The Atlantic, by Joshua Green, July/August 2009

Altamont Pass, CA

Altamont Pass, California. One of the first large-scale wind farms in the United States.

Someday, all these technologies will come together. The Buck Rogers vision of the future is an electricity “ecosystem” built on a smart grid through which bountiful forms of clean, domestic power course into stylish electric vehicles and abstemious buildings outfitted with smart appliances that can run the dishwasher or dry the laundry at whatever time of day power is cheapest (in the future, rates will float to reflect demand), thereby lowering your already scandalously low and guilt-free energy bill even farther. Blackouts and price spikes, like Dick Cheney and Enron, will be relics of a distant age, and Jimmy Carter will be fondly recalled as a man ahead of his time.

This brief history of the renewable energy industry, where it’s been, and where it might be going, is a must-read. Here, Green compares the late ‘70’s with today’s economic, political, and energy environment. Find out what worked before and why it failed to bring us the green economy we need so desperately today. Though the US has gone down the ‘hard path’ of fossil fuel gluttony for the past century with only a few sporadic attempts at reform, we also may be the only nation that has enough bright ideas and entrepreneurial gumption to jump-start a green energy revolution and bring the world back from a climatic abyss.