Patrick Mazza

Patrick Mazza is an independent journalist-activist focused on climate and global sustainability. He was formerly research director at Climate Solutions, and a founder of the group. His blog is Cascadia Planet.

Business & Technology

Super Bowl blackout makes the case for smart microgrids

More than just a symbol of America’s decaying infrastructure, the Super Bowl blackout showed the vulnerabilities of a centralized power grid.

Clean energy conference weathers blackout with microgrid

Waking up in my hotel room across the street from the 13th annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference Monday, I hit the light switch.  Nothing.  I …

The carbon math – Western US ecosystems capacity to store carbon in future depends on emissions reductions now

How much carbon is stored in natural systems of the continental western US?  Over coming decades, how much of the fossil fuel carbon dioxide we …

Pacific Coast readies for climate superstorms to come

Literal grassroots leadership: The Soil Carbon Challenge

Sitting down to talk about his work to focus the climate-saving power of soil carbon, Peter Donovan starts off with a trick question. “What’s the …

Newly discovered super-advanced biocarbon device: anchovy poop!

(At the Northwest Biocarbon Initiative we are constantly on the hunt for ways to improve the carbon storage capacity of natural systems.   One of my …

Climate & Energy

Fires, droughts put focus on climate — but will we seize the moment?

Information won't lead to action without proactive planning -- the kind that requires cooperation between government, business, and other groups with a commitment to change.

A storm-resistant power grid?

On the verge of revolutionizing the U.S. power grid

Rachel Maddow, a kindred spirit whose heart beats a little faster at the word "infrastructure," has been campaigning recently for more infrastructure spending in the stimulus package. Pointing to the mass blackouts caused by Midwest storms, she asked the other day on her MSNBC show, "Can I put in a request for a grid that works, even in the snow?" Yes, Rachel, you can! What you want is a smart grid rich in distributed energy resources. First, it is important to be clear that we have two power grids: a transmission grid, which consists of the big lines carrying power from distant generating stations, and a distribution grid, which carries power in the local area to homes, businesses, etc. Failures on the transmission grid, that's T to us geeks, lead to the really big blackouts like that in the Northeast in August 2003. But most failures -- around 90 percent -- happen on the distribution, or D grid, and they are usually not well publicized. Electric Power Research Institute estimates that, overall, blackouts and other power disturbances cost the U.S. economy in the range of $119-188 billion (see p. ES-3 [PDF].) By comparison U.S. power customers paid a total of $343.7 billion for electricity in 2007. The shocking fact is that the costs of an aging and technologically backward power grid adds something like one-third to one-half to our annual electricity costs. Ghost Town Louisville is a poster child, but most power problems do not receive national publicity.

GM 2.0

Call it ‘green mobility’

With an auto industry bailout careening down the pike, Climate Solutions policy director KC Golden has some vitally needed insights regarding what we need to …