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....

August 2014

Northeast Blackout Remembered

(NASA photos below)

This month marks the 11th anniversary of the 2003 Blackout that covered much of the Northeast U.S. and Canada in darkness. Experts are still learning lessons from that event, and our energy policies are still trying to solve some of the problems that spurred this incident.

Shortly after the blackout, I shared my own "lessons learned" exercise, about journalism's difficulties in covering technical issues:

Black Holes in Blackout Coverage Sept. 26, 2003

July 2014

Yosemite Marks 150th Anniversary as America's First National Park

In 1864, America did something unprecedented by setting aside a portion of its most beautiful and valuable lands for the enjoyment and edification of its citizens. On June 30, 1864, while the nation was still engaged in a bloody Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln established the Yosemite Grant, preserving forever 39,000 acres of California's most spactacular scenery (since expanded to 760,000 acres) for America's first and, arguably, most popular National Park with over 3.5 million visitors annually.

Ever since, Yosemite has been subject to extreme use, and the tension between preservation and public access continues to this day. Back in July 2005, as Western correspondent for E&E's Greenwire, I spent some time in Yosemite, documenting the attempts of Park management to meet requirements of the Wild and Scenc Rivers Act on the Merced River, while accommodating public demands for more amenities in the Park. Many of the issues raised in that article continue to this day, although an attempt to reach compromise appears to be working for the benefit of future generations of Park visitors.

Find the July 15, 2005, article here.

Then about two years later, in May 2007, I revisited the Park management's attempts to implement the Yosemite Valley Plan, despite lawsuits and adverse actions. See The Land Letter article 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