Efficiency and conservation have become well-established elements of the green power movement, and, in that regard, smart meters have become one of the primary tools to help consumers and utilities do their part.
In the years that renewable power has been fighting for market competitiveness, overcoming the high capital costs compared to conventional energy sources has always been the big challenge. Now, for at least one form of renewable energy, it appears that challenge may have been met.
Most utility reserve margins are adequate to meet peak demands. That is the assessment of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) as the nation has hit the summer months in which heat can strain supplies.
To say the least, project labor agreements (PLAs) have been a controversial issue for the construction industry. And like many controversial issues, debate and partisanship sometimes leads to the unfortunate consequence of delaying much-needed jobs.
Strict regulations to limit the toxic air emissions from coal-fired plants in the United States are working. Many utilities striving to meet these tighter standards are finding they can’t afford the high costs of upgrades and retrofits to their aging facilities.
The protracted climb out of the recession continues with modest, incremental improvement. Residential construction remains the main drag on overall construction, but improvement appears to be on the horizon. However, growth will not come quickly nor with great fanfare.
Projects to build and expand broadband networks often bring construction to established neighborhoods, challenging project owners and contractors to build underground networks with minimal disruption of routine activities and limited surface damage.
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.
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).
The light up ahead is an oncoming train. New demands are adding to the existing growth in security and safety. The burglar/fire alarm industry continues to grow, fueled by advancements in computing technology and Internet protocol (IP) devices, software, cellular and smartphones.