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The Most Read Energy Institute Blog Posts of 2020

Power outages, distributed generation, and energy’s role in the pandemic topped this year’s list.

This year has been profoundly challenging. A global health crisis and the impacts of measures to stop it, violence against African-Americans, and wildfires in the western US have shaken us as individuals and a community.

This tumult has stimulated the researchers and graduate students at the Energy Institute to ask new questions and revisit old ones. We hope the research, analysis and insights shared through the Energy Institute Blog this year have helped our readers navigate the year and think about its future impacts.

Thank you for connecting with the Energy Institute this year, through the blog, events and personal interactions (sadly, all virtual since March). We are deeply grateful to be part of a community of people committed to creating a more economically and environmentally sustainable energy future, and addressing the societal challenges that have come to the forefront.

Here are our most widely read blog posts from 2020. Normally we limit the list to posts published in 2020. But this year the most popular post actually was from 2019, so it gets an honorary mention! You’ll find it at the bottom of the list.

I hope you enjoy taking a fresh look or first look at these pieces. If you don’t already get the emails announcing our new blog posts then please join our email list.

Stay healthy!

#1 Can We Stop Paying Utility Bills for a Bit? by Catherine Wolfram, 3/30/20

A utility bill moratorium could put extra money into the pockets of business owners and households during the pandemic

#2 Putting Solar in All the Wrong Places by Lucas Davis, 2/3/20

High retail electricity prices, not economic value, are driving U.S. investments in rooftop solar.

#3 Electricity Outages Lead to Substantial Backup Generator Purchases by Catherine Wolfram, 5/26/20

Preliminary survey results from California suggest that long outages are leading people to buy backup generators, possibly instead of rooftop solar.

#4 Oil Market Impacts of COVID-19 by Severin Borenstein, 3/16/20

Economists can’t predict the future, but economics can help improve policy today.

#5 Fossil Fuels are Dead, Long Live Fossil Fuels by Catherine Wolfram, 1/6/20

With new carbon capture and sequestration technologies, can fossil fuels be part of the zero-carbon solution?

#6 The Crazy History of Lead in Gasoline by Maximilian Auffhammer, 1/6/20

A new paper estimates the massive damages from leaded gasoline (which is still around).

#7 What Can Distributed Generation Do For the Grid? by Severin Borenstein, 9/28/20

A thought experiment suggests how much rooftop solar could reduce transmission and distribution costs.

#8 Why Don’t We Do It With Demand? by Severin Borenstein, 8/24/20

Customers can help avoid blackouts if they are given better information and prices.

#9 Are There More Blackouts in California’s Future by Catherine Wolfram, 8/31/20

Rising electricity demand from air conditioning will exacerbate problems during heat waves.

#10 Subsidizing Electricity During a Pandemic: Lessons from Ghana by Catherine Wolfram, 7/20/20

Ghanaians were promised heavily subsidized electricity for the first three months of the pandemic. What happened?


My New Pollution Monitor: Gimmick or Game Changer? by Meredith Fowlie, 1/2/19

The sensor revolution takes on air pollution.

Keep up with Energy Institute blogs, research, and events on Twitter @energyathaas.

Suggested citation: Campbell, Andrew“The Most Read Energy Institute Blog Posts of 2020” Energy Institute Blog, UC Berkeley, December 21, 2020,

Andrew G Campbell View All

Andrew Campbell is the Executive Director of the Energy Institute at Haas. Andy has worked in the energy industry for his entire professional career. Prior to coming to the University of California, Andy worked for energy efficiency and demand response company, Tendril, and grid management technology provider, Sentient Energy. He helped both companies navigate the complex energy regulatory environment and tailor their sales and marketing approaches to meet the utility industry’s needs. Previously, he was Senior Energy Advisor to Commissioner Rachelle Chong and Commissioner Nancy Ryan at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). While at the CPUC Andy was the lead advisor in areas including demand response, rate design, grid modernization, and electric vehicles. Andy led successful efforts to develop and adopt policies on Smart Grid investment and data access, regulatory authority over electric vehicle charging, demand response, dynamic pricing for utilities and natural gas quality standards for liquefied natural gas. Andy has also worked in Citigroup’s Global Energy Group and as a reservoir engineer with ExxonMobil. Andy earned a Master in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and bachelors degrees in chemical engineering and economics from Rice University.

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