Energy matters

We used to live in a simpler world. It was a world in which we were blessed by an abundance of cheap hydropower and fossil fuels. It was a world in which  our pursuit of low-cost electricity and fuel was not complicated by our mounting impact on the environment, natural resources and habitat. A world of seemingly endless economic growth and opportunities. Now that world is not so simple.

What we face today is a world of unprecedented challenges and uncertainties. 

Our islands currently depend on hydroelectricity for 80 percent of our power.  What will happen if climate change affects rainfall patterns and power generation from hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest?  Fuel prices are unpredictable and the environmental risks of extracting petroleum has never been more apparent than with the massive BP spill in the gulf.  

How can we prepare ourselves and our economy for the time when fossil fuels are no longer as affordable?  Is there a way we can maintain and improve our quality of life without compromising the environment and natural resources that we leave our children and their children?  And finally, can we move forward in a way that is creative, responsible, affordable and even fun?

We believe the answer to the last question is yes! Innovations in technology, policy, and collaboration open up opportunities that are more than sufficient to address our challenges. We want to explore energy questions and engage our community of readers in an important discussion of our county’s energy future.

In this space you will find exciting energy facts, ideas and initiatives from our neighbors and around the world.  We will offer information on incentives, services, resources and technology that will save energy and money.  As we explore our use of energy in the San Juan Islands, we will discuss where we are now, where we want to be in the future, and how to get there.

We envision a thriving local energy economy that is based upon the principals of ecology, peace, and social justice.  

This column will be a regular feature and because we believe the discussion of our energy future belong to the community, we welcome any questions, comments or inspirations our readers may have. Please write us at 


Who are “we”, you may ask? Spearheaded by Lopez Community Land Trust, the taskforce is four members of the group unofficially called “Islands Energy Coalition”.  We are a small group of energy enthusiasts and professionals with an interest in community discussions, solutions and empowerment towards a happy, resilient energy future for the San Juan Islands.

This column is initiated by Chom Greacen (energy expert), Chris Greacen (energy consultant), Doug Poole (building performance contractor) and Jeff Dyer (renewable energy contractor), all residents of Lopez Island. We and other IEC members will contribute to future articles. For more information, contact Poole 468-4047.