‘Social’ package pickups could cut online shopping’s energy use

‘Social’ package pickups could cut online shopping’s energy use(Midwest Energy News, November 26, 2012)—As the holiday shopping season kicks into full gear, some experts predict online businesses will rake in $2 billion in sales today, which retailers have dubbed “Cyber Monday.”

That also means millions of gallons of fuel will be consumed in getting all those packages to customer’s doorsteps. The good news: there’s reasonable consensus that online shopping consumes less energy than physical retail, says Tim Smith, director of the NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise at the Institute on the Environment.

A big reason is because those delivery trucks run much more efficient routes than we do driving to multiple stores in our own cars.

That said, Smith sees plenty of room for improvement, especially in suburban areas, as online shopping grows into what Forrester Research expects will be a $279 billion a year industry by 2015. UPS already has more than 95,000 vehicles that collectively put on 2.5 billion miles per year to keep up with the surge in online shopping.

The biggest opportunity is in the “last mile,” which accounts for up to half of a retail transaction’s carbon footprint. It’s relatively efficient to ship bulk goods by boat, train, or truck to local stores and warehouses. The largest source of emissions is in the final leg of the trip to the customer’s door. Continue reading “‘Social’ package pickups could cut online shopping’s energy use”

Cover story — November Twin Cities Business magazine

Solar Apocalypse

Twin Cities entrepreneur George Anderson thinks a bunch of Iranians on boats are going to take down the U.S. electricity grid — if the sun doesn’t destroy us all first. He’s backing up his data on portable hard drives, stockpiling food for his family, and pouring his personal fortunes into a company he thinks can help save civilization. My profile wound up making the cover of the November 2012 issue of Twin Cities Business magazine. Read it here.

FirstEnergy wants to put the brakes on Ohio’s efficiency mandate

FirstEnergy wants to put the brakes on Ohio’s efficiency mandate(Midwest Energy News, November 19, 2012)—One of Ohio’s largest electric utilities wants lawmakers to suspend the state’s landmark 2008 energy efficiency law during the upcoming lame duck legislative session.

FirstEnergy has been shopping a proposal to lawmakers in recent weeks that would freeze Ohio’s mandatory energy efficiency goals for utilities at current levels.

“We’re concerned whether these goals can be achieved, and whether they can be achieved economically,” FirstEnergy spokesman Doug Colafella said.

Colafella said the company did not yet have a sponsor for the legislation and that it’s merely “having conversations” in Columbus about the efficiency standard.

That hasn’t stopped a coalition of consumer, environmental and business groups from mobilizing against the threat of a rollback.

“FirstEnergy has got an army of lobbyist and lawyers. They’ve got a lot of power in this state, so I wouldn’t put anything past them,” said Dan Sawmiller, a senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Ohio and Kentucky. Continue reading “FirstEnergy wants to put the brakes on Ohio’s efficiency mandate”