Energy Matters

“Energy Matters” is a monthly column  on energy related issues published in the Islands’ Weekly and hopefully in other local papers as well in the near future.

Click on the titles to read the full articles.

A Grand Experiment: Transition Initiative October 2011 by Faith Van De Putte

“Imagine a community, imagine a world . . . where how we live nourishes the earth, helps people realize their potential, and creates joy in community.”
This is the audacious premise and enticing invitation of the Transition Fidalgo…

The Island That Could  September 2011 by Faith Van De Putte

Could San Juan county cut energy usage by 50%, produce 50% of its own energy, and grow 50% of its own food within 15 years? This challenge concluded former Silicon Valley executive and newly elected OPALCO board member Vince Dauciunas’ July 8th lecture at the Lopez Library on the regional effects of climate change. It turns out that there is an island akin to ours, which rose to a similar challenge over 10 years ago…

Climate change and implications for San Juan islands  August 2011 by Chom Greacen

As concentration of carbon dioxide continues to climb and ice caps melt at an alarming rate, we can’t help but wonder how our lives in the San Juans will be affected.

At the Climate Change lecture series held last month at the Lopez Library, Vincent Dauciunas shared research findings from leading institutions in the field with a packed room of interested Lopez residents…

Home Energy Savings and Health July 2011 By Douglas Poole

As I go about my work of providing home energy assessments and retrofits here in the
islands, I frequently come across clients that are concerned with houses that are “too
tight”. Building techniques over the past 20 years have certainly changed, and the fear
of an inadequately ventilated home is valid. It can also be misunderstood by many
homeowners… so let’s do a little myth-busting…

Neighborhood electric car that could be yours June 2011 By Chom Greacen and Lopez Community Land Trust

For her 75th birthday Kay Keeler rode 33 miles in the Tour de Lopez and raised $6,000 to support the Farm and Garden Program at the Lopez School.

A few weeks later, Keeler was in Lopez Village and walked by a little yellow electric GEM car with a FOR SALE sign on the window. She quickly scribbled a note for the owner – saying, “I want to buy your car. Come for dinner and let’s talk.” …

Bringing local power to the people May 2011 By Chris Greacen

The islands are making impressive gains in food that is locally produced. Working together, we can do the same with electricity, building clean renewable energy generation that is distributed across islanders’ homes, business, and farmlands on the islands. By doing so, we take local, practical steps to increase our energy independence, alleviate global climate change, and lessen the need for nuclear power as well as demands on our region’s limited hydropower resources…

Homes on Lopez That Make More Electricity Than They Consume? Fact – Not Science Fiction April 2011 By Chris Greacen

Did your energy bill put a big dent in your wallet this past winter? What if your home actually produced more electricity than it consumed? Despite an unseasonably cloudy and wet year, between 16 March 2010 and 15 March 2011 four homes at the Common Ground community on Lopez actually did just this. The homes are those of Karan Yvonne, Faith Van De Putte, Donna Hasbrouck, and the family of Chom, Chris, Ty and Sara Greacen…

Meet the Lopez Energy Challenge Winners March 2011 by Chom Greacen

The First ever Lopez Energy Challenge concluded last December with clear winners. The couple of “Take-it-or-Leave-It” fame, Neil Hanson and Ona Blue swept awards in all the three main categories: “Biggest usage reduction”, “Smallest energy footprint” as well as “Best energy conservation story”…

How Many Lance Armstrongs would it take to power your home? December 2010 By Chom Greacen

At Lopez Elementary School, students gained some good biking muscles trying to keep the lights on!
How? Thanks to a bicycle generator put together by Kent Schaefer, kids in Alex Nelli’s science class and Dale Shreve’s homeroom learned that they could power lights, a boombox, pencil sharpeners, fans, motors, an electric piano, or a combination of the above, with their own little legs.

Home Performance November 2010 by Douglas Poole

Home.  It’s a word heavy with connotation, a word containing a world of personal significance.  A home should be a place of comfort and a source of strength, rejuvenation and health.  While most of us have a strong emotional connection to our homes, we usually don’t consider the scientific system designed for our comfort. When a Home Performance evaluation is used for your home, the rigors of science optimize your home’s performance.
Energy challenge comes to Lopez October 2010 by Jane Fox
A challenge has been issued to Lopezians. A challenge that is supposed to be as fun as it is informative. A challenge that, if completed, could mean lucrative prizes. All you have to do is care about how much power you use to make tea and toast.

So what’s my incentive? September 2010 by Doug Poole

The cast of characters here at Energy Matters suffer from a clear obsession for saving energy. We acknowledge, however, that our readers may not be quite as motivated by the stirrings of his or her inner geek. You might not experience the same sense of elation from capturing rays of the sun to power your world. There is, however, a universally motivating factor in the realm of saving energy.  Money.

My Energy Detective Hero August 2010 by Chom Greacen

He is a man on a mission. He is obsessed. He is ruthless. He is my hero!  Meet Reuben Deumling, Energy Detective Extraordinaire, our good friend who recently visited Lopez.He has hawk eyes, honed to detect energy leaks. He snoops out excesses and has a persistent knack for tweaking appliances and dwelling so they require the least energy input. When it comes to killing waste, he is ruthless…

Small measures can make a big difference July 2010 by Doug Poole

Whether you find inspiration through altruism, pragmatism or economics, now is the time to develop a thriving and local energy economy.As previously discussed in our Energy Matters column, our community needs to cut the islands’ electricity consumption growth to zero to avoid more expensive “tier 2” power prices. This month we’ll look at ways to conserve electricity with direct and simple measures that you can begin right away. Your efforts will be rewarded and really do add up.

A Time of Crisis and Opportunity June 2010 by Chris Greacen

It wasn’t long ago that the business model that made sense for our cooperative power utility, OPALCO, was to sell as much electricity as possible. The wires and transformers that deliver the electricity cost about the same regardless of whether you’re consuming 5 or 500 units (kWh) a month. Utilities like OPALCO have high fixed costs (wires, transformers, etc.) and the more electricity they sold, the more these fixed costs could be spread out, leading to lower rates.

Energy Matters May 2010 by Chom Greacen

We used to live in a simpler world. It was a world in which we were blessed by an abundance of cheap hydropower and fossil fuels. It was a world in which our pursuit of low-cost electricity and fuel was not complicated by our mounting impact on the environment, natural resources and habitat– a world of seemingly endless economic growth and opportunities.
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