Who am I

Welcome to Andy Silber’s Energy, Environment, Project Management, Product Development and other random stuff blog. I’ve been blogging since 2010 at Sustainable West Seattle, but now I’m going rogue and starting my own site. Most of these posts are new but I’ll occasionally be brining in post I wrote for other sites.

Let me start with letting you know a little bit about myself.

Education

My studies have been in physics, with a bachelor’s from U.C. Berkeley and a Ph.D. from MIT. Physicists look at energy the 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.

Physics also has been a great background for my product development work. I’ve focused on how elements fit together and solving problems with no obvious solution, partnering as needed with electrical, mechanical, and software engineers. That approach led naturally to project management, in large part because I found that was often the missing ingredient needed for success.

Energy Activism

In 2001 the Cheny Energy task force was meeting and proposing very stupid ideas. During the ENRON driven energy crisis Cheny was actually discouraging conservation, while the people of California cut power consumption 10% almost overnight, significantly reducing the harm created by “The smartest people in the room“. I felt that action at the state level was our only hope for the near term and that led me to start 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 Collecting Signatures for I-937an initiative, to writing the initiative, to collecting signatures (my infant son and I got 1,400 signatures), to working for its passage. Initiative 937 was passed into and has successfully moved Washington State’s energy sources towards more renewables and conservation with none of the negative effects predicted by the opponents.

From 2009 to 2011 I worked at Seattle City Light in the Conservation Resource Division. I was program manager for the Powerful Neighborhoods energy conservation program, which targeted low-income and non-English speaking households with free energy conservation improvements, mainly compact florescent lightbulbs. We visited almost 13,000 homes installing over 240,000 CFLs. This program will save our customers over $4,250,000 over the life of the bulbs we’ve installed and save 40 million kwh.

Fiction

In addition to blogging, I’ve also dabbled in writing fiction. The Dinosaurs’ Last Roar is a collection of connected short stories taking place over the next century. There are floods, a secret government organization, a Mars colony, and fusion power. Governments fall and rise. All that for only a dollar.

What I do for a living

Rather than repost my lengthy and interesting career, you can check out my LinkedIn Profile. While energy policy and technology is a passion of mine, most of my career has been spent as an engineer or project manager working on product development. I’ve worked on medical devices, consumer electronics, and industrial equipment.  Some of product development posts here come from my time at PCS where I was Director of Project Management. I’ve started a project management/product development consulting firm, Fiat Veritas, if you need some help in that area.