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:






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....

November 2014

Like a comet that graces the skies on a cyclical basis, a California governmental reform agency is revisitng the nature of energy regulation, calling for changes and possible reform of the California Public Utilities Commission. The Milton Marks Commission on California Government Organization and Reform -- more popularly known as the Little Hoover Commission -- has for several decades been trying to consolidate California energy agencies. Hardly anyone listens, but they keep trying. The most recent Little Hoover Commission report, issued in late October, calls for a moratorium on passing new energy legislation in the state until a comprehensive energy policy is crafted. Oh, and by the way, it said, the State should consider whether the CPUC is really up to the challenge. The report found a need to review "whether governance structures designed decades ago are nimble enough to tackle a rapidly evolving, technology-driven electricity system" and questioned whether "a more modern approach might improve accountability and transparency."

Actually, the reorganization effort never goes anywhere, and anyone who thinks California really needs another energy policy is as out of touch as this commission thinks the CPUC might be. However, the question of how much our Legislature, Governor and Agency imposed policies might cost us is always a worthy query.

Over the years, I've frequently reported about the Little Hoover Commission and Legislative attempts to reorganize or consolidate energy agencies. In this Bottom Lines column from 1991, I explored the history of the CPUC and its sister agency, the California Energy Commission. "Needed, Regulation to Fit the Times" CEM, April 1991

And more recently, I recounted attempts to pull together the many threads of California's multiple energy policies in this California Current column, called "Roadmaps and Rearview Mirrors" from February 2012

Finally, there's the question of "The Cost of Doing Good Things" and "What's All This Going to Cost?" also from Current in 2007, with specific reference to Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Reduction policies.

Maybe you have an answer....

October 2014

Loma Prieta Earthquake 25th Anniversary

October 17, 1989, would have been an historic day in the San Francisco Bay Area even if there was not a massive, deadly earthquake. The SF Giants and Oakland Althletics were just about to start the first and only Bay Bridge World Series when, at 5:04 pm, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake rumbled up the Loma Prieta fault. Dozens of persons died, and electricity and natural gas service was cut to over one million in Pacific Gas & Electric territory.

These two articles from California Energy Markets newsletter capture the immediate impacts and provide a sense of the long-lasting reverberations from the Loma Prieta quake, now 25 years ago.







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