Chuck Ross

Freelance Writer

Chuck Ross is a freelance writer and editor who has covered building and energy technologies for a range of industry publications and websites for more than 25 years. He specializes in building and energy technologies, along with electric-utility business issues.

Articles by Chuck Ross

September 2012
With commercial and residential business still lagging in many parts of the country, electrical contractors seeking a bottom-line boost may find better luck in municipal and institutional projects. Owners in this sector often are more concerned about lowering long-term operating costs than short-term payback and are investing in large-scale energy-efficiency upgrades. READ MORE
August 2012
U.S. solar-panel manufacturers might be hurting these days, but installers’ business is going gangbusters. In 2011, more than 1,800 megawatts (MW) of utility, commercial and residential capacity were installed, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), more than doubling 2010’s record figure of 877 MW. READ MORE
July 2012
The commercial construction market, in general, remains anemic, with one exception: data centers. Not only are we all buying more data-transmitting smart-phones, tablets, web-connected televisions—and, yes, even PCs—we also are moving data from our own hard drives to remote “cloud” servers. READ MORE
July 2012
Electric utilities, especially those owned by investors, are odd ducks in our capitalistic society. Because they are state-sanctioned monopolies, their profits are regulated by public utilities commissions (PUCs). In many jurisdictions, they are required to encourage their customers to buy less of their product and have been given specific demand-reduction goals and deadlines. READ MORE
June 2012
After engineer David Kaneda’s firm moved into its own self-designed zero-energy building, an analysis of the zero-energy claim revealed that their photocopiers, printers, clock radios and coffee pots were threatening efforts to make the building self-sustaining. “plug load” is The hot topic in the energy-efficient building design field these days. READ MORE
June 2012
Energy efficiency is often the ugly stepsister in alternative-energy conversations because quantifying its potential effect is difficult; how do we determine the real value of all those avoided kilowatt-hours? READ MORE
May 2012
U.S. electric utilities are installing huge numbers of advanced electric meters across the country. These devices promise to enable new demand-response and time-of-use pricing schedules and improve overall distribution system performance. READ MORE
April 2012
When the economics of residential solar panels are up for discussion, the phrase “grid parity”—meaning the point at which solar-generated electricity is as cheap as the energy the local utility supplies—can quickly dampen enthusiasm. Though installed costs are dropping, critics say upfront expenses and extended payback periods still stand in the way of broader adoption. READ MORE
April 2012
One of the biggest challenges transmission-network operators face in integrating large-scale solar and wind farms into their operations is the variability of these natural resources. A passing cloud or a lull in the wind can wreak havoc on a transmission system, as can the generation peaks that occur when the sky clears again or the wind picks up. READ MORE