the capacity for extra breakers and is capable of handling the additional load to be added,” he explained. “Some older panel boards, such as FPE and Pushmatic, aren’t capable of being code compliant. The current code mandates that panel boards accommodate arc fault breakers,” he continued. “Since arc faults are known to cause house fires, these types of breakers were developed to be safer.”

3. Decide if you need to add extra circuits. In addition to analyzing your existing electrical panel, take the time to determine if you need to add electrical circuits. “An electrician can help you decide if your existing circuits have adequate capacity to support any additional electrical load from your home addition,” he said. “

If you are planning to renovate or add to your home this year, make adequate plans ahead of time. Although the electrical is just one component of turning your home into your “dream home,” it is an important one. We hope that these tips help provide you with the framework you need to get started. If you have any questions about home electrical wiring, we encourage you to contact us. In the meantime, happy planning!
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Topics: Service Department, Community

Baking for a Cause: Special Kids Special Families

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Thu, Dec 12, 2013

What could be sweeter than a delicious bake sale to brighten up the middle of a busy work week? Yesterday, Berwick Electric Co. employees had the opportunity to participate in a bake sale fundraiser for Special Kids Special Families (SKSF). The bake sale was a smashing success; each yummy item was snatched up, making the sale a total sell-out!

Image of bake sale
The SKSF bake sale at BEC was a total sell-out!

SKSF is a local non-profit that aims to provide support to families who are raising youth and caring for adults with developmental disabilities and special needs.  In response to a need for such community services, SKSF offers respite care, specialized foster care, adult day programs, and family preservation services. Since it was founded in 1998, SKSF has grown to be an integral part of the Pikes Peak community.

As part of SKSF’s Give! Campaign, the non-profit chose to focus on building relationships within the community. And baked goods are a great way to do so! All proceeds of the bake sale fundraiser went to Zach’s Place, SKSF’s respite care center. Zach’s Place offers active, structured, and free play while teaching important life and socialization skills.

BEC was pleased to take part in SKSF’s Give! Campaign. To learn more about the specific services that SKSF offers, please visit

Topics: Service Department, Community

Save Money with a Home Energy Audit from CSU

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Tue, Dec 10, 2013

image of a house
Evaluate your energy costs with a home audit from CSU.

With the holiday season in full swing, chances are that the last thing on your “to-do” list is a home energy audit. But as soon as we turn the corner into 2014, you may want to consider ways to reduce your home energy costs.

To help you accomplish this, Colorado Springs Utilities offers a complimentary home energy audit, and it only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. This audit is designed to help you identify any areas in which you may be wasting money on inefficient energy usage.

To learn more about this free service, please visit the Colorado Springs Utilities website, or click here.

Topics: Service Department, Community

Embracing Gratitude: BEC is Thankful for You

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Thu, Nov 28, 2013

Today is a day to pause and reflect on the many blessings that you, your friends, and your family encounter on a daily basis. Waking up to another day is an opportunity to express gratitude for things large and small, and maintaining a grateful heart is actually shown to reduce stress and boost health. Below, you will find some thoughts from BEC staff members about what they are thankful for, as well a special blog reader offer! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  

“I am thankful for Berwick Electric Co., who has provided me with 36 years of steady employment.” Because of this, I will be able to retire at the age of 58.”
    -Clay Gafford, project manager

“I’m thankful to have the Lord in my life. And, I’m thankful for a healthy family since my daughter has overcome her breast cancer.”
    -Susie Kellogg, accounts receivable specialist

“I’m thankful for our employees and the culture of respect, honesty, and professionalism that they have helped create and maintain at Berwick Electric Co. For three generations, it has been the employees that continue to build our reputation. I feel blessed to be surrounded by individuals who have become my second family and shareholders who strive to perpetuate this incredible culture.”
    -Doug Berwick, owner/treasurer

And now, to express our gratitude for our blog readers and customers, here is a special offer just for you. Click on the image below for a printable version of the coupon.


Image of Thanksgiving 2013 Blog Offer

Topics: Service Department, Community

Christmas Decorating Safety Tips

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Fri, Nov 22, 2013

Like many other Americans, the day after Thanksgiving may be your chosen time to decorate for the holidays. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, roughly 200 people per day are injured during the holiday season. To help you avoid becoming one of them, we've put together some very simple tips to help keep you safe this season. Simply click on a photo in the gallery below for a Christmas décor safety tip!

If you have any other helpful safety tips, we encourage you to share them in the comments box below! In the meantime, safe decorating!


Topics: Service Department, Community

Three Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Tue, Nov 12, 2013

As the days grow shorter with the approaching winter season, chances are that your energy bill may grow as well. If you’re not already using energy-efficient light bulbs, now is the time to make the switch. New energy standards, which were rolled out in 2012, call for light bulbs to use 25 percent less energy than traditional, incandescent light bulbs. Using inefficient light bulbs is like choosing to throw money away, and who wants to do that? To help you avoid this pitfall, here are three energy-efficient light bulbs to replace incandescent bulbs.

image of energy efficient light bulb
Energy-efficient CFLs use about 75% less
energy than incandescent bulbs.

1. LED light bulbs. LED stands for light emitting diode, and these bulbs work by using semiconductors that convert electricity into light. According to, LED light bulbs average about 75 to 80 percent energy savings over their lifespan, and they last up to 25 percent longer than incandescent bulbs. To learn more about how to choose an LED light bulb, click here.

2. CFL light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lamps, known as CFLs, utilize a long tube fluorescent light that is wound up in the bulb. In his article on CFLs, William Harris explains that CFLs are more energy efficient, because they use an entirely different mechanism than incandescent bulbs to create light. Instead of the glowing filament that is used in incandescent bulbs, CFLs use argon and mercury vapor in a spiral-shaped tube. A ballast in the bulb creates an electric current that passes through the vapor and creates ultraviolet light. Next, the ultraviolet light stimulates fluorescent coating on the outside of the bulb, which then emits visible light. These bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and, according to ENERGY STAR, if every home in America swapped out just one incandescent bulb for a CFL, we would save about $600 million in annual energy costs.

3. Halogen light bulbs. In terms of energy efficiency, halogen light bulbs are somewhere in between incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Designed to replace inefficient incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs use a gas from the halogen group. This article explains that when the gas in halogen light bulbs heats, it combines with atoms from the tungsten filament. It then deposits them on the filament, enabling the filament to last much longer than an incandescent bulb and averaging an energy savings of about 28%. To learn more about energy-saving halogen bulbs, click here.

When it comes to saving energy on lighting costs, making the switch to energy-efficient bulbs is a must. And, with new energy standards and a variety of bulbs from which to choose, the switch has never been easier. For more insight on which bulbs might work best for you, check out this article from The Daily Green, which compares the light quality of LED, CFL, and halogen bulbs. In the meantime, we hope you choose to light your life wisely!

Topics: Service Department, Community

A Day in the Life of an Electrician: Michael Lucas

Posted by Tonia Nifong on Wed, Oct 16, 2013

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work with electricity all day? Today we have the pleasure of taking a peek into the average day for BEC Electrician Michael Lucas, a.k.a. Lucas. From juggling a busy schedule to working safely with electricity, Lucas rarely has a dull moment!

Image of Electrician Michael Lucas
 BEC Electrician Michael Lucas

Berwick Electric (BE): How long have you been an electrician?  
Michael Lucas (ML): I’ve been an electrician for a total of eight years; four of those years were spent as an apprentice, and I’ve been a journeyman electrician for the last four years.  Before I was an electrician, I was in theatre for 12 years. Very different industries! The apprenticeship is essentially your schooling as an electrician. The next designation after journeyman electrician is master electrician. This designation enables an electrician to do more design and build work, which is more focused on the technical aspect of the electrical process.

BE: What do you like about your job?
ML: There are a lot of things that I enjoy about my job! As a service driver, I enjoy the challenge that each different job provides. No matter what the electrical job is, I really enjoy meeting new people; there are a lot of fun people out there! Whether I’m hunting down a loose neutral, or installing an outlet or a switch, I generally enjoy what I do. I also like the fact that you really have to know what you’re doing. Working with electricity is dangerous; if you’re not careful, there’s always the possibility of injuring yourself or others. Electricians have to be smart workers while watching out for other people. The electrical field is always growing, so there’s always something new to learn.

BE: What is a typical morning like for you?
ML: Well, my mornings are pretty average. I usually arrive to the shop early to enjoy a cup of coffee, talk with the guys, and finish any paperwork from the previous day. After that, I’m usually out in the service van on my way to the day’s jobs. It’s not necessarily exciting, but that’s generally how a typical morning goes. Once the day starts, the morning and the afternoon tend to blur together. I usually get in the zone, and the days fly by.

BE: What are some of the challenges of your job?
ML: Being an electrician is definitely a challenging job. Solving electrical problems can be like playing detective. For example, if a loose neutral is causing a problem, finding the loose neutral can be quite a challenge. A loose neutral is literally a neutral wire that has gone loose somewhere in the house and is wreaking havoc with the voltage in the rest of the house. These aren’t easy to find, as they can be located in the switchbox, an outlet, a light fixture, in the attic, in the panel, at the meter, or even out by the city. As an electrician you really have to think logically in order to figure it out.

Balancing a busy schedule can also be interesting. Emergencies often pop up, and you have to find creative ways to deal with them. In one such case, a large, telecommunications facility lost power to an entire building when one transformer blew and took two other transformers with it. We had to figure out a way to get the building up and running in a safe, temporary manner until we could find a permanent solution.

BE: Do you have any funny stories from your service calls?
ML: One time a customer and her husband thought that their garbage disposal had quit working. They purchased a brand new garbage disposal and called me to wire it. In the process, I discovered that their current garbage disposal simply needed to be reset. Many people aren’t aware that most garbage disposals have reset buttons on the bottom. When a garbage disposal is too full, the motor has trouble moving and it overheats (called thermal overload). Usually all you have to do is push a reset button!

Another time I solved an electrical problem for a customer in five minutes. Because she paid for an entire hour, I asked her if she needed help with anything else. She handed me a broom, and I swept the kitchen and dining room.

BE: What does continuing education look like for electricians?
ML: After the four-year apprenticeship (or 8,000 hours of on-the-job training), you can go on to become a master electrician. There are also a wide variety of specialty certifications that you can obtain, such as motor controls, photovoltaic solar panels, working with hot gear (while the electricity is active), and many more. You really have the opportunity to specialize in one niche, or you can become a “jack of all trades.”  


If you need quality, reliable electrical service, contact Berwick Electric Co. at 719-632-7983. You can also click here to request service online.

Topics: Service Department, Community