The Energy Blog – by Andy Silber

Welcome to Andy Silber‘s Energy and the Environment Blog at Sustainable West Seattle. Let me start with letting you know a little bit about myself and what I hope to accomplish with this blog.

  • First education. My studies have been as a physicist, with a bachelor’s from U.C. Berkeley and a Ph.D. from MIT. Physicists look at energy they way that accountants look at money. We track it, we count it, and when the numbers don’t add up, we know that something interesting is happening (though it usually isn’t embezzlement in our case). Even in high school I was interested in energy policy, devouring articles in Omni Magazine on how micro-fusion plants were only 20 years away. Thirty years later they’re now 40 years away, a sign of the progress we’ve made in estimating how difficult a problem fusion is.
  • Next experience. In 2001 the Cheny Energy task force was meeting and purposing very stupid ideas. During the ENRON driven energy crisis Cheny was actually discouraging conservation, while the people of California cut power consumption 10% overnight. I felt that action at the state level was our only hope for the near term and that led me to found the Energy Committee of the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club. We worked on supporting windfarm development in the face of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) opposition, commenting on utility Integrated Resource Plans, and building connections with other groups. A major effort for us was Initiative 937 that requires most Washington electric utilities to get 20% of their energy from renewables by 2020. We were involved from the decision to try for an initiative, to writing the initiative, to collecting signatures (my infant son and I got 1,400 signatures), to working for its passage.

Until recently energy policy has been a hobby, not a profession. In September I accepted a position at Seattle City Light in the Conservation Resource Division. At some point I’ll write a blog posting about my project. I’m learning a lot about what it takes to actually make things happen and what the barriers are. Sometimes there are good reasons why good ideas are harder to accomplish than they should be. That’s also something I’ll be writing about. One thing I want to make abundantly clear is that I’m not writing as a representative of Seattle City Light. The thoughts in this blog are my own.

I’ll be writing about energy conservation, renewable energy, policy, and maybe even politics. If there are particular issues you’d like me to write about, drop me a line at

(Editor’s note:  Andy Silber is also a founding member of Sustainable West Seattle and has a long-standing interest in both energy systems and transportation systems.  This is the first of what will be a continuing Blog on Energy.)

1 reply
  1. Bill
    Bill says:

    Hi Andy.

    Thanks for writing for the SWS webpage. I don’t think its immediately obvious how to get to these blog entries from the front page….



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