The story of civilization is the story of energy, says Michael Webber. In fact, all the major technological advances of the last several hundred years have followed advances in the harnessing of energy.

But as always, the devil's in the details. If we manage energy wisely, we thrive. If not, we die. 

Webber tells the story in Power Trip: The Story of Energy


California state government has gone big into energy-efficiency programs and is resolved to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The City of Arcata is going a step or two further.  Arcata recently enacted new energy standards for buildings that are more stringent than the state requirements, at least for now. 


If you're skeptical about the world moving to new forms of energy, just remember that some people probably had doubts about any fuel replacing wood. 

We have a long history of ways to keep our houses warm and lit.  And Pulitzer prize-winning author Richard Rhodes takes in a lot of that history. 

His book is Energy: A Human History.  From wood to coal, from horses to steam to internal combustion, from burning fuels to capturing the son, the book takes it all in. 

Brian Robert Marshall, CC BY-SA 2.0,

It's doubtful that anyone ever turns on a light in California and thinks about the Independent System Operator

But the ISO provides oversight to the power grid in California, to make sure the country's most populous state always has electricity available.  Now there's a proposal, backed by Governor Jerry Brown and others, to share oversight of the grid with other western states. 

That has drawn criticism from a number of groups.  But it is praised by others, including the Union of Concerned Scientists

Synergy Green Builders

One of the many options for reducing your utility bills is the installation of a ductless heat pump. 

It's like the old heat pump that heats and cools your home, but... ductless. 

A short-term program called Energize Rogue is set up to help people buy the ductless heat pumps at reduced cost, in Jackson, Josephine, and Douglas Counties. 

Spark Northwest is part of the effort, and Allied Comfort Pro handles installations. 

Austin Jenkins/Northwest News Network

Marijuana cultivation is estimated to use one percent of America’s electricity output. That’s enough juice to power 1.7 million average homes.

And as more states make the drug legal in some form, that power consumption is expected to soar. Northwest energy officials project cannabis grows will suck up three percent of the region’s power by 2035. 

Now, efforts are underway to get growers to reduce their energy use.

Get Electricity: Go Fly A Kite

Apr 29, 2016

  Maybe you've seen those small wind turbines mounted close to the ground in rural areas.  

  And maybe you've noticed that they don't seem to turn terribly fast, even in windy conditions.  That's true, because the faster winds are higher up. So go fly a kite: tethered kites might provide more, and more consistent, electricity.  

Power Conservation Heads Off Construction

Mar 14, 2016
David R. Tribble/Wikimedia

Between electric cars and mobile devices, you'd think our electricity consumption would be heading up sharply.   

But new devices are so energy efficient--think LED lights, for example--that we're holding the line.

In fact, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council reports that the Northwest can meet its energy needs for the next 20 years with no new power plants, thanks to conservation.

Energy Evolving On The North Coast

Sep 9, 2015
Pink Sherbet Photography

It's not just how we produce energy that is evolving. 

Our thinking about how we use it and channel it, share it and sell it is also changing with time. 

Which is no surprise to either the Redwood Coast Energy Authority or the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University. 

Both are in the vanguard of efforts to transform our thinking and use of energy. 

Redwood will be represented at an environmental law conference coming to Eureka Friday. 

Gas And Its Costs This Winter

Oct 17, 2014
Marina Burity/Wikimedia

Quite a few of us heat our homes with natural gas in the winter. 

And winter is not far away. 

So how much can we expect to pay for the heat this year? 

It can vary a bit from year to year. 

So we'll visit with a rep from the American Gas Association

The Workings Of Clean Energy Works Of Oregon

Oct 7, 2014

You hear over and over again that you can save a lot of energy--and bundles of money--by making your home more efficient. 

Okay, so you beef up the insulation and install more modern windows.  Now what? 

Clean Energy Works of Oregon is in the business of answering that question.  It is a non-profit dedicated to improving "home performance." 

Bonneville Power Administration Told To Fix Hiring

Oct 11, 2013

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden says problems with hiring practices that discriminated against veterans and other applicants at the Bonneville Power Administration must be fixed as soon as possible.

Wyden, who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, says he met with the head of the Department of Energy to discuss how to get the BPA back on track.

A report from the U. S. Department of Energy's inspector general was released earlier this week. It blasted the BPA for consistently manipulating the rating process for applicants and subjecting whistleblowers to retaliation.

A History Of Solar Energy-A LONG History

Oct 1, 2013
Pink Sherbet Photography

Don't be too impressed with solar panels on your roof.

Photovoltaic technology may be relatively new in human history, but a lot of lower tech preceded it. 

Civilizations as far back as ancient China found ways to make maximum use of the sun's power in their homes and lives.