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Want to Schedule Your Electricity Use to Reduce Pollution? Here's How

Some of us occasionally feel the urge to turn off the kitchen/porch/office light as our small step towards addressing global climate change. A Berkeley PhD student – Gavin McCormick – has started a nonprofit to provide information on exactly how our...

Posted September 10, 2014    

Identifying the Best Ways to Increase Energy Access

NPR ran a story a couple months ago about a seemingly clever device. It’s called the Soccket. The name – and the device – combines soccer with electricity.The Soccket – created by a US-based NGO and distributed around the developing world – allows...

Posted August 6, 2014    

Open Sourcing Risky Business

A lot of the policy discussion, and many of our blog posts, focus on the difficult task of trying to slow climate change. It’s useful to remind ourselves of the difficulties associated with NOT slowing climate change.Last week, Michael Bloomberg,...

Posted July 2, 2014    

An Energy Efficiency Parable

Here’s a story that captures a lot of the challenges we face as we try to improve energy efficiency. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t have a happy ending, but I’m holding out hope for the sequel.Many of us leave our work computers on 24/7 – estimates...

Posted May 21, 2014    

Will Smog in China Spur Climate Solutions?

I have read a number of news stories about air pollution in the major Chinese cities recently. A soupy smog of particulates, ozone, sulfur and nitrogen oxides hangs over Beijing, Tianjin and other northern cities. The concentration of particulate...

Posted April 22, 2014    

Why Aren't We Talking About Net Energy Metering for LEDs?

The fights over net energy metering have gotten loud and heated. For those of you who have missed the drama, here, in a nutshell, is what “net metering” means. Say I install enough solar panels on my roof to provide about half of my electricity over...

Posted March 19, 2014    

How Much Energy are We Flushing Down the Drain?

California is in the middle of a drought. In the Bay Area, that has meant day after day of glorious, uncharacteristically sunny winter weather. But, I am haunted by media images of dry creek beds and by my own mental images of driving by the Rim...

Posted February 26, 2014    

Would a Nest Help My Family Save Energy?

Since my husband and I both work in the energy industry, we often exchange energy-themed gifts. He has given me energy books (my favorite was American Power by Mitch Epstein filled with beautiful art-shots of power plants), power plant trading cards...

Posted December 26, 2013    

Smart Meters, but Dumb Pricing? Not in Sacramento

Smart meters are supposed to give you more control over your electricity bills. As a PG&E customer, I can log onto a website and look at our household smart meter data, which shows our consumption hour-by-hour. That’s how we learned just how...

Posted November 20, 2013    

How California's K-12 Schools Can Teach Us About Energy Efficiency

California has long been a leading indicator of national energy-efficiency trends. The state passed minimum efficiency standards for refrigerators in 1976, 11 years before the federal government adopted similar standards. And, the recent Corporate...

Posted October 30, 2013    

Energy Policy, Sunk Costs, and Driving Decisions

Do people who buy more expensive vehicles drive more? At first, the answer to that question seems obvious. Within a certain income group, people who are going to spend a lot of time in their cars are willing to invest more – get those leather seats...

Posted September 25, 2013    

What's the Point of an Electricity Storage Mandate?

An aptly named picture – the “duck graph” – is captivating the California energy policy world. It depicts electricity demand net of projected renewable generation (“net load”) on a representative day in the not too distant future.The Duck GraphOne...

Posted July 31, 2013