The Energy Overseer

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Arthur O'Donnell was for over three decades an award-winning reporter specializing in energy, environment and economics. His books include: In  the City of Neighborhoods (iUniverse 2004) The Guilty Environmentalist (Trafford 2003) and Soul of the Grid (iUniverse 2003). For beginning readers, When Chelsea Came to Stay (Trafford 2004), co-written with Tess Kelly, with illustrations by Sophia Varcados.

Use this link to find a list of my books and articles for sale via

From 2008-2010, I was Executive Director of the Center for Resource Solutions, a globally influential environmental non-profit group that created and administers the Green-e independent certification of renewable energy and carbon offsets.

Currently, I work at the California Public Utilities Commission as a Program Supervisor in the Energy Division's Grid Planning & Reliability section. I work with a team of analysts and engineers charged with developing and implementing policies and practices for Grid Modernization, Smart Meters and Home Area Networks, Advanced Energy Storage, and other innovative areas.

What's New in 2014

I'll be making some industry conference appearances to talk about my assigned areas of energy policy at the CPUC , including these recent and upcoming appearances:


On September 8, 2014, I'll be joining an expert panel of Utility and Energy Thought Leaders for an exploration of "Market Options Impacting the Electric Systems of the Future" at the National Renewable Energy Labs, in Golden, Colorado.

Then, for Energy in California from Law Seminars International, September 15, 2014, in San Francisco, I'll be on the stellar faculty for this annual event, broadening the review of energy storage policies to give an update on Smart Grid and new Tech issues we're facing at the CPUC.

From the Wayback Machine

This feature ties together current headlines with past reports I've done, to provide context and perhaps show that there is nothing new under the Sun. Click here for more....

September 2014

Public Parklands Overrun with Illegal Marijuana Farms

There are stories that journalists call "evergreen", meaning they can be refreshed and rerun just about any time. There's a subcategory of seasonal evergreens, which are stories that seem to recur about the same time each year, and younger reporters are assigned to try to add some currency to the old tales. One of the California late-summer evergreens is an "expose" of illegal marijuana farming on remote state and federal lands, often linked to Mexican drug cartels to add that illegal alien element.

One reason for the timing of these stories is that drug enforcement agents wait until just before harvest to swoop in with helicopters, machetes and sniffing dogs. That make for better photo ops and heavier weight counts so the "street value" of the seized hemp can be inflated.

Still, any hikers who inadvertantly stumble onto an illegal operation in the deep woods have cause for concern about their safety if caught by armed guards.

Back in 2007, while serving as editor for E&E's Land Letter, which had public lands as its primary beat, I followed one joint state-federal operation to eradicate marijuana in California's North Coast parks.

Join Operation Alesia here.

Over the course of a long and varied career as an independent journalist, author, record producer, environmentalist and sometime political activist, I've been blessed to work with many wonderful people on worthy and fun projects. Looking back over the years, here are a few that I recall most fondly and proudly:

Click on the images above and learn more





Appearances 2013 2012 2011
California Current
Greenwire 2004-2007
Restructuring in a Rear View Mirror
Land Letter 2006-07
Return to Power Road
KZAM Reunion
Roadie for the Kinks...

Several of my older articles about energy issues and related topics continue to draw interest and response from readers, so please feel free to browse through this list of popular items:

The Clean Tech/Regulatory Nexus

Intersecting Circles of Innovation

Non-Profit Congress 2006: A Statement of Grace in an Era of Indifference

Bruce-onomics - A Buyers' Market for Springsteen Tickets?

Restructuring in the Rear View Mirror and Story Archive

Courtroom 22, PG&E Bankruptcy 2001

Nuclear Power According to the Simpsons

The Guilty Environmentalist's Home Inefficiency Tour

Sounds of Silence at Hunters Point

Light Bulbs: An Even Better Idea

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For information about speaking availabilities, call 415-648-9405