Electrical contractors see more work as Big Apple starts WTC rebuilding efforts

Plans to rebuild the World Trade Center are still being firmed up, but one project has been approved and is steaming ahead.

E-J Electric Installation Co., a Long Island City, N.Y.-based electrical contractor, recently won the electrical contract for the first phase of No. 7 World Trade. E-J built and maintained the World Trade Center's security system and will now set up all the pipe and conduit needed to run the electrical, telephone and security service to feed the building.

“I am happy because this project puts us back down at Ground Zero,” said Jim Usher, vice president of E-J Electric Installation Co. “All we've talked about for a year and a half is destruction. Now rather than cleaning it up, we are actually starting to rebuild. It should be exciting. I think it will do a lot for New York.”

Seven teams of architects and designers unveiled their visions for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center on Dec. 18. After an extensive public outreach campaign, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. will announce the master plan on Jan. 31. Con Edison, however, has spent the past year working to rebuild No. 7 World Trade, which housed several substations.

“If business returned today to where it was pre-9/11, there wouldn't be enough power down in Lower Manhattan,” Usher said. “ConEd needs two-and-a-half years from start to finish to get these substations built and online. That's why they wanted to get this project going so quickly. Otherwise, this job would have been delayed another year or two.”

Due to the slowing economy, IBEW Local No. 3 mandated that all New York City union electrical contractors must lay off 10 percent of their union workforce each month in order to equally distribute the work load. While it looks good on paper, the furlough has adversely affected the electrical contractors, the electricians and the clients, Usher said.

“It's a nightmare just trying to do the scheduling,” Usher said. “Even though you have work, you're still being told you have to do it (layoff workers). It's kind of hard to swallow at times.”

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